Looking for a new career in Georgia? While you might assume you need a four-year degree to compete for in-demand jobs with good pay, that's not necessarily true. There are a number of professions that fit these criteria and require only an associate degree or, in some cases, only a high school diploma or the equivalent.
They range from health care professions to the auto repair field, and when an associate degree is required, you can get the education you need in Atlanta in many cases.
The following are seven of the fastest-growing jobs in Georgia that don't require a four-year degree, according to the Georgia Department of Labor:
What you'll do: care for patients – ranging from infants to older adults – who have trouble breathing
Education required: associate degree
Annual wage: $54,300, according to the 2016 edition of the Georgia Wage Survey
Annual openings: 160
Job growth: expected to grow nationally by 23 percent (much faster than the average occupation), according to the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Statistics.
What else you need to know: Many respiratory therapists work in hospitals, so you may work at any time of day. Gwinnett Technical College offers a respiratory therapist degree.
Supervisors of office and administrative support workers
What you'll do: directly supervise and coordinate workers' activities at sites such as doctors' offices, stores, manufacturing facilities and more
Education required: high school diploma or equivalent
Annual wage: $56,800
Annual openings: 1,160
What else you need to know: The Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell area was ranked seventh nationally among metropolitan areas with the highest employment level in this occupation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Sales representatives – wholesale and manufacturing, technical and scientific products
What you'll do: sell products related to such areas as electronics, engineering and biology
Education required: high school diploma or equivalent, or possibly an associate degree
Annual wage: $64,400
Annual openings: 1,730
What else you need to know: Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell was ranked sixth nationally among metropolitan areas with the highest employment levels in this occupation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What you'll do: clean teeth, examine patients for oral disease, provide and explain other preventative dental care
Education required: associate degree
Annual wage: $63,800
Annual openings: 200
What else you need to know: This profession is expected to grow by 20 percent by 2026, which is much faster than average. Atlanta Technical College and Georgia State University Perimeter College offer two-year dental hygiene degrees.
Computer user support specialist
What you'll do: provide help and advice to computer users and organizations
Education required: Some college, no degree
Annual wage: $52,700
Annual openings: 570
What else you need to know: Job prospects should be good in the Atlanta area, since it ranks second among metro areas with the highest employment in this profession.
Automotive body and related repairer
What you'll do: repair and refinish auto vehicle bodies and frames
Education required: High school diploma or equivalent
Annual wage: $47,900
Annual openings: 150
What else you need to know: Job prospects could be particularly good in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metro area, since it's ranked fourth among metro areas for employment in this occupation.
Paralegal and legal assistant
What you'll do: support lawyers by performing tasks such as conducting legal research, drafting documents and maintaining files
Education required: associate degree or completion of a certificate program
Annual wage: $54,600
Annual openings: 280
What else you need to know: The job outlook for this profession is expected to grow 15 percent by 2026, which is much faster than average. You can earn your associate's degree in paralegal studies at Atlanta Technical College.
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