(STACKER) Although it all depends on what you make of it, choosing to further your education may lead to higher paying job opportunities. An associate’s degree takes just two years and offers more affordable tuition rates than a four-year school. As of April 2022, the average yearly salary for an individual with an associate’s degree comes out to $45,989.


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Students have a plethora of specialties to choose from when obtaining a 2-year degree, from industry-specific roles in health care or IT or a more generalized education path. Salaries differ between areas of study, job type, experience, and, of course, location. A Georgetown University study that looked at job growth and education requirements through 2020 stated that 30% of job openings required “at least some college or an associate’s degree.” Students can choose to head right into the workforce after earning an associate’s, or continue their education toward earning a bachelor’s degree.

The unemployment rate for associate’s degree holders is only 2%, according to research from the Education Data Initiative. Having an associate’s degree under your belt is proven to increase one’s chance of holding a professional or management position in any number of industries, among them education and health, wholesale retail and trade, and professional and business services.

Stacker compiled a list of the highest and lowest paying jobs that require a 2-year degree in Las Cruces, NM using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs are ranked by 2021 annual mean wage.

#14. Preschool teachers, except special education

Las Cruces, NM
– Annual mean salary: $28,470
– #444 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 310

National
– Annual mean salary: $36,550
– Employment: 370,940
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA ($49,990)
— Ocean City, NJ ($49,720)
— Vineland-Bridgeton, NJ ($49,560)

#13. Veterinary technologists and technicians

Las Cruces, NM
– Annual mean salary: $33,020
– #325 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 60

National
– Annual mean salary: $37,860
– Employment: 109,490
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($57,990)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($52,220)
— Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA ($51,340)

#12. Human resources assistants, except payroll and timekeeping

Las Cruces, NM
– Annual mean salary: $36,390
– #365 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 50

National
– Annual mean salary: $44,170
– Employment: 108,470
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($60,080)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($55,410)
— Napa, CA ($54,120)

#11. Paralegals and legal assistants

Las Cruces, NM
– Annual mean salary: $44,610
– #350 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 130

National
– Annual mean salary: $56,610
– Employment: 332,720
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($90,640)
— Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA ($76,960)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($75,640)

#10. Civil engineering technologists and technicians

Las Cruces, NM
– Annual mean salary: $47,620
– #249 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 50

National
– Annual mean salary: $56,590
– Employment: 67,270
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($92,190)
— Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($83,250)
— Baton Rouge, LA ($81,340)

#9. Architectural and civil drafters

Las Cruces, NM
– Annual mean salary: $52,070
– #269 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 50

National
– Annual mean salary: $59,120
– Employment: 99,180
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, SC ($76,060)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($75,700)
— Anchorage, AK ($75,650)

#8. Respiratory therapists

Las Cruces, NM
– Annual mean salary: $52,930
– #354 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 40

National
– Annual mean salary: $65,640
– Employment: 131,890
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($113,450)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($109,330)
— Santa Rosa, CA ($101,690)

#7. Radiologic technologists and technicians

Las Cruces, NM
– Annual mean salary: $53,490
– #400 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 90

National
– Annual mean salary: $64,840
– Employment: 206,720
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($127,890)
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($118,480)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($118,100)

#6. Computer network support specialists

Las Cruces, NM
– Annual mean salary: $57,460
– #336 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 140

National
– Annual mean salary: $71,040
– Employment: 184,220
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA ($94,120)
— Barnstable Town, MA ($93,670)
— New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA ($92,190)

#5. Physical therapist assistants

Las Cruces, NM
– Annual mean salary: $58,150
– #218 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 90

National
– Annual mean salary: $59,440
– Employment: 92,740
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($85,960)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($78,740)
— Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA ($76,390)

#4. Aerospace engineering and operations technologists and technicians

Las Cruces, NM
– Annual mean salary: $59,220
– #28 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 40

National
– Annual mean salary: $70,680
– Employment: 11,900
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV ($106,970)
— Oklahoma City, OK ($93,540)
— Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL ($92,190)

#3. Diagnostic medical sonographers

Las Cruces, NM
– Annual mean salary: $67,220
– #263 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 30

National
– Annual mean salary: $77,790
– Employment: 73,920
– Metros with highest average pay:
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($138,110)
— Vallejo-Fairfield, CA ($137,140)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($131,080)

#2. Electrical and electronic engineering technologists and technicians

Las Cruces, NM
– Annual mean salary: $70,910
– #89 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 190

National
– Annual mean salary: $68,310
– Employment: 115,270
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Northeast Virginia nonmetropolitan area ($99,890)
— Fort Collins, CO ($91,980)
— Bakersfield, CA ($90,780)

#1. Dental hygienists

Las Cruces, NM
– Annual mean salary: $77,460
– #160 highest pay among all metros
– Employment: 120

National
– Annual mean salary: $78,050
– Employment: 194,830
– Metros with highest average pay:
— Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA ($125,750)
— San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($122,660)
— San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA ($119,320)