With student loan debt above $1.4 trillion in the United States, earning a four-year degree can be a financial challenge for families. But, in the midst of hardship, community and technical colleges have seized an opportunity.

As workforce demand increases for employees in fields like cyber-security and programming, many employers are seeking applicants with specific skill sets that can be taught in technical programs and do not require bachelor's degrees.

Researchers at Right-Click analyzed data from the USDA Economic Research Service and the National Center for Education Statistics. They then ranked more than 3,200 counties in the U.S. based on how well they were preparing residents for the workforce without having to earn bachelor's degrees from four-year colleges or universities.

Among the best-prepared counties was Coryell County in Texas. The researchers found 43.1 percent of adults in Coryell County complete an associate's degree, or some college -- better positioning them for jobs in 2017.

The study also highlighted Central Texas College in Killeen and Texas State Technical College in Waco, as education organizations that offer "impressive technology degrees" with a strong return on investment.