With four year universities increasing in costs, many students are enrolling in community colleges to reduce their overall educational expenses.  Community colleges are smaller, less expensive and more accessible for students.  No longer is attending a community college a stigma that says you aren't smart enough to get into a four year university.  They are now a preferred choice for many students who plan to transfer to 4 year colleges, people making career changes or for students who don't need a B.A. degree for their chosen profession.

Below are 3 of the best jobs you can have with an Associate's degree.  With just two years of college, you will have skills and training to prepare you for a job right after graduation.

Dental Hygienist

The main function of a dental hygienist is to clean and examine teeth and the mouth for sores and signs of disease, such as, gingivtis .  They provide preventative dental care and chart the condition of teeth and hygiene for dentists to review and provide treatment if necessary.  They also educate clients on proper hygiene, take x-rays, apply sealants and flouride, develop x-rays, remove sutures and dressings, examine gums for signs of disease, and also provide health education services to different communities. 

In order to become a dental hygienist, an Associate's degree in dental hygiene is required.  This can be earned through an accredited and credentialed program.

The job outlook for this career is positive.  Many people are living longer, and the population continues to grow, so preventative dental care is becoming a priority.  A 38% growth is expected between 2010 and 2020.

Expect to earn over $68,000 in this career.

Registered Nurse

Registered nurses are the bedrock of many health service environments.  They handle duties ranging from serving food to assisting in surgeries.  Below is a list of the many duties that registered nurses perform:

1. Provide emotional support and advice to familes and individuals.

2. Maintain and record accurate patient records of their health, including changes in their medical conditions, reporting symptoms, recording vital signs and medications prescribed.

3. Provide health education services to families, communities and individuals.

4. Advise patients on disease prevention and ways to maintain health.

5. Care for the sick, injured or those hospitalized in long term care.

6. Can supervise nurses with lower skill levels, such as, licensed vocational nurses.

7. Prepare rooms for patients.

8. Sterilize instruments, equipment and supplies.

9. Assist physicians.

10. Provide first aid and immunizations.

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These are just a few of the many duties of a registered nurse.  The duties vary according to the type of nursing a person goes into, but this is a very involved and sometimes stressful career.

In order to become a registered nurse, an Associate's degree earned through a nursing program is needed from an accredited nursing program.

Expect to earn an annual salary over $64,000.

The job outlook for this career is good.  People are aging and living longer, and nurses will become an alternative source of care when physicians are not available. They have an expected growth of over 26% between 2010 and 2020.


They are the backbone of most attorneys, assisting them by preparing legal paperwork such as briefs, pleadings, wills, contracts and appeals.  In addition, they conduct research to obtain legal facts, investigate facts and help to formulate a defense or begin legal action.

An Associate's degree or a certificate in paralegal studies is needed. However, some companies may hire college graduates and give them on the job training.

The annual salary for this career is over $46,000 with a favorable job outlook.  They will be required to assume more duties previously done by attorneys.  There is an increased demand for the services and skills they provide.  Expect an 18% growth between 2010 and 2020 with increased competition.

So, if you are trying to decide whether or not to change your career, consider the above jobs.  The training for all three careers is extensive and focused, but you'll come out highly skilled and in demand.




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