For many professions – especially those with the highest status and pay – a college degree is just a good start. That four-year investment – with total costs sometimes running into six figures – must often be followed by graduate degrees in science, technology or medicine.
The pay-off is good, but for many Georgians the price is too high. For many of modest means, even a full-tuition scholarship may not be not sufficient.
But a more manageable – and more affordable – education can be enough to open some doors.
A recent study by a policy research firm lists six occupations in the state that do not require many years of schooling and training and that annually add more than 1,000 jobs each.
The company made a list of Georgia jobs that require no more than associates degrees or on-the-job training. Most plentiful are jobs as a registered nurse: more than 2,300 openings a year, according to Mathematica Policy Research, a four-decade-old social policy research firm based on Princeton, New Jersey.
Even better, hiring has been surging roughly 16 percent a year for nurses, Mathematica found.
And even better than that, the most recent data shows median pay for registered nurses in the state at $62,520 a year – the third-highest pay available among the list of accessible jobs. That is also well above the state’s average salary of $45,420.
The highest pay is for computer network support specialists, who generally require at least an associates degree and are paid a median $66,800, according to Mathematica. There are about 150 openings year for that skill.
Second highest pay for a modest educational investment is for dental hygienists – a median of $64,050 – but that field is adding only about 370 positions a year.
Not all possible jobs were included, researchers wrote.
“First, we determined which occupations required more than a high school diploma or general educational development certificate, but less than a bachelor’s degree. Next, among those occupations, we focused on those projected to experience positive job growth through 2022.
“Finally, we limited our list to occupations expected to have at least one job per 1,000 jobs statewide, to make sure there would be enough jobs available relative to the size of the state’s labor market.”
For modest education and training, the top 10 jobs by annual openings:
Registered nurses, 2,300, median pay of $62,520.
Teachers’ assistants, 1,560, median pay of 18,950.
Truck drivers, 1,540, median pay $39,270
Nursing assistants, 1,460, median pay of $21,670.
Medical assistants, 1,210, median pay of $28,410.
Licensed practical and vocational nurses, 1,140, median pay of $37,620.
Computer user support specialists, 870, median pay of $47,190.
Pre-school teachers (except special ed), 670, median pay of $28,920.
Emergency medical technicians, 550, median pay of $29,540.
Hair stylists and cosmetologists, 470, median pay of $23,080.