Tag Archives: Degrees

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?

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