An Associates Degree Is Useless

One of my goals during my vacation was to seriously explore other jobs. I currently work a part-time union job at UPS which I honestly feel is below my capabilities. I do think I’m intelligent and clever and working at UPS shipping packages seems so anticlimactic to what I think — and somehow know — my real potential is. The entire issue for me is how to realize this potential which I seem totally unable to do through insecurities or indecisiveness. I think my life can mean more than working a part-time job at UPS and I’m trying to find out what that more actually is.

(Big NOTE here on how I seem to be defining my self-worth based on what job I work. I know if you take this too far it’s dangerous — we’re all more than our jobs — but if you don’t take it far enough you’d be making the opposite mistake. There is no way I can be working at UPS in 20 years and feel happy about it. I just can’t. It’s inevitable that I’d feel like I squandered my life. If you are happy working whatever shitty job you have, great, I’m actually jealous of people that can do this. I think I’m hopelessly not one of these people.)

I started looking for piloting jobs to no avail. I have a commercial pilot’s license which means theoretically I can get paid to fly, but it doesn’t really work out that way in the real world. I can’t be an airline pilot (they require 1,500 hours) and I can’t fly a multi-engine airplane. Those alone cut me out of like 97% of all jobs. Did I find anything I could do? No. They all require things slightly above my current experience, like 1,000 hours, 2,000, or whatever. I have a commercial pilot’s license but can’t do a damn thing with it realistically. Luckily I knew this when I got the license; the commercial license is basically useless unless you know someone to hook you up with a job and mostly serves as a stepping stone to other certifications.

I checked out a few other places. Jobs at the local Amazon facility; maybe I could be a delivery driver or something? No. Nothing. The only positions opened were entry level grunt work warehouse bullshit (that I’m unwilling to settle for, especially since I worked there five years ago) or mid/upper management work that I’m nowhere near qualified for. There was nothing for me, me being the sort of not-a-high-school-kid but also not 40-with-a college-degree-and-work-experience. I’m someone caught between being a high school graduate and a college graduate.

Because I have an Associates Degree in Science. Yay?!

I checked a few other random places like Thermo Fisher Scientific. They had some more entry level positions (‘Associate Manufacturing Technician’) and some upper-level positions, but once again nothing that fit my shitty mid‐tier associate degree of science. Once again, I don’t want to work a job that someone with a high school diploma or a GED could do but wasn’t qualified to do any of the higher-level work such as what an ‘Organic Synthesis Chemist’ would do.

And onto fucking SpaceX if you can believe it. Why the hell not? Let’s see what jobs they offer. Once again there was the same split between entry-level work and expert work. Most of the jobs required a Bachelor’s or higher while a few remaining jobs only required a high school diploma with nothing in between. I could be a SpaceX ‘Barista’ but couldn’t be a ‘GNC Satellite Attitude Determination & Control Engineer’. I couldn’t find a single job mentioning an associate degree and felt trapped between the poles of being under qualified and overqualified for anything. 

Granted I only looked at a handful of jobs, but I feel this could confirm what my cynical friend has said about his own associates degrees: they’re glorified high school diplomas. They offer nothing in the way of benefits and only serve as a stepping stone to higher degrees. An associates degree is apparently only useful if you grab it on your way to a bachelor’s degree. And I don’t know how I feel about this.

I went back to school around the age of 27 or so after dropping out of college around 20. I wanted to say that I went back to college and actually did something with my life. And I did. I got my damn degree in the mail one day without the fluff and bullshit of a graduation ceremony. All that mattered to me was the degree and I didn’t feel the need to share the success with my friends and family. Who cares? It’s not a big deal really. I showed up, did the work, and got my degree. But when I found it in the mail one day I did feel something. The final realization that “I did it? I did it.” That I finally accomplished something in life after slacking for a decade. I didn’t know what I’d do with it at the time but surely I’d figure it out.

Cut to today. 34 years old and checking out random jobs and realizing my associates degree is totally useless. All that matters is the Bachelor’s and higher. I’m basically a glorified high school student with no practical life benefits to having obtained this degree. It’s not a good feeling to know what you’ve accomplished isn’t enough and there’s always more to do. Countless other people that are more accomplished than you that have life seemingly more figure out than you and get actually get through life. And here I am writing some shitty blog complaining about it all. Should I work towards a bachelor’s degree in whatever or keep trying to bullshit some piloting job? With no clear way forward, what do you choose? As always if someone has answers to these questions, please fill me in because I’m fucking clueless.

And if you found a good job with an associates degree, what the hell was it?

Check out my Instagram where I post pointless artistic pics every whenever I get around to it.

Or my other blog where I sometimes post stories.

Or Wattpad where I have a Morrowind fanfic ongoing.

Or my Facebook page where I don’t do much of anything at all, but I do appreciate more followers.


10 responses to “An Associates Degree Is Useless”

  1. ceponatia Avatar

    Associates degrees are like your pilot’s license… Stepping stones. You can get an entry level job with someone but you usually need to know someone. Especially now with a lot of the country jobless. Not a great time to be looking even with a master’s degree.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. TheBlackhairedGuy Avatar

      Exactly. I imagine what will happen if everyone has a degree. Eventually you’ll get to a point where those don’t matter at all. There will always need to be someone cleaning toilets, picking up garbage, and cooking burgers despite having a degree.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Shawna Avatar

    I have an Associates Degree. I am a RN. I make $100k a year. Explain to me again- how is that useless?? Hahahaaa.


    1. Kent Avatar

      You make $100k because you’re an RN…Not because you have an Associates Degree. And as one article puts it for becoming an RN…”While an associate degree serves as the minimum requirement, some employers and states only hire nurses with a bachelor’s degree.” Your Associates was, as another poster put it…a stepping stone.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. TheBlackhairedGuy Avatar

        I suppose I’m complaining about the amount of “stepping stones” required. It reminds me of getting my pilot’s license. You get the private, cool huh? It’s just a stepping stone to the instrument rating. Cool! But that’s just a stepping stone to the commercial license. Now you can make money flying right? No. That’s just a stepping stone to the instructor rating. And that’s just a way to build hours until you reach 1,500 hours to get your airline transport pilot certificate. Then you can be hired by a shitty commuter airline which is a stepping stone to a REAL JOB as an airline pilot making bank. While I suppose you can be proud of each accomplishment along the way, it’s frustrating that these steps, like an associates degree, are little more than a jumping off point for bigger and better things.


  3. Harper Avatar

    I have my countries version of an associates degree. I also have 2 certificates. I think of turning my other certificate into another “associates” and turning that into a degree. Idk. Education is never wasted.


  4. k3dbiDan Avatar

    I think it depends entirely on what the Associates Degree is in. One in Computer Science/Information Systems can open a lot of doors in that industry…


    1. Toad Avatar

      Unfortunately an Associates in Computer Science did not open any doors for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. TheBlackhairedGuy Avatar

        Computer anything should be a good field though. Maybe if you snag the Bachelor’s you can find something worthwhile?


  5. Gabriel Valles Avatar

    I have an Associate’s Degree in Mass Communication and Journalism. I really had no idea what I was aiming for with that. Now I’m 23 and completely lost in more ways than most.

    Liked by 1 person

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