Associate program volume was up 20.3% year over year (YOY) in 2018, the highest of any degree level, according to the 2018 Year-End Higher Education Inquiry Generation Review , published by Digital Media Solutions (DMS). The associate degree level share of volume (SOV) ebbed and flowed throughout the 2016-2018 period, but it maintained an upward trajectory, beginning at 12.9% in Q1 2016 and landing at 17.3% in Q3 2018. The conversion rate (CVR) for associate programs peaked in Q1 2017 at 10.0%, then dipped significantly afterwards. CVR bounced back significantly in Q3 2018 at 8.8%, up from 7.4% the prior quarter and 7.3% YOY.
In this article, we dive into the top three associate programs and examine conversion data plus employment trends, as labor market shifts can heavily impact student recruitment.
#1 Associate Program in 2018
Medical Insurance Coding Specialist/Coder
The associate-level medical insurance coding specialist/coder program had a 4.3% SOV in 2018 and a 6.4% CVR for the first three quarters of 2018. Volume for the top associate medical insurance coding program was up 11.1% YOY in 2018, while CVR was down 2.4% in Q3 2018 YOY. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected employment of medical records and health information technicians to grow 13% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average growth rate of 7% for all occupations. The median annual wage for medical records and health information technicians was $39,180 in 2017, slightly above the average of $37,690 for all occupations as of May 2017. Based on these employment projections, we anticipate medical insurance coding programs will maintain its high standing for quarters to come.
#2 Associate Program in 2018
Medical Office Assistant/Specialist
The associate-level medical office assistant/specialist program had a 3.7% SOV in 2018 and a 6.6% CVR for the first three quarters of 2018. CVR and lead volume both increased for the associate-level medical office assistant program in 2018. Volume was up 22.7% YOY in 2018, and CVR was up 5.5% YOY in Q3 2018. The BLS projected employment of secretaries and administrative assistants, many of which are employed in medical offices, to decline by 5% from 2016 to 2026. The median annual wage for secretaries and administrative assistants was $37,870 in 2017, roughly the same as the average for all occupations as of May 2017. Based on the projected decline in employment, we anticipate we may begin to see a decrease in program interest.
#3 Associate Program in 2018
Human Services, General
The associate-level human services program had a 2.5% SOV in 2018 and 6.7% CVR for the first three quarters of 2018. The BLS projected employment of social and human service assistants to grow 16% from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average. The median annual wage for social and human service assistants was $33,120 in 2017, slightly below the average for all occupations as of May 2017. Based on the significant projected employment growth, we expect continued growth for human services programs.
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Featuring trends on inquiry volume, conversion rates, media channel performance and more, the 2018 Year-End Higher Education Inquiry Generation Review covers trends in the inquiry generation and student acquisition activities of higher education institutions for the period of January 2016-December 2018.