Associates Degrees in Specialized Technology with Course Info

Oct 20, 2021

Essential Information

An associate's degree program in specialized technology (AST) features a content-focused curriculum dealing with a particular occupation. The following associate's degree programs in specialized technology are geared toward career paths such as pharmacy technician, visual communications, pastry chef and medical assistant. Most associate's degrees in specialized technology can be completed in two years or less. Depending on the program, students may combine lectures and hands-on training through an internship.

Associate's Degree in Specialized Technology - Medical Assistant Technician

The AST degree program for medical assistant technicians is designed to provide individuals with the skills needed to assist healthcare providers with administrative, clerical and clinical duties. Degree candidates learn about basic medical procedures, insurance practices, patient communication and ethics and laboratory tests and procedures. Most AST degree programs include an internship in which degree candidates work under direct supervision at a healthcare facility. After successful completion of the coursework and internship, graduates are eligible to seek entry-level employment as medical assistant technicians.

Nearly all medical assistant technician degree programs require applicants to submit high school transcripts or their equivalent. Some programs also require standardized test scores. Non-native English speakers may be required to submit TOEFL scores.

The curriculum of an AST medical assistant technician degree program focuses on the skills and knowledge needed in the healthcare industry. Sample core curriculum course titles are included below.

  • Insurance form coding
  • Patient interaction
  • Kinesiology
  • Introduction to anatomy and physiology
  • Medical accounting

Associate's Degree in Specialized Technology - Visual Communications

The field of visual communications involves graphic design, Web design, advertising and communications studies. Individuals enrolled in an AST degree program in visual communications study the latest software used for animation and multimedia presentations. In addition, degree candidates learn the critical thinking and creative skills necessary for an entry-level position in the publishing, advertising or Web design industries.

Individuals applying to a visual communications AST degree program are required to submit high school transcripts or proof of GED equivalency. Other prerequisites vary between institutions. Some programs require submission of a portfolio to indicate creative ability or graphic design competency.

The coursework for a visual communications AST degree program is topically focused with few elective requirements. Sample core curriculum course titles may include:

  • Animation software
  • Computer imaging in 2D and 3D
  • Typography
  • Graphic design for advertising
  • Website design

Associate's Degree in Specialized Technology - Pastry Chef

An AST degree program in the baking and pastry arts is designed to provide individuals with the practical skills and theoretical knowledge needed for pastry positions in restaurants, cafeterias, bakeries and retail markets. Degree candidates study the fundamentals of baking and pastry science and learn to make cakes, pies, tarts and other desserts.

Individuals applying to a pastry chef associate's degree in specialized technology program are generally required to submit high school transcripts or proof of GED. Other requirements vary between institutions.

The curriculum of an AST pastry chef degree program is designed to emphasize hands-on training. In addition to the practical training, some theoretical coursework is also required. Sample core course titles are included below.

  • Plated desserts
  • European pastries
  • Cake and pie decoration
  • Artisan desserts
  • Working with chocolate

Popular Career Options

Successful completion of a visual communications AST degree program qualifies graduates for entry-level positions in the graphic design and communications fields. Examples of possible career paths are included below.

  • Website designer
  • Graphic artist
  • Animation technician
  • Multimedia illustrator

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for medical assistants is expected to grow by 19% between 2019-2029 ( The median salary for medical assistants was $35,850 as of May 2020. California and Texas are the two states that offer the most employment opportunities.

Salary information for pastry chefs varies widely based on a number of factors. Restaurant size, geographical location and level of experience are some of the factors that control food service salaries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for chefs and head cooks was $53,380 as of May 2020 ( Hawaii and New Jersey offer the highest wages for chefs and cooks.

Continuing Education Information

Individuals who want to continue their studies can enroll in a bachelor's program in visual communications. Many associate's degree programs are designed so that degree holders can enter a bachelor's degree program as a third-year student. Candidates should check the transfer credit policies of their desired institutions.

For students who want to continue their studies, there are a host of degree programs that focus on the healthcare industry. Students can choose from fields of study such as medical technology or medical informatics.

Students who wish to make the AST their terminal degree may want to consider sitting for the Certified Medical Assistant exam (CMA), offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). This voluntary certification may increase employment or promotion opportunities.

There are several program options for those in an associate's degree in specialized technology program, which include medical assistant technician, visual communications, and pastry chef. These programs focus on a content area that can prepare students for a certain occupation through classroom instruction and hands-on experiences.

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