Overview of an Associate's Degree in Health & Wellness
If you want to help people live their best lives by helping them with their health issues and concerns, a career in health and wellness is a great option for you. Careers in this field are varied, so you could choose any number of avenues and create a career that suits you. Whether you want to help people improve their eating habits or assist them with exercise and mobility issues, a health and wellness education will open plenty of doors for you to help people in the way you want to. This may be through health education or certification, community health services, public health policy and services, a professional wellness program for business staff, or employment in working to develop safety training content and policy creation for professionals, among other career options that are available based on your education and experience.
An associate health and wellness degree program provides the most basic level of education available, though it can prepare students for a career in health sciences. An Associate of Applied Science in Health and Wellness or Health Science is a two-year degree, with which students can attain an entry-level position in healthcare and wellness fields, including health services. In some cases, students may find opportunities to attain leadership positions or even become an assistant director in some facilities. The two-year degree will give you an overview of general education that will make a good foundation if you choose to pursue a higher degree later. However, a college or university will also offer students an adequate education to get started in a career in health and wellness regardless of the path they choose after completing their program.
- Because an associate degree only takes two years, whether it is an Associate of Science or an Associate of Applied Science program, you will complete your total education courses faster than those pursuing bachelor’s degrees in the health sciences.
- You’ll also spend less on education, whether you pay out of pocket or need to take out student loans, which you may even be able to skip.
- You’ll get to start working in your career faster than those who are pursuing higher degrees.
- You’ll earn more than those working in the field, or even on the same team as you, who have no education or just certificates. This degree program will not only provide you with general education and additional education in your field, but it will also prepare students and make them more attractive to potential employers.
- With an associate degree, you won’t have the earning potential that someone with a more advanced degree could command.
- Any degree requires a good deal of time and monetary commitment, whether you attend online or on campus. For some, pursuing a degree while working and taking care of other responsibilities is a challenge.
- An associate degree may still not prepare students to pursue management positions.
Certificate Vs. Associates
Some fields in health and wellness do offer certificates, but they aren’t going to garner much credibility unless they are used to enhance or complement a degree in the field. For example, a person working as a health coach might get a certificate in nutrition. For those who want to work in the health and wellness field, an actual degree in the desired field is a more prudent approach, especially when you consider that a two-year degree is not much more of a time commitment than a certificate. Certificates take between six months and 18 months, whereas an associate degree takes 24 months.
What Health & Wellness Associates Degrees are Available?
There are four types of two-year degrees. Each type has its own designation and end result.
- An Associate of Science (AS) degree is based heavily on math and science. It can stand as a terminal degree, but usually it is used as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s of science degree.
- An Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree is based on practical application. This degree is achieved by students who want to immediately start working in their chosen field. Students who continue their education can seek either a bachelor of science of a bachelor of arts, depending on the field of study.
- An Associate of Arts (AA) degree has a heavy influence on humanities and social service classes. Students who continue their education often receive bachelor of arts degrees.
- The Associate of Applied Business (AAB) is a business degree can either be very general or very narrow. This degree is good for workers who either need a general business education or want to specialize in a particular aspect of a business. Like the AAS, AAB holders can continue and receive either a bachelor’s in science or arts degree, though it’s possible that fewer of the credits from this degree will transfer to a bachelor’s program if you choose a narrow course of study.
As with most associate degree programs, the following requirements must be met to gain entry into a school or program.
- A high school diploma or GED is required.
- Following the specific instructions for the school in which a student is applying is required. In most cases, an application for admission is needed as well as transcripts from any other schools that have been attended previously.
- Taking the ACT or SAT and achieving a minimum score could also be a requirement.
How long does it take to earn a Health & Wellness Associates?
Associate degrees usually take two years that consist of four semesters or eight quarters. In most cases, courses have to be taken in a specific order and some classes are only offered during certain semesters. Because of this, students should pay close attention to their course load and requirements, so they don’t accidentally fall behind. Some students finish in less than two years by taking heavier course loads or attending classes during the summer. Other students need longer than two years due to work and family obligations. However, if a student has no other responsibilities past getting an education, completing a two-year program in four semesters or eight quarters is doable.
Potential Careers in Health & Wellness with an Associates
Health and Wellness is a very broad umbrella that covers careers in medicine, business, and human resources to name a few. Here are a few potential careers that those with associate degrees can pursue.
- Healthcare Administration
Most administrators have bachelor’s degrees but with an associate you can get in on the ground level as an assistant. You’ll work directly under the administrator and complete tasks that help the administrator do their job.
Average Salary $39,000
- Medical Records Administrator
As a medical records administrator, you’ll be in charge of making sure the medical records for patients are current as well as correctly and securely stored. You could work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, clinics, insurance companies, or anywhere else patient information is stored. Knowledge of HIPAA and other forms of confidentially are required.
Average Salary $45,000
- Health Informatics Specialist
Basically, this is information technology for healthcare. To work in this field, education in information technology as well as medical records and research is required. As a health informatics specialist, you will build databases to store and properly source medical information as well as ensure that the information is as secure as possible. Knowledge of cybersecurity is a plus since healthcare databases are increasingly becoming targets of internet hackers.
Average Salary $41,000
- Medical Laboratory Technician
As a med lab tech, you are trained to handle specimens, run diagnostic tests, and the proper manner in which to secure and/or destroy specimens. Because these specimens are often used to help diagnose and treat patients, strict attention to detail and procedure is a must. Med lab techs work in hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices, as well as other businesses that use diagnostic testing.
Average Salary $40,500
Becoming a nurse can lead to a variety of different careers other than being a nurse in a hospital or doctor’s office. Many health administration positions prefer candidates with nursing degrees. However, even in a traditional sense nurses can help educate patients on a variety of topics and work as counselors, advisors, and in other areas of health and wellness.
Average Salary $63,800
Options to Advance
Health and wellness careers are catered more toward four-year degrees, so there are very few two-year degrees for health and wellness because the job field just isn’t that robust. For those who want to work in health and wellness, getting a bachelor’s degree is the more prudent approach. In order to advance further, or enter into management positions, a bachelor’s degree or higher will be required for most health and wellness careers.
Best Associate of Science in Health & Wellness Programs
The schools listed below offer programs that fit into the health and wellness definition. ‘Health and Wellness’ might not be the actual title of the degree but is used as a placeholder because it is the main category for many of the programs offered below.
Central Wyoming College
This community college offers degrees and certificates in allied health and wellness careers. Students will take traditional science classes such as biology and chemistry, as well as classes that are directly related to their chosen field, such as medical terminology, medical records, and other courses. The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the Nursing program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
- Associate of Arts - Health and Wellness
- Associate of Arts in Nursing
Hudson Valley Community College
The college offers certificates and degrees in a variety of allied health and wellness majors. Courses are tailored for each degree program but include courses in biology, chemistry, various labs, and other courses that round out the degree. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
- Associate of Arts in Health and Wellness, General
Tulane University of Louisiana
New Orleans, LA
Tulane offers degrees in several allied health and wellness programs. Courses in biology, chemistry, healthcare administration, business, and other courses are combined to create the degree that matches the student’s interests and educational needs. The school holds accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
- Associate of Arts in Health and Wellness
SUNY - Westchester Community College
Students can study biology, chemistry, and other courses that will lead to a degree in wellness, healthcare, or allied health. The school is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
- Associate of Arts in Health and Wellness - General
Pacific Union College
Students can study health and science courses, as well as adding business courses and other allied health classes such as medical terminology and medical recordkeeping in the pursuit of a degree in health and wellness. The school holds accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
- Associate of Arts in Health and Wellness
Traditional Schools Offering an AS in Health & Wellness
Online programs for associate degrees for health and wellness are a bit rare, but they do exist. We’ve listed associate degrees and certificate programs that can be completed online below.
Harrisburg Area Community College - Harrisburg
Students will learn how to evaluate a patient’s health and wellness needs and attain the skills to help patients recognize issues and create solutions to improve overall health and wellness. The degree includes courses in nutrition and health targeted to men, women, and children.
- Associate in Applied Science in Wellness and Health Promotion
White Mountains Community College
Online, (Berlin, NH)
Students will learn how to help patients define their goals, create plans, and find the tools to meet those goals.
- Associate in Science in Health and Wellness Facilitator
American College of Healthcare Services
Students enrolled in this program of study prepare to help patients with health and wellness issues in a non-clinical setting. A variety of courses are offered, from biology and chemistry to exercise physiology and nutrition.
- Associate in Applied Science in Health and Wellness
Students can receive a certificate in Fitness and Nutrition. Courses include managing personal health and other health and well-being courses.
- Certificate in Health and Wellness
Bay Path University
This is also a certificate program. Students will study courses covering men, women’s and children’s health and nutrition issues as well as exercise techniques.
Healthcare Degree & Career Paths