The first step to higher education for many people is an associate degree. While this is the launchpad for some who eventually go on to undergraduate and graduate programs, some professionals are well-served by an associate degree alone, and choosing to pursue one in psychology can be ideal for many careers.
Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and how and why thoughts and behaviors are interconnected, on both an individual and collective level. Studying psychology along with the subjects included in a foundational general education teaches students critical thinking, creative problem-solving, collaboration skills, and an understanding of people and why they think and behave the way that they do.
It’s a no-brainer that having a deep understanding of people will be an incredible starting point for graduates who want to work with, you guessed it, people.
The highest paying jobs with an associate’s degree in psychology span a diversity of fields that would benefit from the skills that the program teaches. And you can even specialize with an associate degree, like getting an associates degree in animal behavior to go on to educational programs and careers in animal training, research, or zoology. While an associate degree in psychology is transferable to a wide range of bachelor’s programs, sometimes an associate degree in psychology can be all you need to begin your career.
Graduates who begin jobs with an associate degree in psychology can be assistants and technicians in the field of psychology or can apply the skills and knowledge learned in the programs to jobs in education, customer service, criminal justice, and even future management.
What Is an Associate’s Degree in Psychology?
With an associate degree in psychology, coursework combines a liberal arts foundation with an introduction to psychological theory and practice. In addition to general psychology, classes in an associate program could include:
- Research methods
- Developmental psychology
- Personality theory
- Abnormal psychology
- Human sexual behavior
These programs prepare you to critically analyze both research and real-life situations as well as teach the values, views, concepts, methods, and techniques of the field. With an associate degree in psychology, you can apply these learned insights into personalities, thoughts, and behaviors to successful careers as well as personal growth and development.
7 of the Highest-Paying Jobs You Can Get with an Associate Degree in Psychology
If you’re asking yourself, is an associate’s in psychology worth it? The answer is yes. Not only can you transfer to bachelor’s programs and beyond, but you can also earn a living in jobs that are perfect for people with the degree. Here are some of the highest-paying jobs with an associate degree in psychology.
A graduate with an associate degree in psychology has the chance to make a difference in kids’ lives by working as a teacher assistant. Many students need extra attention and one-on-one help, and an education in psychology prepares teaching aides to truly help children with issues related to mental health or disabilities.
A teacher assistant makes about $29,000 annually and starts a career in a rewarding profession.
Psychiatric Technician or Aide
While psychiatrists seem to get the spotlight, patients with mental illness and developmental disabilities are cared for by psychiatric technicians and aides who are crucial to psychiatric hospitals, residential mental health facilities, and other healthcare settings that serve people with mental health issues. It takes a lot of education to get there, but an associate’s degree can be the first step in the journey to the high-paying field of Psychiatry.
Psychiatric technicians and aides earn an average of $33,000 per year.
Customer Service Representative
An associate degree in psychology is not required for a job in customer service, but it sure helps. When you’re interacting with customers who have complaints, problems, and requests, understanding psychology puts you at an advantage to know how to better handle any given situation. Customers are people, after all.
A customer service representative brings in about $35,000 per year and often has room to advance within the company.
Social and Human Service Assistant
Social and human service assistants are needed to provide services related to psychology, rehabilitation, and social work. A social and human service assistant might work for a nonprofit, the government, or other social services agency.
The average pay for the job is about $36,000 a year.
Social Science Research Assistant
Social scientists, including psychologists, would be glad to have an assistant in the lab who has an education in psychology. Social science research assistants help with research such as surveys and laboratory work. These assistants may aid in analysis or data management or help prepare findings for publication. They play a key role in the research sector and have a part in advancing knowledge in the field of psychology.
While the salaries increase with education level, research assistants with an associate degree in psychology can make around $40,000 a year and gain experience in an exciting and impactful sector.
Office and Administrative Support Staff
Ensuring that an office runs smoothly requires the kind of skills and insights taught in an associate degree program in psychology. The analytical and organizational skills needed to complete the degree are the same that make office and administrative support employees successful. Also, an understanding of why people think and behave the way they do adds an awareness of how to best manage office politics and relationships.
A professional in office and administrative support can expect to make about $42,000 annually, on average.
Correctional Officer or Bailiff
A correctional officer or bailiff is tasked with maintaining safety and order in courtrooms and correctional facilities. There’s no arguing that psychology factors in to both the committing of crime and the criminal justice system. A correctional officer who has a psychology foundation is ready to apply their understanding of human thoughts and behaviors to be able to carefully and respectfully handle a population facing immense challenges and difficulties.
Keeping in mind that being a correctional officer can be dangerous, the pay is one of the highest for people with associate degrees in psychology, at an average of $47,000 per year.
FAQs About Associate Degrees in Psychology
What skills does an associate degree in psychology teach?
- Critical and analytical thinking
- Diversity awareness
- Problem solving
- Understanding mental processes and mental health
- Understanding human behavior
What fields can you go into with an associate degree in psychology?
- Psychiatric support
- Customer service
- Office Administration
- Social Services
What are the highest-paying jobs for people with an associate degree in psychology?
- Correctional officers
- Office support
- Research assistants
- Social services assistants
- Customer service representatives
- Psychiatric technicians
How much can I expect to earn with an associate degree in psychology?
That varies, but someone who holds one of these jobs that are well-suited to people with associate degrees in psychology usually get paid between $30,000 and $40,000 a year, which increases with further education.
The associates in psychology salary outlook is good, especially if you choose to go on to earn a higher degree in psychology or related disciplines.
What field of psychology makes the most money? Hands down, psychiatry. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who diagnose and treat mental disorders, but it’s entirely possible to kick off that education with an associate degree in psychology.
2020 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary figures for all job categories discussed here reflect national data, not-school information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed November 2021.