An Associate of Arts degree is earned within two years at a community college. This degree prepares students to continue their education, earning a bachelor's degree at a four-year institution, but it also prepares students to enter the workforce directly. An Associate of Arts degree can focus on many topics, including psychology, philosophy, history, literature, physical science, life science, math and statistics. Entry-level salaries for Associate of Arts graduates vary, depending on the industry.

Jobs and Skills

An Associate of Arts degree curriculum enables students to develop a wide of skills and thus be well-prepared to join the workforce. Students obtain writing and interpersonal skills, critical thinking skills, a basic understanding of U.S. history and knowledge of basic science. Employers value these skills and see them as marketable, thus preparing students for a number of careers upon graduation. Careers include management, health care, sales, marketing and education. Hourly rates vary depending on the student's area of focus. According to PayScale (provider of global online compensation data), an administrative assistant earns between $11.97 and $15.68 per hour. Hourly rates for a registered nurse fall between $23.73 and $34.25 per hour. A graphic designer earns between $14.17 and $17.70 per hour (all 2011 figures).

Highest Paying Jobs

The highest paying jobs for Associate of Arts graduates are in the health care industry. A nuclear medicine technologist earns $66,660 per year. Medical sonographers, also known as ultrasound technicians, earn $61,980 per year. Outside of the medical field, an aerospace and aviation engineer earns $55,040 while an electrical engineer earns $53,240 per year. Paralegals and court reporters earn just less than $50,000 per year. Additional high paying jobs for Associate of Arts graduates include occupational therapists and dental hygienists managers. (All data from Get Degrees, a provider of a range of degree options, recommendations and reviews on schools, colleges and universities worldwide, including two-year, four-year, public, private, community and vocational schools)

Liberal Arts

A liberal arts Associate of Arts degree provides a solid foundation in writing. As students graduate and enter the workforce, they are best-suited for jobs that showcase their writing skills. The largest employer of students with liberal arts Associate of Arts degrees is the advertising and marketing industries An advertising manager can make as much as $87,640 per year. Editors earn $43,890, while technical writers and copywriters earn more than $50,000. (All data from

Criminal Justice

Criminal justice is another popular area in which to earn an Associate of Arts degree. Popular careers in criminal justice include corrections officer, police officer, airport security, bailiff and bodyguards. When earning an Associate of Arts in criminal justice, students are trained in their specific field of interest so that they are ready to enter the job market upon graduation.