American workers are increasingly choosing to be their own bosses. According to a report from Intuit based on data from early 2019, 28% of professionals engage in some form of self-employment activity during any given week. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that 10.3 million Americans may be self-employed by 2026.

If you've dreamed of launching a business, earning an associate degree in small business may help you realize your goal. Associate in small business programs offer classes in subjects like entrepreneurship, small business management, and marketing.

For students who wish to pursue further education, enrolling in an associate in small business program can be the first step toward earning a bachelor's degree.

Should I Get an Associate in Small Business?

Earning an associate degree in small business could give you the edge you need to make your business venture a success.

The demand for small business services varies by field. The BLS projects that service occupations, including personal care and cleaning and maintenance, will add many new jobs for self-employed workers between 2016 and 2026. The BLS defines self-employment in different ways, and not all self-employed workers own businesses. However, by one count, the BLS projects that self-employment could grow 7.9% between 2016 and 2026.

Although owning your own business can be rewarding, it can also be risky. The Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy reports that, based on data from 2005-2017, only 45.4-51% of small businesses remain in operation for more than five years.

However, some professions boast higher small business success rates than others. According to the BLS, small businesses in the healthcare and social assistance industry have a relatively high success rate, whereas small construction businesses have relatively low survival rates.

Earning an associate degree in small business could give you the edge you need to make your business venturea success. Some programs provide training on how to reduce risk when starting a business. Many also offer classes in subjects like finance, marketing, and management.

Completion times vary; however, most students enrolled full time take about two years to earn their associate degree.

Students with an associate degree in small business can sometimes begin working right away, either as small business owners or in a related field, such as business administration. Most small business owners need to apply for specific licenses and permits to operate, which vary by industry.

Students who wish to continue their education can often transfer credits earned in an associate in a small business program toward their bachelor's degree.

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What Will I Learn in a Small Business Associate Program?

Students enrolled in an associate in small business program typically take courses in marketing, accounting, and small business management. Some programs offer courses to help students navigate the legal requirements of owning a business. Others provide training in business administration tools, such as QuickBooks, Excel, and Slack.

These programs also offer opportunities for students to find mentors and network, which may advance their careers.

Students interested in pursuing an associate degree in small business can choose to earn an associate of arts degree, an associate of science degree, or an associate of applied science (AAS) degree.

Those who plan to begin their entrepreneurial endeavors immediately after graduating might consider enrolling in an AAS program. AAS degrees are terminal, which means they may not count toward a bachelor's degree. If you think you might pursue your bachelor's degree, check specific program requirements to make sure credits earned in an associate program are transferable.

Online programs in small business administration and entrepreneurship sometimes offer greater flexibility than on-campus programs. They may be a good option for working professionals earning their associate degree part time.

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What Can I Do With an Associate in Small Business?

Associate in small business programs can provide relevant training for current and aspiring small business owners and small business employees. Graduates can apply their knowledge and skills to build their businesses or pursue careers in related fields like business administration.

Small business owners work in many different industries. They include restaurant franchise owners, educators, accountants, and real estate brokers.

Accounting, real estate, and legal services are among the most lucrative sectors for small business owners. According to the BLS, real estate brokers and sales agents, including those who do not own businesses, earned a median income of $50,730 in 2019. That year, 56% of professionals in this field were self-employed.

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How Much Money Can I Make With an Associate in Small Business?

Salary potential for graduates of associate in small business programs varies by profession. The BLS reports that in 2016, self-employed workers earned a median annual income of over $60,000, which is higher than the average annual income across all professions.

According to PayScale, the average annual salary of small business owners and operators is $65,030. The average annual salary of restaurant owners and operators is $69,840, and realtors earn an average salary of $54,450 per year.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Small Business Programs

What is an associate in small business?

An associate in small business prepares students to operate a small business or franchise successfully. Programs teach students entrepreneurial and managerial skills and explain small business laws and regulations.

How much does it cost to get an associate in small business?

CollegeBoard looked at the cost of attending college during the 2020-2021 academic year. They found that in-state students enrolled in two-year programs at public colleges and universities paid an average of $3,770 in tuition and fees. However, the cost of earning an associate degree in small business varies by program.

Is an associate in small business worth it?

Earning an associate degree may increase your earning potential. According to the BLS, in 2019, associate degree-holders earned higher median weekly incomes and experienced lower unemployment rates than those with less education. However, prospective students should weigh these benefits against other factors, such as cost and the time it will take to earn the degree.

What can you do with an associate degree in small business?

An associate in small business can help individuals launch or expand their businesses by teaching them entrepreneurial skills. The degree can also prepare them for careers in business administration or further education.

What's the difference between an associate in business and an associate in small business?

Associate in business programs teach students business principles and provide general instruction in business administration. In contrast, an associate in small business program focuses specifically on small business planning, marketing, and management. Some associate in business administration programs offer concentrations in small business management or entrepreneurship.