"We have a lot of bartenders and taxi drivers with bachelor's degrees," says Christopher Denhart, one of the report's coauthors.
Still, the salary advantage for associate's degree holders narrows over time, as bachelor's degree recipients eventually catch up, says Schneider.
Although these figures vary widely by profession, associate's degree recipients, on average, end up making about $500,000 more over their careers than people with only high school diplomas, but $500,000 less than people with bachelor's degrees, the Georgetown center calculates.
As for Omer, he's already working toward a bachelor's degree.
"Down the road a little further, I may want to become a director or a manager," he says. "A bachelor's degree will get me to that point."
This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet based at Teachers College, Columbia University. It's one of a series of reports about workforce development and higher education.