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Is an Associate Degree in Business Worth It?

By Tim Stobierski
March 19, 2021

While most associate degrees do not dive deeply into any particular business field, the broad skillset and introduction to multiple areas can act as an excellent foundation for many entry-level positions. 

According to Duane Levefre, lecturer at Northeastern’s College of Professional Studies, an associate-level degree in business provides students with basic skills and knowledge of various business functions, including marketing, finance, and management.

“I think employers are looking for skillsets and the building blocks that you can apply at work,” Devefre says. “In addition to specific skills, I think there’s a broadening of perspective that’s part of an associate degree. Having a more holistic view of business is going to be really helpful.”

If you already have an associate degree in business or are considering enrolling in an associate degree program, you may be questioning whether or not it is worth anything. Below, we have collected a list of some of the most common job titles that you are likely to qualify for after earning your associate degree in business. 

What can you do with an associate degree in business?

1. Administrative Assistant

Average Annual Salary: $39,964 per year

As the title suggests, administrative assistants perform a range of administrative duties within an office setting throughout virtually every industry. Though specific responsibilities can vary substantially depending on the employer and the department they work for, an administrative assistant’s typical tasks include scheduling meetings and appointments, filing paperwork, data entry, invoice processing, front desk duties, and more. These positions typically require strong communication and interpersonal skills. It is not uncommon for an administrative assistant to move into more senior-level positions within the organization as they gain experience.

2. Customer Service Associate

Average Annual Salary: $41,588 per year

Customer service professionals act as the public face for their business or organization. These individuals interact with customers on a daily basis, often helping to answer their questions or resolve various challenges. Depending on the organization, they may provide support or even process payments, refunds, and product returns. Customer service associates must have strong communication skills as well as an understanding of the company’s policies.

3. Human Resources Specialist

Average Annual Salary: $51,688 per year

A human resources specialist typically works under the supervision of a human resources manager (HRM). Depending on the size of an organization’s HR department, an HR specialist may wear many hats or specialize in a particular area. Human resources specialists often aid in payroll processing, benefits management, employee training, recruiting, and internal communications. Working as an HR specialist requires a strong understanding of how an organization operates.

4. Sales Supervisor

Average Annual Salary: $52,152 per year

Sales supervisors oversee a team of salespeople and are employed by many businesses. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that the sales team meets its sales targets on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. Sales supervisors work to empower their team members to sell more efficiently and effectively, monitor the tactics being used by their team, and often act as intermediaries between sales members and unhappy customers. For this reason, strong conflict-resolution and negotiation skills are often required. 

5. Executive Assistant

Average Annual Salary: $56,555 per year

An executive assistant is similar to an administrative assistant in many ways. However, the primary difference is that while an administrative assistant performs these duties for the organization or department as a whole, an executive assistant performs these duties for one or multiple executive-level individuals within the organization. In this regard, executive assistants aid in scheduling, itinerary planning, communications, and other clerical duties. The role typically requires exceptional organizational abilities.

So, is an associate degree in business worth it?

Depending on your unique career goals, earning an associate degree in business may or may not make sense for you. 

On the positive side of the equation, earning an associate degree is typically quicker than earning a four-year bachelor’s degree. This means you can potentially begin working and collecting a paycheck sooner. On the negative side of the equation, most of the positions that an associate degree will qualify you for will be entry-level. More advanced roles will require applicants to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, as this allows you to demonstrate a deeper understanding of the skills required to do the job well. 

The good news is that if you already have an associate degree (or are currently working toward one) and are considering continuing your education by earning a bachelor’s degree, there are programs designed specifically for people like you. 

“If you already have your associate degree in business and you’re feeling stuck or looking to expand your career opportunities, you can enroll in a bachelor’s degree completion program to develop your skills and help you stand out in the job market,” Levefre says. “It will often be possible to put your existing credits toward your bachelor’s degree.” 

What’s more, many bachelor’s degree completion programs—including Northeastern’s—are specifically designed to be completed part-time by working professionals so that you can balance your current responsibilities with your other personal commitments. 

Are you interested in potentially converting your associate degree in business into a bachelor’s degree? Northeastern’s Bachelor of Science in Management is designed to allow you to take your existing education and apply it toward a full degree that will prepare you for a role in management. Hands-on, experiential learning in the form of co-ops and internships will allow you to gain the experience that employers are looking for in job applicants while also introducing you to prospective employers. 

Want to learn more? Visit the BS in Management program page for more information about the curriculum and how to apply.

About Tim Stobierski
Tim Stobierski is a marketing specialist and contributing writer for Northeastern University.