While, I will say that I know some, not many, who have only pursued an Associate's Degree working as programmers, they all got in to the business at the end of the 90s to the early 00s. Most of them landed jobs in big corps looking for people as that was a time of expanse. Today, that has changed a lot and I don't know what the job market is like where you are. Then there was little saturation, while today there is a lot and it it is quite possible that the market is sufficiently saturated with people with 4-year degrees that in your area, a 4-year degree is necessary. But that does not mean that that is the case for everywhere, nor, is it always true.
What that translates to is that an Associate's Degree is only worthless if somebody else has a degree that trumps it.
I can't speak for your situation, but knoing the ciriculum I feel that there are only four classes that are essential if you pursue an Associates Degree.
- Data Structures
- Software Design & Architecture
- Theory of computation
One thing that taking the courses, getting the degree, and proving that you are compitent is all about is, dedication.
Companies want to know that you have what it takes, and quite frankly, unless you are a whizz and impress somebody in the company, somebody in HR won't really care.
But if you go the route of Associate's you should learn everything that you can on your own. VMWare, is easy to learn, but most companies will be looking for people comfortable with the tech. And if you don't make the effort to learn it, you won't get exposed to it with the above courses.
If you make the effort to expand your knowledge, you can learn just about everything else on your own and usually do with or without a degree, however the aformentioned courses would be the most important in school.
With that being said, have some personal projects and you may be on par or a little ahead of the average Compute Science undergrad in the job market, however it will probably affect your negotiation or consideration for some jobs with inflexible requirements.
Still, I wouldn't worry too much about it since there are a lot of jobs out there, and employers are well known for asking for the moon when it comes to entry level jobs.
Just make sure that you have a good understanding of what the job market is like in your area. Then be well aware what is needed in your area to get your foot in the door and make sure that you hit the right beats, otherwise you will be the odd one out that HR skips over becuase you don't fit their criteria. And beleive me, you need to hit the right notes with them.
As an example, of this I've seen them do things like skip an applicant with a Phd in hardware engineering becuase it was a computer science post and they didn't have a computer science degree. I wished him the best.
Getting your foot in the door is the hard part, but once you are in, if you have the fundamentals down and are a good fit, you shouldn't have a problem.