What Can I Do With an Associates in Management Degree?

If you’re interested in an associates in management degree, you’re likely at the cusp of leveling up in your future career. You know you can effectively manage part of an organization or start your own endeavor. You just need a little help or would like to understand the best practices within management roles. 

Luckily for you, there are more associates in management than ever before. And these degrees can often be pursued for relatively little money (or for free in some states). If you then decide to continue your course of study at the bachelor’s level, you’ve achieved roughly half of the credits required at a much discounted rate. 

So what should you consider when pursuing an associates in management? In this guide we’ll look at the following questions. 

Table of Contents

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What is an associates degree in management?

Associates degrees are traditionally two-year degrees. With this said, individuals who take extra large course loads or have some AP credit from high school can definitely finish these degrees in one to 1.5 years. 

Around 60 credit hours are required, and a majority of these credits are general education requirements. These are meant to ensure that you have a broad range of skills expected of a higher education graduate. 

General education requirements typically include entry level courses in the following: 

  • English
  • A quantitative (math-related) discipline
  • A natural science
  • A social science (like psychology, or economics)
  • A creative field (like theater or pottery)
  • And physical education

On top of these courses, most associates degrees give you the option to have both a minor and a major. Minors within associates degrees typically involve 2-3 courses within a given discipline, with at least one being above the entry level. “Majors” within an associates degree typically require around four to seven courses. 

Within a major in management at the associates level, the following are common courses: 

  • Mathematics For Business
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Economics I
  • Business Writing
  • Principles of Management
  • Introduction to Business
  • Financial Management
  • Business Law

Typically individuals pursuing an associates in management can get the most “bang for their buck” by doubling down with their associates-level minor. By choosing a second business-related discipline like one of the following, you can take close to the course equivalent of a bachelor’s-level degree in number of management-related courses. 

  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Administration
  • Project Management

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Can I Pursue an Associates in Management Online? 

Associates degrees that don’t require labs (like health or natural science-related degrees) are some of the most common online degrees. Many community colleges allow students to pursue degrees entirely online, or at the very least all major courses online. 

Management graduates who pursue their degree entirely online get the exact same degree as those who study in-person, and in many schools have just as wide of a range of choices when it comes to courses one can pursue. 

While many, many students have excelled through online education, students should be aware that there are certain trade offs. This is particularly the case for first-time seekers of higher education. 

Online education Pros: 

  • No need to move
  • Often flexible with a work schedule
  • Many programs are asynchronous (courses can be attended when you have time)
  • Same degree as in person

Online education Cons: 

  • Lack of social connections
  • Lack of college “experience”
  • Courses heavy on conversation may lack
  • Not all courses may be available online (depending on degree type)

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What Job Opportunities Can An Associates in Management Create? 

An associates in management degree can lead to lucrative and rewarding careers of a few types. 

First, individuals who already work in a field may find opportunities for advancement. This is a great route as an associates in management may not lead to managerial positions in all fields. But if you already have some experience within a field (or are willing to get some after graduation), an associates may be enough to build on this domain knowledge and help you advance. 

Secondly, some fields do not require a bachelor’s degree for managers. In these types of businesses, an associates can let you jump right into a management position. Typically locations that do not require a bachelor’s degree for management include skilled trades, construction, and retail. While this may seem limiting, this list includes millions of businesses across the United States!

Third, associates in management degrees are often the most affordable (and sometimes quickest) ways to get your first two years of a bachelor’s in management degree completed. If you’re planning on pursuing a bachelor’s degree in management, then your options for where you can obtain a job immediately after graduation will likely grow substantially. 

While the above three categories give you a high-level view of your options, below we’ll list a few particular jobs that an associates in management can lead to. 

Project management positions involve managing a team centered around one particular project at a time. Typically these managers work very closely with a group of 4-10 individuals. The primary objectives of project managers are to achieve organizational goals without going over budget, getting distracted, or engaging in “project creep.” Additionally, project managers regularly deal with their team members and so are often first-line for resolving workplace issues, helping to provide career development opportunities, and generally keeping group cohesion good. Additionally, project managers often interface with upper management including program managers, who are often in charge of several projects at once. 

Though the average salary varies based on the field you’ll be working in, most project management positions pay over $100,000 a year. 

Retail managers help to manage brick and mortar locations. These managers are often “on the floor” with their workers and help to institute protocols, grade worker performance, and help workers to best achieve organizational objectives. Often retail settings are part of larger “chains” of stores, and retail managers may be in charge of passing policies created at a corporate office down to their teams. 

The average pay for retail managers is over $60,000 a year, though depends on the size of the store you are managing. 

Construction managers help to bridge the gap between general contractors, architects, and those who own or are paying for a construction development. While education of some sort of typically required to gain the position of construction manager, individuals within construction and building disciplines can gain much of their industry experience that supplements academic knowledge on the job. 

Construction managers are in particularly high demand. And for individuals who work their way up to manage large projects, they can earn significantly more than the average wage for construction managers. The average wage for construction managers is presently $88,000. 

IT Managers help to lead information technology professionals in their support of organizational goals including productivity, information security, staying on budget, and forward-looking technological support. IT is an interesting field in that individuals can move up throughout the ranks with experience and no college degree. This is not to say that a college degree won’t help you get ahead in this field. But rather that individuals willing to spend some time gaining IT experience can definitely jump into the managerial ranks with an associates degree. 

IT management positions are available in nearly every large organization type. And perhaps most common within health care, education, governmental, and large corporate organizations. The average pay per year for IT managers is presently $88,000. 

Front of house, back of house, or executive managers work in hospitality settings. This is one field where there tends to be no academic prerequisites for joining the managerial ranks. Rather, one should have worked in a similar hospitality setting. With that said, an associates in management can be a quick way to show expertise in some managerial matters. Of note is the fact that front of house managers are in charge of waiters, bartenders, and service for customers visiting (in particular) food establishments. Back of house managers are typically in charge of logistics, cooking or customer care that requires more preparation such as cleaning or facilities. Executive managers are typically in charge of both front of house and back of house. Salaries vary greatly between these positions depending on which location is managed. With this said, an associates in management can be used to gain entry to hospitality management positions. 

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What Are Some Alternatives To Associates in Management Degrees? 

Management degrees are typically employed in an individual field of work. Whether that’s healthcare or information technology, or retail, or construction, managers are expected to know the subject matter of the field they’re managing in. What this means is that if you have some idea of the discipline in which you want to manage, you may want to pursue either experience or education in this field.

If you’re trying to gain some education within the a common managerial discipline, the following topics can be great to gain a second major in, continue on to a bachelor’s with, or gain a minor in: 

  • Information technology
  • Cyber Security
  • Information Sciences
  • Health Care Administration
  • Construction or Building
  • Engineering
  • Commerce

Additionally, individuals can gain further education in subdisciplines of business. This may involve taking a cluster of additional courses in one of the following topics: 

  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Real Estate
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Leadership

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Continuing Education With Associates in Management Degrees? 

A third option besides gaining experience in the workplace or obtaining a minor or a second associates-level major to complement your degree is to use your associates degree to get ahead at the bachelor’s level. 

Associates degrees are some of the best “bang for your buck” degrees available. This is because the average cost for an associates degree is well below half of the average cost for a bachelor’s degree. And in many community college districts and even entire states, associates degree programs are free for in-district or state students. 

A few ways you can use your associates degree to get ahead include: 

  • Take extra courses at the associates level before transferring to a bachelor’s degree program. Typically courses are much less expensive in associates-providing settings.
  • Take online courses, which are common at the associates level, so that you can gain insight into the field you want to manage in upon graduation. 
  • Take advanced or AP-level courses in high school. These are almost always transferable credits in community college settings. And many times these credits are transferable at the bachelor’s level. 
  • Find a community college or community college district that has a transfer agreement with a four-year school you would like to attend. Some of the best universities in the country participate in transfer agreements that stipulate if you graduate from a community college with a set GPA that you can transfer directly into the school. 
  • Find prestigious four year colleges that have “bridge” programs where you may take one or two courses over the summer before you matriculate for acceptance. 
  • Find a free or low cost associates degree-providing college and pursue a double or triple major. 

If you do decide to continue your studies at the bachelor’s level, there are a few options that are particularly opportune. The first is pursuing the exact same major that you pursued at the associates level. In this case, presumably that may be management. This may allow you to speed up your time until degree by transferring in both general education credits as well as a core chunk of your major credits. Alternatively, this can let you take even more advanced courses within your bachelor’s-level major to show deeper competency. 

A second route includes relying on your associates in management degree to show competency in management, and then deep diving into a related discipline (or a synergistic discipline). This can be a great way to be able to jump right into a managerial role as your first job. Due to the fact that most managerial positions will require knowledge of management and some knowledge of or experience within the given discipline you’re working, this can be a great boost that allows you to bypass entry-level jobs. 

Examples of synergistic degrees that allow you to gain domain knowledge to pair with management skills include: 

  • A health care field
  • A natural science field
  • A logistics degree
  • An engineering degree
  • An IT degree
  • A data-heavy degree
  • A business sub discipline degree (finance, accounting, marketing, leadership)

Additionally, if you’re going to pursue business and management past the associates level, you should note that many degrees can be prerequisites for a master’s in business administration. Among management-related degrees, MBAs are by far the most well recognized. 

Some degrees you may not expect score the highest on master’s in business administration entrance exams. The overall trend seems to be that individuals who get a solid education that teaches them to write, read, be articulate, and provides some quantitative reasoning skills do well at MBA admissions. In particular: 

  • Philosophy Degrees
  • History Degrees
  • Computer Science Degrees
  • Engineering Degrees
  • Chemistry Degrees

Of note, no business-related degrees make the top 10 for admissions to master’s in business administration programs. This isn’t to say that a business degree at a level lower than an MBA won’t greatly help your career in management. But rather that you should feel free to pursue a range of degree types if your ultimate aim is to gain acceptance into an MBA program. 

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Carrie Morris

Warren Dahl