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8 In-Demand Associate Degrees

Anthony Balderrama, CareerBuilder writer

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When students are planning their education, they often fall into the mindset that they either don't go to college or they get a bachelor's (or higher) degree. Associate degrees and certifications get lost in the shuffle, but they're worthwhile paths to many reliable, thriving jobs.

Associate degrees often get a bad rap from people who don't understand why you'd want to earn a two-year degree when it seems like bachelor's degrees are the way to go. But think about the benefits of earning an associate degree:

· It's cheaper than earning a bachelor's.

· You can earn an associate degree and start working while you're still in school for your bachelor's.

· You're trained to start working upon graduation at a higher salary than someone with a high school diploma.

· Many professions require associate degrees and relevant training, so other academic paths won't help you get the job.

As with other educational, training and certification endeavors, associate degrees are available for a variety of fields.

On this list, among the most sought after are in health care, but you can find programs in law and veterinary fields as well.

Here are eight occupations where an associate degree pays off:

1. Cardiovascular technologists and technicians
What they do: They work with doctors to diagnose various cardiac problems in patients using sonograms and other procedures. They also help treat patients and analyze test results to assess progress or discover other problems.
How to find accredited training programs: Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs

2. Dental laboratory technicians
What they do: They create the various dental prosthetics (i.e., dentures and crowns) that dentists order for patients and ensure that the prosthetics will fit properly and function as necessary.
How to find accredited training programs: American Dental Association

3. Diagnostic medical sonographers
What they do: They use sonography (a process most people associate with pregnancy ultrasounds) to check for suspected medical conditions or to treat them.
How to find accredited training programs: Commission on Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs

4. Forensic science technicians
What they do: Forensic science technicians gather and analyze items from a crime scene. Their evidence and reports help investigators understand what happened and who was involved.
How to find accredited training programs: American Academy of Forensic Sciences

5. Occupational therapist assistants
What they do: They ensure patients are following the orders of the occupational therapists and assist them with their exercises. Assistants record the patients' progress so that the occupational therapists can see if the exercises are working or need to be adjusted.
How to find accredited training programs: American Occupational Therapy Association

6. Paralegals and legal assistants
What they do: Paralegals and legal assistants assist lawyers in a variety of ways, from preparing for closing arguments to performing research. They're not allowed to perform certain tasks reserved for lawyers, but they are involved in many aspects of legal proceedings.
How to find accredited training programs: American Association for Paralegal Education

7. Physical therapist assistants
What they do: Assistants help physical therapists with patients who are dealing with an injury or physical ailment. They assist patients with their exercises or prepare equipment for the physical therapist.
How to find accredited training programs: American Physical Therapy Association

8. Veterinary technologists and technicians
What they do: Veterinary technologists and technicians are supervised by veterinarians and perform routine medical exams and tests on animals.
How to find accredited training programs: American Veterinary Medical Association

Anthony Balderrama is a writer and blogger for CareerBuilder.com and its job blog, The Work Buzz. He researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/abalderrama.



Last Updated: 23/06/2009 - 11:15 PM


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