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Guest Voz: Latinas with Associates Degrees: 4 steps to a higher salary career

By Laura Pereyra

New study shows high return on investment for associate degree earners going into healthcare industry

With the new year right around the corner and with doubts floating about whether higher education is a worthy pursuit due to rising costs, Latinas still see the high value of investing in higher education, especially associate’s degrees. Female Latinas make up a whopping 62% of the 112,000 Latinos obtaining associate degrees. Overall, hispanics make up approximately 13% of all associate degree recipients, a seven-fold increase over the last four decades according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

NerdWallet Education’s recently released Jobs in Demand Study, which aggregated all high growth jobs based on analyzed occupational data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), found that occupations requiring an associate’s degree had the highest average growth of 35% compared to the average growth rate of all jobs of 14.3 % projected for 2010-2020. So what occupations with the most future growth should Latinas be pursuing? The answer points to jobs in the healthcare field as baby boomers become older resulting in a higher demand for more specialized health care professionals.

Here are the following actions Latinas can take to make wiser associate degree investments:

1. Learn what healthcare careers will get you the biggest bang for your buck with the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook in english or spanish.

2. Asess what schools will serve your career needs.

3. APPLY to FAFSA and use the FAFSA4caster in english or spanish.

4. Use the NerdWallet Scholarship tool to fund your education.

More specifically, the Jobs in Demand study found the following top jobs requiring an associate’s degree with the highest projected growth and median salaries are: registered nurses, medical sonographers, and dental hygenists with median salaries of $64,690, $64,380, and $68, 250 respectively.

As Latinas thoughtfully consider their education investment options in the new year, it is important to know what fields will yield them the biggest bang for their buck. More importantly, the study shows that with just two years of school, one can earn 40% more and pay back student loans in two years.

All in all, associate degrees and bachelor degrees yield the highest return on Latinas’ higher education investments. If they choose to go to school two years beyond an associate’s degree, she can earn an extra $13,759 on his/her annual salary.

Laura Pereyra is a Communications Associate for the NerdWallet Education group, a company that provides free scholarship search, student loan calculator and college comparison tools. Follow NerdWallet Education on Twitter.

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