IT Help Desk Jobs: Associate Degrees vs. Bachelor Degrees

By Tyler Regas

You need to ask to ask yourself what your goals are if you plan to work at an IT help desk job. College offers two stops along the way to graduation. You can either earn an associate’s degree in two years, or you can push for a bachelor’s degree in four.

Common wisdom dictates that, with a college degree, you will earn $1,000,000 in your lifetime. You would think that an associate’s degree would earn you at least $500,000.00 more over your lifetime, but that’s not entirely accurate. Take a look at the following data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As you can see, earnings rise with greater degrees until professional, where doctoral degrees take a slight dip. You can also see that an associate’s degree will only get you $777 a week on average, while a bachelor’s degree averages just over $1,100 a week. These numbers clearly indicate that you will earn just less than half from only two years of higher education.

Education Attained Unemployment Rate in 2013 (%) Median Weekly Earnings ($)
Doctoral degree 2.2 1,623
Professional degree 2.3 1,714
Master’s degree 3.4 1,329
Bachelor’s degree 4.0 1,108
Associate’s degree 5.4 777
Some college, no degree 7.0 727
High school diploma 7.5 651
Less than a high school diploma 11 472

Data are for persons age 25 and over. Earnings are for fulltime wage and salary workers.

Source: Current Population Survey, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Yet, education isn’t everything, and even though the trend has declined somewhat, IT positions often pay more than other entry‐level positions in other industries. While there are no guarantees, with just a few years of experience as a consultant, the right keywords on your resume, and a high school diploma or an associate’s degree, you can get work that pays upward of $25 an hour, slightly higher than the median $19 an hour.