What Is An Occupational Associate Degree

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 9 minute read

It’s normal to be apprehensive about beginning your college career. It may seem overwhelming to students fresh out of high school or who have been out of school for some time, but many bachelor’s and associate’s degree-granting schools provide an extensive variety of academic options. 

The wide spectrum of liberal arts, social sciences, and degree courses that require an advanced degree to acquire a job might appear irrelevant to students who are searching for instantly practical professional skills.

They also know exactly what they want in life and how to get there. For others, it’s more of a guessing game. That’s when a degree in Occupational Studies comes in handy.

Occupational studies degrees are the practical counterpart of a liberal arts degree. Courses from several areas are integrated into a degree program that may be tailor-made for each student’s individual needs. Occupational studies degrees may come with a variety of predefined specializations. 

This type of specialization can be based on departments at a particular college or institution that are particularly well-regarded, or it can be tailored to meet local needs for highly-skilled graduates in certain fields.

As with all of the degree and career-related subjects we cover here at DegreeQuery, occupational studies is no exception. A large number of the most frequently asked questions about career studies will be addressed below.

There is no need to worry if you don’t find what you’re searching for, though. Below, you’ll find a wide variety of relevant sites.

What are the Available Degrees in Occupational Studies?

Associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in occupational studies are often offered. They’re designed to fill in training gaps not covered by other degrees, combining strong liberal arts and science courses with education specific to a certain profession.

With an occupational studies degree, students can choose from many pre-designed concentrations. Occupational studies programs can provide specialties in a wide range of career-centered skill clusters, but some of the most prevalent specializations include the following:

  • Culinary Arts
  • Facilities Management
  • Medical Assistant or Technologist Positions
  • Radiological Tech
  • Fire Science
  • Construction Technology
  • Agriculture
  • Information Technology
  • Among Others

You may notice that several of these degree programs are also available as stand-alone degrees. This is true, however, not every institution or university has the resources or desire to devote an entire school to each of the aforementioned degree areas.

Occupational studies permit institutions to develop interdisciplinary degrees that include a small cluster of courses tailored toward certain vocations, as well as a wide choice of courses from multidisciplinary departments throughout the college or university.

There are 1.5-2 years of study required for an associate’s degree in vocational studies. Students are most likely to begin their education by completing courses in general education. 

It’s common for these classes to cover a wide variety of the following subjects:

  • Liberal Arts
  • Social Sciences
  • Natural Sciences
  • Art, Music, or Theater
  • Physical Education
  • Mathematics
  • Ethics, Religion, or Philosophy
  • English Literature and Composition
  • Data Literacy
  • Among Other Courses

Taking general education classes in high school is a great way to get a head start on college-level work in a variety of fields. These courses aid in the development of students as well-rounded thinkers, doers, and citizens.

Despite the fact that these courses may not appear to be directly relevant to the occupational skills you’re pursuing in an occupational studies degree, they will certainly help numerous soft and supportive skills for progression and success within your career.

This is a difficult degree, to sum up, because there are so many different specialties under occupational studies that may be pursued. 

As an alternative, certain occupational studies associates can choose between two tracks:

  • Choice of courses within your school’s colleges and departments for an Occupational Studies curriculum
  • Specializations that focus on a certain sort of work

The concentration of occupational studies specializations at the associate’s degree level is on career-focused course clusters that aren’t included in any other degree.

Occupational studies degrees may be an option if your two-year institution does not offer courses in fields such as fire science or radiography technology or a variety of other jobs.

Occupational studies associate degrees are a method for schools and universities to enhance their career-focused courses. Look into occupational studies degrees if you can’t find a degree that’s relevant to your desired employment field.

There are 120 credit hours required for completion at the bachelor’s level, thus students may anticipate spending 3-5 years studying.

Students must complete general education requirements, similar to those for associate degrees in vocational studies often towards the start of their course of study.

It’s a terrific opportunity to experiment with other fields and think of unique ways to use college-level education in preparation for a job of your choice, even if you’re pursuing an occupational studies degree.

Bachelor’s-level occupational studies degrees are more likely than associate-level occupational studies degrees to allow students to design their own majors.

Typically, students can choose from a wide range of courses in almost any career-related major. Many programs also offer pre-defined specialties, generally tailored toward sectors or occupations that are in high demand in the area where the college or university is located.

Graduate-level occupational studies degrees, on the other hand, focus on a completely another topic. Rehabilitating individuals with an emphasis on their employment and life skills is the primary focus of occupational therapy.

This can involve psychological, physiological, and behavioral therapy targeted at achieving the greatest outcomes for clients of any age.

A few master’s degree programs in occupational therapy are referred to as occupational studies, which may cause misunderstanding.

Look for a wide choice of specialties in a number of vocations to see whether this is the sort of program you’re interested in.

An occupational studies degree is what we’ve been talking about so far in this guide instead of an occupational therapy one.

Can I earn an online occupational studies degree?

However, there is one exception to the rule: online associate and bachelor’s degrees in occupational studies. There aren’t many online specializations available for professions that need a lot of hands-on experience.

Examples of this include medical technology-based degrees, fire technology-based degrees, and many others.

Note some of the most often mentioned advantages and disadvantages of online course delivery before you begin. Many students have found online delivery to be a terrific option, but not everyone can benefit from it.

There are several advantages to earning an occupational studies degree online:

  • No need to relocate
  • Designed mostly for those who work full-time.
  • Support services for adult students that are unique in the industry
  • The same as if you were in the classroom\
  • Acknowledged by companies

Online occupational studies education has some drawbacks:

  • Hands-on skills are more difficult to learn online.
  • A higher emphasis on becoming a “self-starter” is now required.
  • Classmates and professors are less approachable.
  • Attending employment fairs and other forms of networking can be challenging.
  • There are certain pupils that study better in person.

It’s impossible to determine for certain which alternative is better for each pupil. Although some students may have a modest preference, the vast majority of pupils prefer one or the other by a wide margin though can make either option work.

DegreeQuery’s linked guide to the finest online degree programs is a great place to start when comparing your online and in-person alternatives.

How can I get into a program for occupational studies?

As the majority of vocational studies programs take place at the undergraduate level, there are many parallels in the application process.

Some community and two-year institutions provide open admission to their degree programs, which can be a big difference for some students.

Admission isn’t truly open when it’s free. Instead, students who complete a few conditions are automatically accepted into the program of their choosing.

When it comes to non-open admissions, a school’s average admission standards might vary from year to year since the best candidates are selected.

You must have a GED or high school diploma, be a resident of the area you’re applying to, and have a high school GPA over a particular threshold to be eligible for open admissions programs. As a general rule, the minimum GPA required to graduate from high school is 2.5.

Students that are accepted into an open admission program are only required to maintain a particular grade point average and take a certain number of credits each semester.

Most programs at the associate’s and bachelor’s levels are not open admissions, despite all of this. A high school GPA within the acceptable range, as well as a declaration of intent, are the only requirements for these programs.

As a first step, prospective students should contact the admissions office or look at the class profile for the last calendar year to get a sense of what previous experience and grades are required for admission to the particular institution.

What Am I Able to Do With a Degree in Occupational Studies?

Degrees in occupational studies are among the most adaptable available. They combine practical professional skills with a well-rounded education in the humanities and sciences.

Because of this, students with an occupational studies degree can go on to work in any number of fields that can be prepared for by a liberal arts background. See this guide for more information on this topic.

In addition, occupational studies degrees provide specialties in a variety of fields that aren’t well-served by other degree types in some places.

The most popular specializations in occupational studies degrees are:

  • Culinary Arts
  • Facilities Management
  • Medical Assistant or Technologist Positions
  • Radiological Tech
  • Fire Science
  • Construction Technology
  • Agriculture
  • Information Technology
  • Among Others

There are a plethora of positions that can be filled with these specializations. We’ll cover some of the most common here.

Front-of-the-house managers are employed in the hospitality industry, particularly in restaurants, bars, and other venues.

They combine culinary and hospitality expertise with marketing, human resources, management, and people abilities.

Many of these dynamic professions are occupied by people who have completed an interdisciplinary course of study that combines critical thinking with business and management, as well as domain-specific expertise like hospitality or culinary studies both available in some occupational studies degree programs.

Front-of-the-house managers are in high demand, with employment positions available in almost every small to the mid-sized city and larger.

According to Payscale, an associate’s degree earns an individual an annual salary of $45,876, which puts them in a good financial position.

In the hospitality industry, there is usually potential for advancement from front-of-house positions to general manager positions.

Secondly, facilities managers are responsible for the day-to-day functioning of many of the places we visit on a daily basis.

This might include universities, hospitals, shopping centers, sporting facilities, and more. Facilities managers require a wide range of skills that several occupational studies degrees may help students learn.

Human resources, logistics, accounting, supply chain understanding, and domain-specific knowledge of the sort of facility you’re managing are some of the areas of knowledge you need to flourish in facilities management.

Facilities management roles may be found in every location where there are facilities which are to say, almost everywhere. The national average income for facilities managers is $97,160, however, this varies substantially by location.

Our third stop is a medical assistant or technologist careers. While many schools and universities offer supplementary degrees in fields that may lead to this employment, many colleges use occupational studies degrees to give curricula they may not otherwise be able to offer.

Occupational studies degrees at several community colleges may include radiological technology curriculum among other things.

Obviously, these multidisciplinary degrees focus on medical, logistical, and technique-centered abilities many of which need to be presented in person.

In order to become a medical assistant or technician, you may wish to check out the medical departments in your college or university first. To get the degree you’re looking for, look into vocational studies programs instead.

As a medical technician or assistant, you may expect to earn more than $70,000 a year, depending on your specific job function. Thus, these jobs are among the highest-paying options for people with an associate’s degree.

Individuals that pursue fire science specializations may be able to rise through the ranks of fire-fighting groups.

While many can join a fire department with a high school certificate, those in leadership roles such as fire marshall, fire captain, and others are frequently needed to obtain associate-level degrees or more.

Some schools and institutions offer a degree in fire science, but it’s also available as a specialization in a broader field of study called occupational studies.

A degree in occupational studies (or something similar) may be available at your institution of choice if you have any interest in becoming a firefighter.

Firefighter salaries can range from $40,000 to more than $80,000 depending on where you work and how senior you are in your career.

Finally, a specialty in construction technology can lead to a wide range of construction-related jobs. There is a wide range of degrees in the construction industry to choose from.

Many of these options aren’t offered at the associate’s or bachelor’s degree level, therefore students must choose an occupational studies degree in construction technology instead.

Engineers and architects who are overseeing a large project or creating a new site collaborate with construction technologists to ensure that each piece is built to specification.

Building technologists may specialize in a particular type of machinery, but they also know how to analyze construction designs, lead small teams, and manage construction budgets.

Construction technologists currently earn an average income of $52,000 a year, however, this figure might vary depending on experience and area.

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