While Atlanta, Georgia is often pictured as a quintessential destination in the southern U.S., it is also a hub for many international operations and businesses. This allows the traditional Southern culture to mix with influences from all over the world. And, with such a diverse population, the area provides a multitude of economic, educational, and career opportunities for those who choose to call the city home. Whether you are interested in finance, technology, healthcare, education, or any other field, options exist for almost every career imaginable within the Atlanta metro area. Here is a review of some of the key aspects that make Atlanta a city almost everyone should consider.
A city with a population as large as is present in the Atlanta metro area provides a vast array of opportunities to its residents. City operation, education, and healthcare needs drive the demand for skilled workers and operate as some of the area’s largest employers. A strong commercial business presence also functions alongside a thriving manufacturing and production industry. And this level of diversity means that people from all walks of life can easily find a place within the metro area.
When it comes to Fortune 500 companies headquartered within the city limits, Atlanta ranks fourth in the nation. Only New York City, Houston, and Dallas have larger concentrations within their boundaries.
Atlanta is also home to several Fortune 100 company headquarters including:
• The Coca-Cola Company
• Delta Airlines
• Home Depot
• United Parcel Service
Aside from the strong Fortune 500 presence, Atlanta also has strong ties to the financial services, technology, and telecommunications sector. Additionally, the area serves as an international business center, providing a broad range of opportunities for those interested in large-scale corporations and businesses that have worldwide operations.
With such a diverse economy, it’s no wonder that the educational opportunities in the city of Atlanta area are just as varied. Whether you are interested in finance, technology, science, or public administration, there are programs available to meet your needs. Here is just a sampling of the educational institutions available in the larger metro area.
Georgia State University
Georgia State University is a large-sized, public educational institution that offers over 250 degree programs across 100 disciplines. Offered programs include associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level degrees, as well as specialist programs. The undergraduate population totals over 25,000 students while graduate programs are attended by almost 7,000 individuals. Some of the unique offerings within the facility offerings include, but are not limited to, centers dedicated to:
• Advanced Biotechnology
• Confucius Institute
• Digital Aquarium
• Learning Disorders
• Military Science Leadership
• Viral Immunology
All of these offerings are available in a downtown city settings, close to local amenities and attractions.
Clark Atlanta University
A historically black, medium-sized private university, Clark Atlanta University focuses on bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs, though some certificate programs are also available. Based in Atlanta, the university was the first in the nation to offer graduate programs to African-American students. The educational focus is on 38 areas of study including, but not limited to:
• Africana Women’s Studies
• Fashion Design and Merchandising
• Industrial Chemistry
• Public Administration
• Romance Languages
The university also features a research center for science and technology as well as an exhibition gallery.
Georgia Institute of Technology
Home to over 15,000 undergraduates and just under 9,900 graduate students, the Georgia Institute of Technology has over 100 centers dedicated to interdisciplinary research that plays a critical role in innovation in the areas of business, government, and industry. The university is consistently ranked among the top ten public universities in the country, and awards more engineering degrees to female students than any other educational institution. Degrees are available in a range of technical, scientific, and other subjects including, but not limited to:
• Aerospace Engineering
• Biomedical Innovation and Development
• Civil Engineering
• Computing and Intelligence
• Energy Systems
• Human-Computer Interaction
Georgia Tech has facilities dedicated to carbon neutral lab, fluid mechanics research lab, nanotechnology cleanroom, and a nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy center.
A mid-sized, private, four-year school, Emory University provides opportunities at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree levels. Over 6,800 undergraduate students attend classes at the university, along with over 6,900 graduate students. Some of the unique features associated with the college include:
• Biological Field Station
• Primate Research Center
• Rare Book Library
Center programs also have access to the Center for Disease Control to assist in their studies. Over 70 undergraduate degree programs are available. Additionally, Emory University provides dozen of options for graduate students and those pursuing professional specialties.
Atlanta Metropolitan State College
Atlanta Metropolitan State College is a two-year, public junior college that predominately offers associate degree programs alongside a selection of bachelor’s degree options and a handful of certificate opportunities. Over 3,000 undergraduate students attend classes at the institution, including those focused on the following fields:
• Business Management
• Criminal Justice
• Health Information Management
• Information Technology
• Social Work
• Teacher Education
Associates degrees to help students begin their education in a variety of medically oriented fields as well as certain engineering options.
Georgia provides significant cost savings to businesses compared to some other states, making the location attractive to a range of industries, and Atlanta provides a strategic option to those with international operations. Additionally, the wide range of skilled employees helps support diverse needs across the area. As a demonstration of the range of businesses that operate in the area, here are some of the top industries in the larger metro area.
Products related to the aerospace industry are the largest exporting sector in the state of Georgia, totaling over $8 billion worldwide. The area supports some of the latest technological developments in the industry and provides access to a large number of skilled employees trained and educated specifically in industry operations and manufacturing. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics calls Atlanta home, helping to strengthen the area's reputation as a leader in the aerospace industry.
Research that supports military operations are an integral part of the Atlanta economy, as well as that of the state at large. Numerous defense contractors operate in the area, and local educational opportunities support developments in the fields of defense techniques and technologies.
The state of Georgia and Atlanta, in particular, has become a center for financial operations. The FinTech industry has also set down roots in the area. Over 118 billion financial transactions are processed in the state of Georgia, representing more than $2 trillion in purchase volume on an annual basis.
Health, Medical & Life Sciences
Biomedical research plays a large role in the Atlanta economy. The Centers for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) is headquartered in Atlanta, serving as a primary research center for the study of various bacterial and viral infections. In fact, some of the most dangerous diseases in the world have been studied within the walls of the CDC. Additionally, the large population supports numerous hospital systems including leading local employers, WellStar Health System and Grady Health System.
Logistics & Transportation
Atlanta functions as the primary transportation hub for the Southeastern United States, combining access to multiple highways and interstates, railroads, and airports. Delta Airlines centers their operations in the city, and Southwest Airlines is a major local employer. The high level of access also helps both the United Parcel Service and the United States Post Office meet delivery demands.
Atlanta falls into the region of Georgia commonly referred to as the Cyber Corridor. Over 115 IT-oriented companies operate in the area, including large firms like Dell, IBM, Verisign, and VMware Airwatch. Telecommunications companies also call the area home. This includes giants like AT&T, Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., and Verizon Wireless.
With a large populations, favorable business climate, and its function as an alpha city in the world, career opportunities exist in almost every sector and position. An examination of a selection of the Fortune 500 companies that operate in the area, as well as the leading employers, demonstrate the diversity experienced in the Atlanta metro region.
Considered the largest employer in Atlanta, and the largest airline in the world, Delta Airlines is one of the Fortune 100 companies that maintain their headquarters in the city. As with most corporate headquarters, positions are available in a range of disciplines including administrative and leadership positions, as well as professional positions in many business-related fields like accounting, marketing, and risk management. With the local Atlanta international airport functioning as a hub, Delta also employees aviation professionals. This includes commercial pilots, aviation mechanics, and administrative support personnel.
Local Government and Public Schools
DeKalb County and the City of Atlanta focus many government and educational operations within the city. Various school districts employ teachers and administrative personnel to maintain the required functions behind the public K-12 education system. Additionally, city and county government operations also focus in the area.
Those working in local government may find opportunities in a range of fields including, but not limited to administration, engineering, employment services, health services, information technology, legislation, and policy creation. Public safety operations, like police and fire departments, are also supported at the city and county level.
Healthcare and Medical Opportunities
Any city with a large population has a need for medical professionals at all levels. Everything from large hospital systems to small specialty practices can be found in the area, and every location hires numerous medical doctors, healthcare professionals, and administrative support staff. Combining the medical industry with the financial sector, many insurance companies also base their operations in the Atlanta metro region. For example, Aflac, Incorporated, a Fortune 500 company, is based in the city.
Various technology companies have opportunities in the city. Telecommunications companies like AT&T, Comcast Cable Communications, Inc., Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., and Cox Enterprises operate in the area. Residents can find positions related to the more “hands-on” side of technology, including installations and equipment maintenance, as well as office-based technical and administrative positions.
Global technology companies like the First Data Corporation and the NCR Corporation have operations in the area. Both companies focus on consumer transaction technologies and payment processing, combining the technology and financial industries, and provides opportunities for employees interested in both sectors.
The amount of payment processing services in the area is often overshadowed by the sheer volume of opportunities in the traditional financial sector. Bank of America, SunTrust Banks, Inc., and Wells Fargo are all considered major employers within the city. That means individuals interested in working in the financial sector while remaining in a city with a lower cost of living when compared to some other financial centers will find that Atlanta provides unique opportunities to help build your career.
Manufacturing, Production, and Distribution
Industrial companies make up a significant portion of the Atlanta economy. Production, manufacturing, and distribution positions are available with top companies like Genuine Parts Company, WestRock, HD Supply Holdings, Inc., Mohawk Industries, Inc., and AGCO Corporation. The Coca-Cola Company has their corporate headquarters in Atlanta, though production operations are predominately handled outside of the city limits.
Besides all of the educational and employment opportunities, Atlanta’s diversity is also represented in the local culture offerings throughout the city. Art museums and history centers coexist with bohemian shops and dining options focused on a range of international cuisines. For those interested in professional sports, the city offers baseball with the Atlanta Braves, football with the Atlanta Falcons, and basketball with the Atlanta Hawks and Atlanta Dream. With so many opportunities to get out into the sun, the city is sure to have something to offer to almost anyone who chooses to call the area home. And whether you intend only to stay in the area while attending school or if you want to put down roots in the city, educational and professional options abound for those interested in almost any profession or specialty.