Hello, and welcome to the forum. More education is pretty much always better, but it certainly isn't necessary to have a BA to get a job using SW. I don't even have an Associates (I went to a junior college for a while, but finally quit when I couldn't decide what I wanted to do) and I'm using it full time. I started here on the construction crew and had a chance to move inside and learn SW, so I took it (being outside in the heat and cold isn't as much fun as it was when I was younger). The hands on experience was a big help, and it's still very valuable for a nuber of reasons. With that being said, if I could go back 30 years and know what I know now I would stay in school and try for an engineering degree.
I'm the only full-time SW user here, and my situation isn't typical, so I really can't say what the chances of getting a job with the associates degree would be. Hopefully someone else will comment on that, although I'm sure that if you can get some practical experience to go along with the formal education it can only help. You may already have that; I don't know.
I am currently in the last year of my BA Engineering. I have had internships and worked at a variety of companies using 3D programs.
I can say that you do not need a BA to work with Solidworks. A lot of people had a cursus or taught themselves.
The work you get to do in Solidworks however may differ depending on what you know.
People without a BA tend to end up making fully specified models, making drafts and preparing production(calculating/ordering material needs, making documents relevant to production, etc.)
Whereas people with a BA end up more on the engineering side of things, creating a model from client specifications according to relevant standards, this goes along with a lot of calculating, designing so things work together. They have a lot more responsibility and tend to spend less time modeling in Solidworks and more time figuring out how to work things out.
(Their projects tend to be the more valueable orders and have a larger timeframe, they also might be the ones who specify the models someone without a BA degree might have to make.)
This is how I have experienced (what little I have) how things tend to work out at companies. It isn't always true though, a person's skill and motivation are important factors as well. So I won't say this is the way it is, however, it is how things tend to end up.
I would suggest that you look into the kind of work you want to do in Solidworks and what kind of people are in those positions. As well as what kind of knowledge is expected from someone in that position and based on that make your decision.
I hope I was of any help for you,
If you want to do CAD design, a BS degree can actually overqualify you (can ever really be overqualified to design?). I see more CAD positions available for associates degrees (or less!) than for BS degrees.
That said, you want to get great at CAD, and even better at all the other things.
Getting in the door as a CAD designer can lead to a lot of things. You can continue your education (often at employer expense). You will learn on the job. You will see more of what the engineering world has to offer for career opportunities.
Welcome to the forum.
I have been in the mechanical engineering field for 35 years. I have been using Solidworks for 12+ years. While using the software in the field I finished up my AASME degree. I also gained CSWP status as well. This alone might mean more then having a BS degree when it comes to Mechanical Design. What I have seen, is a BS degree will get you to the higher level of engineering like analyzing and testing of materials and properties amongst other things. Usually means less CAD.
Learn the software to the best of your ability using all of the tools available (tutorials, youtube, books etc.) and try to get the CSWP certification. I would also say even though you prefer to use Solidworks, do not turn your back on other 3D softwares. I say this because I am unemployed and in my job search I am finding it easier to get looks knowing not only Solidworks, but Autodesk Inventor as well. It is good to be versed in a few different areas. Makes you more marketable!!!
Best of luck to you!!!
I see SW as a collection of virtual trade tools.
If you don't understand the trade and its tools, then who will pay you to use a virtual tool?
Pick up a trade first. Be it Tool and Die, Jig and Fixture, Mold, Architecture or whatever. No on is going to pay you just because you know a certain cad program. You will get paid if you can bring good product to the table.If you stick with the design field, you will run many CAD programs thoughout your career and probably many CAM programs as well. I can assure you that anyone who takes the initiative to go to college or a technical school, can pick up on any CAD program with the basic 4 days of introductory training the CAD companys offer. We could sure use some more Tool and Die and Mold designers out here. They are getting pretty hard to find in this country.
Good advice. You might want to take a little time to see what markets are like too. Here in the Detroit area we are starting to recover now and I'm seeing a lot more jobs for Tool and Die, Jig and Fixture, Mechanical, etc. (basically anything auto related - go figure) but very little for Architecture. Every area will of course be different.