An associate degree in health science opens up many career paths for students who want to help others. Graduates often qualify for entry-level jobs that lead to many opportunities in the field. Additionally, entry-level positions give students some solid experience before they pursue an advanced degree and other career opportunities. Salaries for sonographers and MRI technologists are upwards of $60,000 a year, which is much higher than many other fields. Students can launch a potentially lucrative career right out of school in the health science field.
Should I Get an Associate Degree in Health Science?
Students interested in the health science field should consider earning their health science associate degree. Students develop a solid foundational skill set they can use daily on the job. They explore different outlets of health science, such as management and patient care, and learn how to communicate effectively with patients and other professionals. During their program, students connect with classmates and instructors to create lasting professional relationships. These connections serve as networking opportunities, alerting students to potential internships or jobs.
Through an associate program, students can create a foundation in the field and apply their knowledge in an entry-level position. Some students may choose to pursue their bachelor's in a different or related area while others continue their education to expand their career opportunities in the health science field. Online programs are well-suited for students with families, full-time jobs, or other time commitments. On-campus programs are best for students who benefit from attending a physical class each day and meeting in person.
What Can I Do With an Associate in Health Science?
Graduates with their health science associate degree can pursue several different career paths. Many areas in the healthcare field offer employment opportunities for professionals with their associate degree. For example, in the radiology field, graduates work as radiologic or MRI technologists. In administration, graduates work as medical records and health information technicians, managing patient information. Read on for additional careers open to individuals with an associate in health science.
- Radiologic or MRI Technologist
Responsible for performing diagnostic imaging examinations on patients, these professionals operate magnetic resonance imaging scanners to create diagnostic images. They typically work in hospitals or other healthcare facilities.
Median Annual Salary: $60,070
- Medical Records and Health Information Technician
In charge of organizing and managing health information data, these individuals ensure that information maintains accuracy, quality, and security in electronic and paper files. They use various classification systems to categorize and code patient information; maintain medical and treatment histories; and update databases and registries.
Median Annual Salary: $39,180
- Diagnostic Medical Sonographer
Also known as diagnostic imaging workers, these professionals operate special imagining equipment to create images and conduct specific tests. The test results and images help physicians diagnose and assess medical conditions.
Median Annual Salary: $65,620
- Home Health Aide
These workers assist people with chronic illnesses, disabilities, or cognitive impairment with their daily activities. They typically provide assistance to older adults. In certain states, home health aides give patients medication or check their vital signs under nurse or healthcare practitioner supervision.
Median Annual Salary: $23,130
How to Choose an Associate Program in Health Science
When researching health science associate degree programs, students should consider several factors, including whether they prefer an online or on-campus program. Online programs work well for students who require flexibility, while on-campus programs work best for students entering college directly from high school as they provide face-to-face interaction.
Program cost is another factor students should consider when choosing their ideal program. They should research the cost of tuition, room and board, fees, technology costs, and transportation. Once they compile these costs, they can subtract their awarded financial aid amount to determine what they can afford.
Students also must choose full-time or part-time enrollment when deciding on a program. The enrollment students choose impacts their program length, but also changes the amount of credits they must take each semester. Students should consider how many credits they can handle and how long they would like to spend finishing their program. Students also must research curriculum before choosing a program. Each program offers its own unique curriculum that students can usually review in advance to determine whether the coursework interests them or not.
Associate in Health Science Program Admissions
Admissions professionals work diligently to ensure they admit the right students. They determine a list of criteria students must meet as well as materials they must submit with their application. Because online students enjoy a more flexible learning environment, admissions teams work even harder to determine if online students are the right fit for the program before granting them admission.
To keep options open, students should apply to a few different colleges. To choose a college, students should evaluate the elements they deem important and review what each program offers. Students must pay an application fee each time they apply to a different school, so it remains wise to apply only to schools they would like to attend.
- Application: Applications take students about 15-20 minutes to complete and generally require basic information.
- Transcripts: Health science associate degree programs require students to submit their high school transcripts during the application process so they can evaluate what course material students have completed and what grades they earned.
- Application Fee: Application fees for health science associate degree applicants usually cost around $25. In certain circumstances, students may be eligible for a fee waiver.
Educational Paths for Health Science Associate Programs
Many colleges allow students to transfer straight from their associate degree in health science into a bachelor's program. Transferring to a bachelor of science program allows students to access a wider variety of career opportunities and higher salary options due to the availability of more prestigious jobs. Students often avoid the lengthy application and admission process by transferring straight from their associate program into a bachelor's program at the same college.
- Bachelor of Science in Health Science
Typically comprised of 120 credits, this program provides learning opportunities to increase the knowledge and skills needed to engage with interprofessional teams to advocate for quality care, create a solid foundation for study at the graduate level, and expand career potential in the health science field.
- Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management
Requiring about 120 credits, this program instructs students interested in pursuing a career in healthcare management. Coursework prepares students to fulfill the duties and responsibilities required of managers in the healthcare field.
- Bachelor of Science in Public Health
Consisting of courses revolving around the arts and sciences as well as public health, this program lingers around 120 credits. Students cover a broad curriculum that sets out to promote and protect the health of populations and embrace the importance of worldwide health.
What Else Can I Expect From an Associate Program in Health Science?
Health science programs vary by college. Each program contains its own curriculum and requires its own amount of credits, resulting in a unique program length. However, many associate in health science programs share common threads.
Courses in an Associate Program in Health Science
Coursework in an associate program in health science covers a range of topics including chemistry, genetics, and microbiology. Though most programs cover the foundations of health science, they each offer varying curricula that uniquely cover a specific set of topics.
- Fundamentals of Science
Focused on providing students with the basic concepts of scientific disciplines, this class introduces students to topics including environmental science, physical science, biology, genetics, and chemistry. The course relates real-world examples to each scientific discipline to help students identify the relationship between the real world and their coursework.
- Interpersonal Communications
Students learn the importance of interpersonal communication and how to be a more effective communicator in personal and professional situations. Coursework focuses on a variety of contexts including personal, social, and cultural aspects.
- Principles of Chemistry
Allowing students to examine chemistry's most basic principles, this course emphasizes the chemical processes that affect students' daily lives. They learn about chemical properties and reactions as well as how to understand the natural and human-made world.
This course allows students to explore microorganisms and their role in disease and health. They discuss the properties of prokaryotes and eukaryotes; and explore metabolism, genetics, morphology, and physicochemical characteristics.
Exploring the molecular foundation of genetics in human health, this course examines developmental genetics, cancer genetics, and immunogenetics. Students use case studies to understand the roles of dominant and recessive genes in a variety of diseases.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Associate in Health Science?
Health science associate degree programs usually take students about two years to complete. Though two years is the typical program length, many factors impact the amount of time it takes to finish the degree. When determining program length, students should consider whether they can attend full time or part time.
Full-time students finish the program in two years, but part-time students take longer to finish. Some programs allow students to double up on credits or take courses over the summer to complete the program faster. Individuals with families or those who work full time can often take fewer credits in a semester. Some colleges charge a different tuition rate for students who are enrolled part time, though some colleges charge a universal rate.
How Much is an Associate in Health Science?
Many factors impact the cost of an associate degree in health science. Students should first consider tuition. Each program assesses its own unique tuition rates and structures. Most colleges offer an in-state tuition rate and a more expensive out-of-state rate. Some colleges provide a special rate for online students and some colleges apply the in-state rate to online students since they do not exhaust the same resources as on-campus students.
Students must also evaluate room-and-board expenses. The cost of living impacts rent costs as well as wages from surrounding job opportunities. Students should research these costs before choosing a program to evaluate how much these factors contribute to the overall cost of their education. Finally, students should consider how much financial aid they receive to determine which programs they can afford.
Professional Organizations in Health Science
Students who have their health science associate degree can join a health science professional organization to enjoy many benefits. Professional organizations often host seminars and training events to help professionals develop their skills and knowledge to advance their career. Events also provide valuable networking opportunities, helping connect professionals in the field.
This organization boasts communications professionals who are committed to sharing their knowledge and resources in the science and health areas. The association hosts different events and festivals for members to enjoy.
Established in 1974, NAAHP boasts a membership of more than 1,850 health professions advisers at colleges and universities around the world. The association coordinates events and efforts of regional associations so health professions advisers can function together.
Known as the leading organization for healthcare administrative management, this organization provides education, networking, certification, and advocacy. The association also offers members regular trainings, updates, and resources.