How Much More Can I Earn with an Associate Degree?

Community College Isn’t Just a Stepping Stone

For many people, the community college experience is a major step toward improving their quality of life. Every semester, students of backgrounds ranging from recent high school graduates to adults continuing their education enroll in community colleges across the country to start their journeys to great careers. But, what if I told you that the journey isn’t as long as you think, and that some of the best returns on your investment come with an associate’s degree?nurse

If you’re skeptical about the idea that earning an associate’s degree alone can improve your ability to be competitive in the work force, then consider a few points. A person with an associate degree earns on average $15,200 more each year throughout the course of a working lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma. Community colleges tend to offer associate degrees and certification programs related to industries in their areas. At TGCCCC, we work with businesses and organizations within our region so we can offer the programs and training that help our students land jobs in their respective industries.

Gulf Coast Jobs for A.S. Degrees

In the past year, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a list with the top 20 highest paying occupations with an associate degree, with positions ranging from about $50,000 to more than $120,000 in median annual salary. It’s estimated that around 1.6 million new and replacement jobs will be added in the Gulf Coast region by 2020, and these positions will be centered on the healthcare, skilled labor, petrochemical, and technology industries that are growing and flourishing in our region.

The tuition and fees for the average campus-based or online associate degree program average around $5,000 for two years of study. While earning your associate degree at a community college, you’ll have the flexibility to take as many or as few classes as you want, with no penalty for not meeting the status of full-time student. That gives you ultimate flexibility for your work or family commitments. An associate degree education from a community college opens doors for your future at a fraction of the cost of a bachelor’s degree from a four-year university.

One of the great things about making your way through the journey of life is that you never stop learning, whether that’s inside the classroom or out. We know that some of you may choose to return to the classroom later after earning you’re A.S. to pursue a bachelor’s and grow your skillset and advancement opportunities. And, those hours you spent on the associate degree transfer to state universities to apply to your four-year degree. With an associate degree, you’ve taken an important step toward a better career and more opportunities that you simply don’t have with just a high school diploma or GED.

By investing in an associate degree at a community college, you’ll receive the education you deserve from faculty who have worked in the field and can help you become career-ready in an intimate setting. We hope you choose to further your education at a Texas Gulf Coast Community College.

Wanted: Community College Instructors in Houston

TGCCCC Petrochemical DegreesThe expanding petrochemical industry in the Houston/Gulf Coast region is providing opportunities for tens of thousands of students to get a two-year degree at our community colleges and go straight to work for high wages in the next decade. ExxonMobil and other petrochemical and oil & gas corporations are expected to have thousands more jobs opening in the next decade than they will have qualified applicants. So, they’ve given us the task of educating and training the workforce they need in the coming years. We’re more than happy to do that – it fits our member colleges’ mission to a T.

However, our Community College Petrochemical Initiative (CCPI) described on this site has left us with a little workforce issue of our own. Our member colleges don’t have enough instructors to teach all of those CCPI students! While we’re recruiting new students for these courses, we also have to recruit new teachers. Don’t get us wrong – it’s a great problem to have.

And, our need can be a big benefit to you, because you might be qualified to teach our courses even though you’ve never taken a teaching course and might not have a four-year degree yourself. For instance, if you’re an expert pipefitter and you have the experience and background to prove it, you might qualify to teach a piping course with only a high school diploma. If you have an associate or bachelor degree with more experience, that’s even better – but your skills and experience are what we really need to pass along to our students.

One great thing about our petrochemical industry in the Houston/Gulf Coast area is that the companies tend to get employees young and keep them. People often start with ExxonMobil, Dow Chemical or other petrochemical company in their early 20s, and because of good pay and benefits, they may be able to retire at 55 or 60. That leaves relatively young retirees with a lot of time and energy that they can put to good – and profitable – use by teaching the next generation of petrochemical workers. The hours are flexible, we have campuses all over the region, which ensures you a pretty easy commute, and the wages we pay vary by college, but they will be competitive on an hourly basis.

So, if you have an associate degree in computer technology and worked in computer maintenance for three or more years, you can have a second career teaching at one of our community colleges. Or, if you have an A.S. in welding and you’ve been a professional welder for three or more years, we need you to apply and come teach our students.

Every surging industry in the United States creates career opportunities at many levels. It’s up to you – and us – to identify the opportunities that fit you. These teaching opportunities in the vocational fields are historically rare, but the petrochemical boom is far from over – and it’s not the only growing industry in Texas. We need instructors and students in the healthcare field, as well.

Take a look at the petrochemical instructor page we have, and then go visit the individual community college job pages listed at the bottom to see openings at a college near you. You can apply for those openings online, or if you have questions, just contact the career departments for the individual schools. You may have a second career just waiting for you. And, you know it won’t be that annoying when your friends start calling you “Professor”!

Using the GI Bill to Attend Community Colleges is a Great Opportunity for Texas Veterans

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Most people who serve the United States in the military join one of the Armed Forces branches when they are young – often right out of high school. Besides the honor of serving to protect the country, the military provides on-the-job training that can serve veterans well when looking for employment after their service is complete. However, if they want to go to college for a degree that provides a different career path, they’ll be entering school later than their peers.

That’s why getting an associate degree at a community college can be a very wise decision for veterans. After two years, instead of four, veterans will be able to enter their chosen field. And, with the high pay structures, even for entry-level employees, in the petrochemical industry and healthcare industry, many associate degree holders can earn more to start than bachelor’s degree holders in a liberal arts field.

“Our member companies have a long history of employing and supporting veterans,” said East Harris County Manufacturers Association (an alliance of approximately 130 chemical manufacturers) Executive Director Craig Beskid. “Our members recognize the attributes of our veterans – discipline, leadership and strategic planning. These are valued traits in our industry, and you will find many veterans working for refining and petrochemical companies.”

blogpostimage2The modern GI Bill covers tuition, books, and even some housing costs for veterans who enroll in college. For veterans who choose community college first, if they earn their associate degree in two years, they will still have two years of GI Bill coverage if they choose to transfer to a four-year university. By earning the associate degree first, Texas veterans have the option to start earning $40,000 or more right away in a full-time job or to continue their education.

Most of our TGCCCC member colleges have been recognized by GI Jobs magazine as Veteran Friendly Colleges. Many of our campuses have centers that helps veterans through the registration process, tutoring and other support services — ultimately helping them make the most of their community college experience, and be successful.

The Gulf Coast petrochemical industry needs about 80,000 new employees to fill roles that will come available in the next decade – to build and run facilities. These are highly-skilled trade jobs and craft careers, and many would even be considered “white collar.” Almost all of them also only require an associate degree or certificate, and they all pay well – the average annual salary in the Texas chemical industry is $99,700. In addition, the larger oil and gas industry, as well as the healthcare industry and others are booming throughout Texas.

“Our Bayer MaterialScience chemical manufacturing plant has been particularly keen on tapping into the 1.2 million technically talented veterans expected to leave the military in the next several years,” says Shirlyn Cummings, Bayer MaterialScience’s Talent Management Director for NAFTA Production & Technology.

There has never been a better time to get a degree from a community college. And, if you’re a veteran, you can get it for free. Then you can start your new job on the right foot and on a sustainable, lucrative career track. So, browse through the careers in our Community College Petrochemical Initiative, and then contact your local community college to find out which two-year degree might be right for you.

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