Associate’s in Communications Degrees & Schools Guide

Associates Degree in Communications Career Options & Salary

Overview of an Associates in Communications


Are you considering a career in the communications field? If you enjoy the creation process and are a motivated worker, an associate degree in communications may be a good fit for you. Graduates qualify for a wide variety of entry-level jobs. While there are numerous employment opportunities available, some of the most common industries include publishing, marketing, public relations, and broadcasting.

Business Degrees & Career Paths


In most cases, communications professionals are expected to have some level of higher education. While it may be possible to find work in the field without a degree, advancing would be difficult. Most individuals interested in communications seek either an associate or bachelor’s degree. An associate degree will provide graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary to qualify for advanced employment opportunities, but this course of action is not for everyone. There are several advantages and disadvantages you should be aware of.

PROS

There are many reasons to pursue an associate degree in communications. A key benefit is that earning an associate degree costs less than earning a bachelor’s degree. According to 2017-2018 statistics released by the College Board’s Trends in Higher Education Series, the average in-state tuition at traditional four-year institutions for a single year was $9,970. Associate degree students paid an average of $3,570.

The speed of completion for an associate degree is significantly faster than a bachelor’s degree. While time frames can vary, most full-time students graduate in approximately two years. Those who choose to enroll in a traditional undergraduate program will likely need four years to complete the graduation requirements.

Similarly, bachelor’s degree holders must wait longer to join the workforce than do individuals with associate degrees. Associate program graduates will qualify for employment after only two years. This means they can begin paying off accrued education debt earlier, as well. While these professionals may not make as much initially as someone with an undergraduate degree, they will earn more than people without any advanced education.

Additionally, associate program credits can be transferred. Whether you graduate or not, completed coursework often counts toward bachelor’s degree requirements if you choose to further your education in the future.

CONS

While there are many advantages of pursing an associate degree in communications, there are drawbacks as well. One that is particularly important to note is that graduates from both levels of education often compete for the same jobs. Because academic achievement is an easy way to narrow a candidate pool, employers may give preference to those with undergraduate degrees. Similarly, associate degree graduates may experience more difficulty securing advanced managerial or supervisory positions.

Further, depending on your industry of interest, an associate degree could limit your ability to apply for some certifications. Many certification boards require applicants to have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in communications or a related field. This could prevent you from qualifying for certain jobs or promotions.

Certificate vs. Associates


In addition to communication associate degrees, there are also certificate programs. While both options take less time to complete than a bachelor’s degree, there are several differences you should be aware of.

An associate degree program usually includes coursework geared toward your field of interest, as well as general education classes. These non-vocational courses often include basic math, science, humanities, English, and foreign language. Communications certification programs, on the other hand, do not incorporate class like this in the curriculum.

As a result, certificate programs take less time to complete. Whereas an associate degree requires approximately two years of time, students can graduate with a certificate in as little as a year.

What Communications Associate Degrees are Available?


Specific degree titles in communication vary from institution to institution. Most colleges and universities offer an Associate of Science (AS) and/or an Associate of Arts (AA) degree option. You may also find Associate of Applied Science and/or Associate of Applied Arts degrees in communication. While all of these variations prepare graduates for employment in the field, there are a few differences you should be aware of.

  • Associate of Science (AS) in Communications:
    An AS in Communication usually appeals to individuals interested in math and science. Students usually complete additional coursework in these topics. While AS graduates can decide to seek employment, these degrees are usually intended for individuals who may want to enroll in a traditional, four-year undergraduate program later. A two-year AS in Communication degree is often considered equivalent to the first two years of an undergraduate degree.
  • Associate of Arts (AA) in Communications:
    An AA in Communication usually appeals to individuals interested in social science and humanities. Students usually complete additional coursework related to one or both of these topics. While AA graduates may apply for employment right away, this degree option is usually preferred by individuals planning to pursue further education at a traditional, four-year institution. Completing a two-year AA in Communication degree program is often considered equivalent to completing the first two years of an undergraduate degree.
  • Associate of Applied Arts (AAA) and Associate of Applied Science (AAS):
    AAA and AAS degrees are similar to AA and AS degrees. They tend to be, however, much more technical in nature. This is because most individuals receiving these degrees seek employment immediately after graduation. These programs prepare students to join the workforce right away instead of continuing their education. AAA degrees tend to be much rarer than AAS degrees.

Admission Requirements


Most associate degree candidates must complete various institutional requirements before enrolling. Enrollment standards vary, but often include the following:

  • A high school diploma or equivalent (GED)
  • Minimum overall academic grade point average

Most community colleges do not require SAT and/or ACT scores; however, these may be necessary if you plan to enroll in an undergraduate degree program later. Additionally, transfer students are often asked to provide a transcript containing a record of any prior course completions and grades.

How long does it take to earn a Communications Associates Degree?


Generally, students can expect to graduate with an associate degree in communications within two years. This time frame is contingent upon the student being enrolled full-time, however. Individuals who opt to take classes on a part-time basis will likely take longer to complete the graduation requirements. Part-time students may require one to three additional years. It is also worth noting that students with advanced placement credits may be able to graduate in fewer than two years.

Potential Careers in Communications with an Associates


There are numerous employment opportunities available to individuals who have graduated from an associate degree program in communications. Some popular options include receptionist, customer service representative, administrative assistant, public relations (PR) specialist, and communications specialist.

  • Receptionist
    Receptionists are often the first employee a visitor, customer, or client interacts with at a larger company. They frequently screen phone calls, take messages, and manage schedules. They must be able to juggle numerous tasks at once and may be required to prioritize the importance of responsibilities regularly.
    According to PayScale, the average salary for a receptionist is $31,200.
  • Customer Service Representative
    Customer service representatives are generally the first point of customer contact for general inquiries. They are often responsible for delivering excellence customer service, accurately processing orders/requests, answering questions, and coordinating with other departments. These professionals also build and maintain business partnerships.
    According to PayScale, the average salary for a customer service representative is $37,300.
  • Administrative Assistant
    Administrative assistants may work in a variety of different fields, but usually provide some form of administrative support for other employees. They are often responsible for greeting visitors or callers, routing requests, typing correspondence, and compiling data. These professionals must also schedule meetings, appointments, and travel, as well as coordinate the use of office space.
    According to PayScale, the average salary for an administrative assistant is $39,100.
  • Public Relations (PR) Specialist
    Public relations (PR) specialists are responsible for promoting and elevating awareness of an individual, company, or organization. They work to ensure that the general public views the represented entity in a positive light. These professionals often create and distribute publicity materials, coordinate press conferences, lead marketing efforts, and develop public relations strategies to influence public opinion.
    According to PayScale, the average salary for a PR specialist is $47,300.
  • Communications Specialist
    Communications specialists typically manage a company or organization’s internal and external communication efforts. This includes the creation and distribution of memos, job descriptions, management notes, press releases, and marketing materials. These professionals also often coordinate media and marketing for meetings, press conferences, and events.
    According to PayScale, the average salary for a communications specialist is $50,700.

Options to Advance


In most cases, the opportunity for advancement will come from within the company or organization you work for in the communications field. While many management and supervisory positions will require an undergraduate education, it may be possible to transition into one after accumulating years of professional experience. It is not uncommon for individuals with an associate degree in communication to eventually become the lead in a specific department or division. These opportunities will, however, arise more frequently to candidates with advanced degrees.

Best Associate of Science in Communication Programs


There are many institutions that offer traditional associate degrees in communication. Students enrolled in these programs must take courses on campus and in person.

Some of the most prominent colleges and universities with this type of program include:

  • University of Montana
    Missoula, Montana

    University of Montana offers a general Associate of Arts with a Concentration in Communication Studies. While this program does not include a specific major course of study, it does offer a curriculum that places focus on the communications field. Students are encouraged to enroll in a four-year undergraduate program after completing graduation requirements.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AA with a Concentration in Communication Studies
  • Columbus State Community College
    Columbus, Ohio

    Columbus State Community College offers an Associate of Arts in Communication degree. The program is designed to prepare students for further education and satisfies the first two years of a bachelor’s degree. Curriculum includes writing, speech, critical media evaluation, and human communication.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AA in Communication
  • College of Western Idaho
    Napa, Idaho

    College of Western Idaho offers an Associate of Arts in Communication degree. The program is designed to help students develop and hone a variety of communication skills. Curriculum includes an exploration of critical thinking, innovation, civic engagement, and creative endeavors that produce and reproduce the social world.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AA in Communication
  • Cape Cod Community College
    West Barnstable, Massachusetts

    Cape Cod Community College offers a general Associate of Arts with a concentration in either Communication or Media Studies. These programs are intended to provide a flexible educational background for students planning to enroll in a four-year program after graduation.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AA with Communication Concentration
    • AA with Media Studies Concentration
  • Guilford Technical Community College
    Greensboro, North Carolina

    Guilford Technical Community College offers an Associate of Arts in Communication Studies degree. This program is designed specifically for students interested in pursuing an undergraduate degree in a liberal arts discipline after graduation. It helps build skills essential to students’ working and interpersonal life.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AA in Communication Studies

Traditional Schools Offering an AS in Communication


There are many institutions that offer distance learning associate degrees in communication. Students enrolled in these programs have the option to take classes online from anywhere in the world.

Some of the most prominent colleges and universities with this type of program include:

  • Colorado Christian University
    Lakewood, Colorado

    Colorado Christian University offers an online Associate of Arts in Communication Studies. It provides an introduction to the field and helps provide graduates with an understanding of communication theory and its application. The skills developed will assist in business, journalism, politics, and non-profit work. Classes are available online and at the university’s regional centers.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AA in Communication Studies
  • South Texas College
    McAllen, Texas

    South Texas College offers an Associate of Arts degree in Communication with a speech concentration. The curriculum provides students with a strong foundation in interpersonal interaction, group communication, public speaking, and debate. Classes are intended to prepare graduates for further education at a four-year institution.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AA in Communication
  • Northampton County Area Community College
    Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

    Northampton County Area Community College offers an Associate of Arts in Communication Studies that can be completed 100% online. The program is designed to prepare students for careers in organizations and corporations dealing with media, education, business, public service, tourism, journalism, public relations, politics, broadcasting, and sales.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AA in Communication Studies
  • Mesa Community College
    Mesa, Arizona

    Mesa Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Business with a Business Communication track. This program is designed to prepare students for entry-level careers in the field. Graduates often find employment in bookkeeping, business communication, management marketing, real estate, international business, or project management.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AAS in Business Communication
  • Franklin University
    Columbus, Ohio

    Franklin University offers an Associate of Science in Communications degree online. The program is designed to help students enter the fast-growing field of communications. Curriculum emphasizes interpersonal, organizational, and media communications to better prepare graduates to succeed in business.

    Degrees Offered:

    • AS in Communications
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