Student loan debt in the United States has been a growing problem for years. Today’s total student debt is more than $1.7 trillion, with the average college graduate owing $20,000 to $25,000. If you’re contemplating your educational journey or advising someone who is, it’s important to weigh the alternatives to traditional college that could significantly lower your financial burden.
One of the most desirable non-traditional career paths is registering in an apprenticeship program. Not only do these programs offer a viable path to a rewarding career, but they also alleviate the financial burden commonly associated with higher education.
Apprenticeships combine hands-on experience with a theoretical foundation. Unlike traditional higher education that could leave you buried in student loan debt, apprenticeships allow you to “earn while you learn.” These programs have been underutilized in the past but are gaining renewed focus from employers and academic institutions as they recognize the value of practical experience in career development.
Apprenticeship programs aren’t just about debt avoidance; they’re also about employability and skill mastery. Traditional degree programs often concentrate on theoretical knowledge, which is undoubtedly important but lacks the real-world application that employers desire. Apprenticeships bridge this gap by helping you get job-ready and equipping you with the tools needed to excel in your chosen field right from the get-go.
Understanding the types of apprenticeships available can help you make a more informed decision. Here’s a breakdown of the two main options.
These programs prepare you for fields where a college degree is often unnecessary. While society’s focus on higher education has led to a decline in these kinds of apprenticeships, the lack of skilled tradespeople has created a surge in demand and, as a result, higher salaries.
The Department of Labor estimates that apprentices in trade fields earn around $15 per hour during training, or $31,200 per year if training full time. Once the program is done, the average apprentice could earn the following salaries upon joining the workforce:
Academic institutions are increasingly incorporating apprenticeships in their degree programs, in particular for fields like engineering, health care and information technology (IT). The benefits are two-fold: students get real-world experience while fulfilling academic requirements, and they earn a wage, decreasing the need for loans.
A few good resources are at your disposal to help you get an apprenticeship. Here’s where to look:
When you go the traditional academic route, you select a major based on your interests. Then, you explore job opportunities aligned with that major. But, choosing an apprenticeship requires you to think in reverse.
Begin by choosing the majors and career paths that incorporate or require apprenticeships. Then, pick one of the available apprenticeships from your narrowed-down list that sparks your interest, meets your skill set or offers the most lucrative income, depending on your priorities. This approach helps you match your educational pathway with real-world opportunities, ensuring a smoother transition into the job market and a satisfying career for years to come.
Are you looking to avoid racking up student loan debt while building a fulfilling career? Calverley Service Experts offers a top-of-the-line apprenticeship program called Service Experts Career Academy (SECA). SECA offers modern HVAC training and on-the-job learning facilitated by knowledgeable industry professionals. The curriculum is designed to equip you with vital skills and make you a master in your field—all while averting your own student debt crisis.
The path to a fulfilling, debt-free career should begin with making informed choices. If you’re ready to take control of your future with help from Calverley Service Experts, please contact us to learn more about Service Experts Career Academy. Reach out at 817-380-5647 today to learn more!
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