Overview of an Associate in Project Management Degree
An associate degree is the lowest level of actual degree you can earn. It shows that you have the ability to go through the process of earning a degree without taking up 4 years of your life. While an associate in project management degree may not gain you access to the highest levels of employment, it will allow you to get into the field, gain entry-level positions, work your way up through a company, give you a boost in entering bachelor’s degree programs for business management, business administration, or project management degrees. It may also allow you to gain experience, internships, and employment. If you go on to earn your Bachelor of Science in Project Management later, you’ll have the option to work while you make your way through school, possibly significantly lowering the debt you end up with at the end of your education.
The benefits of an associate degree in project management occur in the speed with which you earn it and the foundation it provides for you future. Applied science degrees focus on enabling the student to enter the workforce immediately after graduation. These programs use extensive lab and real-world settings to provide hands-on training and instruction. Students get fast results; you can complete the degree in 18-24 months. Students with applied science degrees could enter the workforce two or more years sooner than those seeking a four-year degree. However, the associate of science and associate of arts degrees prepare students for four-year degrees which are the most widely-used for those hired as project managers.
The associate degree in project management can be an entry-level education for jobs and occupations in the project management field. Associate degree holders may be able to get jobs that help them gain experience with the duties and responsibilities of project managers. However, many employers ask for a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree in business management or project management when selecting project managers. The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification demonstrates competence in project management. Holders of an associate degree will need 7,500 hours of relevant work experience to qualify for the PMP examination offered by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Those with an associate degree might do better to start with the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) at this level of education.
Certificate vs. Associates
Many schools offer certificates in various fields, such as business management or project management. These are generally short courses of one year or less that focus on a narrow subject area. In the field of project management, certificates can run from a few weeks to one year and offer specific courses on the fundamentals of project management. Certificates can be valuable and if they have wide acceptance or if they meet the requirements and standards of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK). Certificate courses can prepare applicants for the project management institute (PMI) Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) exam and the PMP credential.
A certificate in project management is the shortest way to achieve a credential that can support entry into the project management profession. The undergraduate certificate does not require a college education. The graduate certificate requires a bachelor’s degree or higher level of formal education. Online project management courses may also be available, making this an even more attractive option.
What Project Management Associate Degrees are Available?
- Associate of Science (AS) degrees are like the associate of arts in that it prepares graduates to go further towards a bachelor’s degree. The associate of science differs from the associate of arts by requiring more science, math, and technical course content.
- An Associate in Applied Science (AAS) offer a career or vocational level of education. They may or may not provide an educational base for a bachelor’s degree in project management; the determining factors are in the course selection. The associate of applied science degree is especially useful for students that do not plan on going further and getting a bachelor’s degree. The AAS degree puts maximum attention on the skills and knowledge that the student will need to enter an occupation after graduation.
- Associate of Arts (AA) programs resemble the first two years of a four-year college program. The AA curriculum includes general education courses and a wide range of business and similar offerings. Many community colleges offer AA degrees and work with four-year schools or community college courses at the four-year college level to ensure credit transfers.
- Associate of Applied Business (AAB) is a vocational and occupational degree program; the Applied business degree prepares graduates to go to work in many types of business environments. Many applied business degrees do not have transferable credits towards a bachelor’s degree, but each institution differs on this and students will need to investigate prospective schools for themselves. The applied business degree is an ideal choice for those that do not intend to seek a bachelor’s or higher-level degrees in business or project management.
- Associate of Applied Arts (AAA) is a degree aimed at preparing students to enter the workforce ready to perform. The AAA degree uses practical situations and hands-on instruction to enable graduates to perform at a high level.
An associate degree program in project management is an entry-level degree that can open a pathway for students from an assistant-type role into full professional status as project managers. The requirements for admission to an associate level of education include a high school diploma, GED, or another educational equivalent.
Applicants can also take preliminary courses that strengthen the application and reduce the need for additional classes in college. If students take solid mathematics, sciences, and computer science courses while in high school, before entering an associate degree program, they’ll have an easier time getting into, and through, an applied degree course.
How long does it take to earn a Project Management Associates?
A typical associate degree curriculum runs two years, or four semesters. The requirements vary with each school, but a typical range is between 60 to 65 semester hours. Most schools require some type of internship or other hands-on experience as well. Some programs are extensive and require semester hours in the range of 85-90 overall.
Some students can shorten the time needed to complete an associate degree to less than two years. They can do things like take additional courses during the school year and take advantage of policies such as credit for life experience, competency testing, and credit for other coursework. As long as they complete all courses, they will be prepared for certifications such as the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM).
Potential Careers in Project Management with an Associate
- Human Resources Assistants work to support a wide range of personnel management functions. They promote efficiency, and they can represent the organization in all types of employee matters. They typically manage communications with employees including hires, terminations, and information about benefits.
The median salary range for a human resources assistant is about $40,000.
- Project Assistants work closely with project managers. They help guide the overall project to a successful conclusion by managing each step of the process. Assistants can play important roles, such as overseeing specific parts of the project and providing communications support for the manager.
The median salary range for a project assistant is about $43,000.
- Supply Chain Analysts help their organizations run smoothly and efficiently by providing the right flow and location of supplies, materials, and other requirements. They must coordinate with employees across their organizations and communicate effectively.
The median salary range for a Supply Chain Analyst is about $58,000.
- Associate Project Managers can play the important role of coordinating communications and events in the process of managing a project. The associate can help create plans, timelines, and budgets. The associate plays a key role in solving problems and issues.
The median salary range for an associate project manager is about $56,000.
- Budget Analysts assist and analyze budget plans and options. The analyst is key in the budget development and budget management process including changes and revisions.
The median salary range for a budget analyst is about $60,000.
- Project Coordinators can manage projects of significant size and importance to their organizations. These include new products, marketing strategies, or other goals. In day-to-day operations, they can coordinate events, conferences, or other activities. Coordinators can work between organizational divisions to coordinate the company as a whole.
The median salary range for a project coordinator is about $49,000.
Options to Advance
The associate degree in project management, or an associate degree in business with a concentration in project management, is a stepping stone to a career in project management. The options for advancement include a bachelor’s degree, a graduate certificate, and a master’s degree in project management. For those that seek to become experts or college-level faculty, there are doctoral programs centered around project management that can help fulfill those goals.
Best Associate of Science in Project Management Programs
Few schools offer an associate degree in project management. Some schools offer certificate programs that have project management coursework. These schools may be excellent places to get a business degree and focus on project management while completing an AS or another associate degree in business. The below-listed schools offer on-campus programs for an associate degree in project management.
Dallas County Community College District
This district has a network of seven physical locations and community college organizations. The district serves about 70,000 students.
- Associates of Science in Business Administration
- Project Management Certificate
Macomb County Community College
Macomb College offers applied education with associate of arts and science degree programs in on-campus and online programs. Students can gain an associate degree that combines the elements of project management with the completion of a certificate program in project management, or they can pursue a bachelor’s degree.
- Associate of Business Administration
- Project Management Certificate
This college offers on-campus education in business management consistent with project management preparation. The programs include applied science degrees aimed at helping the student enter the workforce immediately.
- Business Management Associate of Technical Arts degree
- Business Management - Project Management Certificate
Everett Community College
This school offers transferable and non-transferable associate degrees in business. Students can select based on their choice of entering the workforce immediately or continuing on to a bachelor’s degree.
- Associate in Business
- Business Administration, Associate in Technical Arts
- Project management Certificate Program, with college credit toward bachelor’s degree
City University of Seattle
CityU offers on-campus education in business, including an associate of science degree. The school offers an individualized Associate of Science program that permits tailoring coursework to meet the student’s goals.
- Associate of Science in Business
- Project Management Certificate Program, with college credit toward bachelor’s degree
Traditional Schools Offering an AS in Project Management
University of Massachusetts - Lowell
UMass at Lowell offers a comprehensive Associate’s degree in Management. The 65-hour degree is online and teaches students critical thinking and problem-solving in the framework of business fundamentals and leadership.
- Associate Degree in Management
Macomb County Community College
Macomb Community College offers project management certificates and degrees in construction management. Students can use the project management coursework towards degree programs.
- Project Management Certificate
- Associate of Applied Science Degree
St. Paul, Minnesota
Rasmussen College offers career-focused education and degree programs at the associate level. The Rasmussen management supervision and leadership curriculum is a 91 credit-hour sequence. Rasmussen offers sequential education, in which a short or two-year degree program can be added to in order to form a four-year degree.
- Associate’s in Applied Science in Human Resources and Organizational Leadership
Raleigh, North Carolina
The project management curriculum will equip graduates with skills to start and advance in the field of project management. The subjects include accounting, budgeting, ethics, law, and management. The program’s standards align with the Project Management Institute.
- AAS in Project Management
- Project Management Certificate
The University offers an online Associate of Science degree in Business Management that includes coursework in project management as well as in the related disciplines needed for effective project management such as business law, management, marketing, microeconomics, and macroeconomics.
- Associate of Science in Business Management.
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