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Many certificate and associate degree programs can be a path to the middle class, according to a new analysis from the American Enterprise Institute.

The report uses state data from College Measures, which has partnered with eight states to track the earnings of graduates. The researchers found that students' choice of major has a big impact on earnings, regardless of the level of credential. Skills-oriented programs in health, engineering and other technical fields in particular tend to fare well with labor market returns.

For example, graduates of public institutions in Florida who earned an associate degree in electrical, electronic and communications engineering have a median annual wage of almost $92,000, according to the analysis.

"In Florida, six of the 16 programs with the highest-paid graduates are from associate degree and apprenticeship programs offered by community colleges or technical training centers," the report said.