2021 Best Community Colleges in Alabama

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August 31, 2021

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Alabama houses excellent community colleges and four-year colleges that help students launch their careers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual average salary for all jobs in Alabama was $46,840 in 2020. The highest-paid professionals in Alabama are obstetricians and gynecologists, surgeons, and anesthesiologists.

In this guide, readers can explore educational opportunities and employment outlook in Alabama. Readers can also find answers to frequently asked questions, such as the number of community colleges in Alabama, what jobs are in demand in Alabama, and the cost of community college in the state.

Why Study in Alabama?

Educational Opportunities

Alabama is home to 37 four-year colleges and universities and 25 community colleges. Students in Alabama who enroll in a two-year community college program often transfer their credits to a four-year university to earn a bachelor's degree. Many of the top colleges in Alabama offer accredited online programs for both in-state and out-of-state students.

About 60,660 students graduate annually in the state of Alabama each year, about 20% of whom earn associate degrees and about 54% of whom earn bachelor's degrees.

Economy

The University of Alabama's business school projects that the state's economy will grow by 5.5% in 2021. Alabama gained 89,200 jobs from June 2020 to June 2021. In that same time period, the unemployment rate dropped from 7.7% to 3.3%.

Cost of Living

Overall, the cost of living in Alabama is cheaper than the average cost of living in the United States. The median home cost in the state is $129,300 compared to the national median home cost of $231,200.

Alabama residents pay less on average for groceries, housing, and transportation than in other states. However, costs such as healthcare and utilities are more expensive in Alabama than the national average.

Cultural and Community Offerings

Alabama offers many art and music festivals throughout the year. Students can enjoy events like the Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham, the Gulf Coast Hot Air Balloon Festival in Foley, and the Annual National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores.

Students can also explore museums like the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum and the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts. Alabama features music festivals as well, especially for country music lovers. Students with access to a car or public transportation can easily access most community offerings.

Climate

Alabama has a humid, subtropical climate. The state typically experiences hot summers and mild winters, though parts of the state may see freezing temperatures during the winter. Alabama may experience tropical storms and hurricanes throughout the year due to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. Hurricane season generally lasts from June through November.

Alabama boasts one of the largest inland waterway systems in the nation. As a result, large parts of the state feature wetlands and swamps.

Top Degree Programs in Alabama

Best Online Associate in Medical Billing and Coding Programs

Best Online Pharmacy Technician Training Programs

Best Online Associate in Computer Science Programs

Alabama Employment Outlook

Alabama employs almost two million workers across all industries with an average annual salary of $46,840 in 2020. The state government found that Alabama's unemployment numbers were below the national average for 2021.

High-demand jobs in Alabama include administrative support, sales, transportation, and healthcare. The most lucrative careers in the state are also in the healthcare industry, with obstetricians and gynecologists earning an average annual salary of $269,920 in 2020.

Below are five in-demand jobs that students can attain with an associate degree in Alabama.

5 Alabama Jobs in Demand for 2021


Respiratory Therapists

  • Annual Median Salary: $62,810
  • Job Outlook: 19% growth from 2019-2029

Respiratory therapists work in hospitals and medical clinics. These professionals work directly with patients who have trouble breathing, including patients with asthma and chronic respiratory disease. Respiratory therapists determine patient needs and help doctors design treatment plans. Almost all states require licensure for this career.


Veterinary Technologists and Technicians

  • Annual Median Salary: $36,260
  • Job Outlook: 16% growth from 2019-2029

Veterinary technologists and technicians may work in animal hospitals, vet clinics, and research labs. Vet technologists and technicians help test and diagnose animal patients. These professionals often prepare and maintain testing equipment at the animal hospital as well. Depending on the state, these professionals may need certification or licensure.


Dental Hygienist

  • Annual Median Salary: $77,090
  • Job Outlook: 6% growth from 2019-2029

Dental hygienists mostly work in a dental office under the direction of a dentist. Hygienists work on patients, providing cleanings and health screenings for signs of oral disease. These professionals may also assist the dentist with more complicated dental procedures. Dental hygienists need licensure from their state of residence.


Insurance Sales Agents

  • Annual Median Salary: $52,180
  • Job Outlook: 5% growth from 2019-2029

Insurance sales agents sell different types of insurance through direct contact with customers. Insurance agents typically work in an office setting, though some agents may travel to meet customers. These professionals split their time making sales pitches and preparing presentations and paperwork. Insurance agents must receive licensure for their state of residence.


Nuclear Medicine Technologists

  • Annual Median Salary: $79,590
  • Job Outlook: 5% growth from 2019-2029

Nuclear medicine technologists may work in hospitals, diagnostics labs, imaging clinics, and physicians' offices. These professionals prepare and administer radioactive drugs for patient imaging and treatment. This career often requires certification or licensure, depending on the state of residence. Technologists need an associate degree from an accredited nuclear medicine program.


Popular Career Paths in Alabama

2021 Best Accredited Community Colleges in Alabama

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Northeast Alabama Community College View School Profile Rainsville, AL

One of the best community colleges in Alabama, Northeast Alabama Community College is committed to providing an accessible education that promotes a higher standard of living for Alabama residents. One of only 29 U.S. colleges that has been named a top community college by the Aspen Institute more than five times, the school has ranked first in student retention among Alabama community colleges two years in a row.

NACC offers seven associate in art (AA) degrees, 25 associate in applied science (AAS) degrees, and about 100 associate in science (AS) degrees, including several education and engineering degrees. The college also offers several certificate and short-term certificate programs.

Students who plan to transfer to a four-year college or university after graduating from NACC should earn an AA or AS degree. Students who want to enter the workforce after graduating should opt for an AAS degree.

George C Wallace Community College-Dothan View School Profile Dothan, AL

Based in Dothan, Wallace Community College is among the best accredited community colleges in Alabama. WCC offers 20 academic programs, 18 health programs, and 14 career/technical programs.

Learners should expect to spend 9-15 hours per week on each class, whether studying online or on campus. WCC delivers most online coursework asynchronously.

WCC offers career services, including apprenticeships and local job listings. The college provides Career Coach, an online tool that helps learners decide what they should study. WCC also operates a career closet where students can select up to three items of gently used professional clothing each semester.

George C Wallace State Community College-Selma View School Profile Selma, AL

As one of the top community colleges in Alabama, Wallace Community College Selma is committed to providing access to quality teaching, learning, and educational support services.

WCCS offers an associate program that prepares students to transfer to a four-year university and pursue a bachelor's degree in education, social sciences, foreign language, law, humanities, or fine arts. The college also offers associate degrees in business administration, computer information systems, and criminal justice.

WCCS's technical divisions include cosmetology, drafting and design technology, electrical technology, industrial maintenance technology, masonry, and welding. WCCS also offers a commercial truck driver licensing program.

George C Wallace State Community College-Hanceville View School Profile Hanceville, AL

Wallace State Community College offers 10 liberal arts and general studies programs, five fine and performing arts programs, 18 health science programs, 14 applied technology programs, and seven STEM programs. Notable offerings include forensic psychology, diagnostic medical sonography, aviation/flight technology, and salon and spa management.

Wallace State's Center for Career and Workforce Development offers apprenticeships, workforce training, and other services to help students prepare for new careers. The college also offers adult education classes and dual enrollment for high school students who want to get a head start on college.

Snead State Community College View School Profile Boaz, AL

Snead State Community College maintains one of the largest distance education programs in Alabama, which allows the college to reach students outside of its service area of Blount, DeKalb, Etowah, and Marshall Counties.

The Aviation College at Snead State offers two AAS degrees in aircraft frames and aircraft engine maintenance. The Business Division offers two AAS degrees and six AS degrees. Snead State also offers degrees in fine arts, health sciences, and humanities and language arts. The school also offers programs in math, natural sciences, social sciences, and technology and computer science.

Snead State delivers most online coursework asynchronously, and most programs do not include on-campus requirements.

Central Alabama Community College View School Profile Alexander City, AL

Central Alabama Community College provides a variety of programs with flexible scheduling and small class sizes.

CACC offers eight AAS degrees, three associate in occupational technology degrees, and over 30 AS degrees. AAS programs include industrial electronics technology, medical assisting technology, and automotive manufacturing technology.

CACC's AS programs target students who plan to transfer to a four-year college or university. These offerings include business administration, engineering, pre-nursing, and psychology

The college's associate in occupational technology degree prepares students for a specific career. Students can choose from cosmetology, machine shop, and welding.

John C Calhoun State Community College View School Profile Tanner, AL

Calhoun Community College is the largest two-year college in the Alabama Community College System. Calhoun is a comprehensive, open admission college.

Calhoun Community College offers more than 100 certificate and associate programs in business and computer information services, general studies, health studies, humanities and social sciences, mathematics and natural sciences, and technologies.

With an AS degree from Calhoun Community College, students can transfer to a four-year college through the Statewide Transfer and Articulation Reporting Systems.

Lurleen B Wallace Community College View School Profile Andalusia, AL

Lurleen B. Wallace Community College is an open admission community college that operates campuses in Andalusia, Greenville, Luverne, and Opp.

LBWCC consists of several academic divisions, including business, information technology, and social science; mathematics and science; language, humanities, and fine arts; nursing; and allied health. The Applied Technologies Division offers courses in automotive mechanics, cosmetology, computer science, and office administration.

The college's AA and AS degrees require a general education core that consists of written composition, humanities, fine arts, speech, natural science, and mathematics. Pre-major, pre-professional, and elective courses make up 19-23 credits of the degree.

Southern Union State Community College View School Profile Wadley, AL

Southern Union State Community College offers academic, health science, and technical programs that are responsive to student and community needs.

SUSCC offers eight AS and AAS degrees, including business management and entrepreneurship, child development, criminal justice, general studies, and information systems. The Health Sciences Division offers 14 programs, including paramedic, nursing, radiologic technology, surgical technology, and therapeutic massage.

The Technical Education and Workforce Development Division offers nine programs, including air conditioning and refrigeration, automotive service technology, cosmetology, and engineering and design.

SUSCC's Saturday College provides a way for students who work full time to attend college without quitting their jobs. The Saturday College offers business, communication, early childhood/elementary education, general studies, psychology, and social work programs. It takes seven semesters to earn an associate degree through the Saturday College.

Shelton State Community College View School Profile Tuscaloosa, AL

Shelton State Community College is among the largest community colleges in Alabama. SSCC is located in Tuscaloosa and serves around 7,000 students, including part-time students.

SSCC offers about 45 different programs that lead to an AA or AS degree in the behavioral sciences; business and computer science; fine arts; and health, wellness, food, and nutrition. Students who plan to transfer to a four-year college in Alabama should obtain a transfer guide from the Statewide Transfer and Articulation Reporting System.

SSCC also offers associate degrees in nursing, health information technology, nursing assistant/home health aide, medical laboratory technician program, practical nursing, and respiratory therapy. The college offers technical programs as well.

Frequently Asked Questions About Community Colleges in Alabama

How many community colleges are there in Alabama?

Alabama houses 25 community colleges. Some of the best community colleges in Alabama include Northeast Alabama Community College, Lurleen B. Wallace Community College, Coastal Alabama Community College, and Wallace Community College. Community colleges typically offer two-year degree programs and certificate programs in both in-person and online formats.

How much is community college in Alabama?

The average cost of in-state community college tuition in Alabama is $4,540. The average cost for out-of-state residents is $9,410. The average cost of living on campus for community colleges reached $13,070. The cost of in-state and out-of-state tuition for community colleges in Alabama was higher than the national average.

Does Alabama offer free community college?

No, Alabama does not offer free community college. In 2015, Alabama created a program that offered free community college tuition for certain Alabama residents. The program lasted seven years. The state of Alabama did not release any plans to renew the program after it concluded. Students should seek financial aid to help pay tuition costs.

How do I pay for college in Alabama?

Students should seek financial aid for tuition costs in Alabama. Many sources, including community college financial aid departments, the federal government, the state government, and independent organizations, can offer student loans, scholarships, and grants. Students should look for scholarships and grants, as these types of aid do not need to be repaid.

We've ranked the best online community colleges & trade Schools for programs, financial aid, and more. Compare and search for the school that matches your goals. Find information on the most affordable online community colleges. Learn more about what these schools offer and how students can save money on their education. Many community college students plan to transfer to a four-year college, but few succeed. Closing the transfer gap is critical to closing opportunity gaps. Many believe community college is less academically rigorous, but attending a two-year institution can benefit you both intellectually and financially.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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