Student loan debt in the United States has been a growing issue for years. Today’s total student debt soars over $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 does this offer a viable path to a fulfilling career, but they also alleviate the financial burden commonly associated with higher education.
Apprenticeships blend hands-on experience with a theoretical foundation. Unlike traditional higher education that may 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 attention 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 focus on theoretical knowledge, which is undoubtedly important but lacks the real-world application that employers covet. Apprenticeships bridge this gap by making you 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, consequently, 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 over, the average apprentice may earn the following salaries upon joining the workforce:
Academic institutions are increasingly incorporating apprenticeships in their degree programs, especially 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, reducing 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 pick a major based on your interests. Then, you explore job opportunities aligned with that major. However, pursuing an apprenticeship requires you to think in reverse.
Begin by identifying 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 align 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 the student loan trap while building a fulfilling career? Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing offers a standout apprenticeship program called Service Experts Career Academy (SECA). SECA offers modern HVAC training and on-the-job learning facilitated by experienced 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 starts with making informed choices. If you’re ready to take control of your future with help from Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing, please contact us to learn more about Service Experts Career Academy. Call us at 866-397-3787 today to learn more!
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