Students with an associate degree tend to earn roughly $1,400 more immediately after graduation than those with a bachelors degree.
A new study shows Tennessee students who earned an associate degree tend to earn more money in their first year after graduation than students who receive a four-year degree.
That study, released on Tuesday, looked at the average first-year earnings of graduates from Tennessee's public colleges and universities offering two and four-year degrees.
Students with an associate degree tend to earn roughly $1,400 more immediately after graduation than those with a bachelor's degree.
The authors of that study also stress that a four-year degree is still a good investment which will usually lead to more income in the long-term.
Vice President for Academic Affairs at Walters State Community College Dr. Lori Campbell said an Associate of Applied Sciences degree is tailored to provide a narrow focus.
"Students that go into those are looking to go out and get a job when they graduate with their two-year degree," she said.
The earnings study points to particular earnings success for students pursuing a degree in health care or technology.
Campbell says while many community colleges prepare students to transfer to a four-year program, they also offer competitive associate degrees. At Walter State, she says about 50 percent of students seek the two-year degree.
A husband and father of three, Bob Stamper is returning to school to pursue a degree in "clean energy technology."
"I've always been interested in the environment, and trying to keep it clean, and trying to have as little impact as you can on it," he said.
Stamper, who is a former business owner and retail hardware employee, is already ready for new career opportunities.
"Just, get a good foundation in my career and just find something I really like to do, and spend the rest of my life being involved in," he said.