The decision to continue your education is not one to take lightly. Your choice of degree and schooling now will affect your career choices later. An associate in occupational studies and an associate in applied science are both degree options that will allow you to enter the workforce prepared for an entry-level position in your chosen field. However there are slight differences between the degree programs that you need to be aware of before you decide which is best for you.
Associate of Occupational Studies
The associate of occupational studies degree typically consists of 60 hours of coursework, takes about two years to complete and prepares graduates for entry-level positions in their chosen career field. Because the degree is designed to allow students immediate entrance into the workforce upon completion, there is a focus on hands-on experience and learning throughout the coursework. Students working toward an AOS typically have little to no exposure to a liberal arts curriculum, but do have required general education coursework. Some popular careers possible with an AOS include cosmetologist, paralegal, funeral director and computer support technician.
Associate of Applied Science
The associate of applied science degree is designed for working professionals who want to further their education in order to receive a raise or promotion, or for students who need to enter the workforce more quickly. An AAS can usually be earned in less than two years because there are fewer hours of general education coursework than required for other associate degree programs. The curriculum is hands-on, providing practical experience in the chosen career field. Some popular AAS degrees include food service management, medical assisting, automotive technology and graphic design.
Make Your Choice
Finding the degree program that is right for you can be difficult, but there are factors to consider that will make it easier. Choose the career path most appealing to you. Determine if there is a degree program that will help you further your current career or if you want to begin a new path to success. Decide how much time you can dedicate to coursework and how quickly you want to earn your degree. Then contact local or online schools to discuss admissions and financial aid and to have any of your questions answered before you make your final decision.
Get Your Degree
AOS and AAS degrees can be earned online or in a classroom, and from many vocation schools, technical schools and community colleges. Because of the hands-on focus, normally there will be practical activities in either program. This means that usually to earn these degrees, even online learning will not be done completely over the computer. While earning your degree, you will need to dedicate time to studying, meeting coursework requirements and attending classes either online or in person. In two years or less, you will have a degree and be on your way to a successful new career.
Billie Wager has been a public school teacher since 1998. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction, both from Ottawa University. Wager is licensed to teach kindergarten through ninth grade in Kansas.