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Certain careers – like those in the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC industries – have highly specific educational requirements that just aren’t met with a traditional four-year college degree. These are high-paying jobs that are more suited for an alternative approach.

Apprenticeship programs have been a proven way for people to train and become plumbers, electricians, or HVAC technicians. It’s an employer-driven, “earn-while-you-learn” model combining on-the-job training with job-related instruction and curricula obtained in a traditional higher educational setting such as a technical school. The biggest difference between this approach and, say, going to college, is that you’re actually hired. Apprentices are employees. So, you’re earning an excellent wage while you’re training. And when the training is complete, you’ll have a guaranteed job.

From Day One

From the day of your apprenticeship, you’ll receive a paycheck that increases as your training progresses. You’ve probably heard about how many traditional four-year degrees require you to take core curriculum classes that might actually have little or nothing to do with your specific degree.

As an apprentice, you’ll focus on job-related instruction and hands-on training at the job site. Make no mistake, it’s a thorough education on par with a college degree. The only difference is that it’s a highly focused education that has the objective of preparing you for a successful long-term career with a competitive salary.

Skip the Student Loan Blues

Many people finish their apprenticeships with little or no educational debt. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that the cost of attending a four-year public college is in excess of $90,000. Without scholarships, you’ll have to take out student loans to pay for this.

The average student leaves a public college with at least $25,000 in student loan debt. The payment for this is going to be about $280 a month for the next 10 years. If you borrow more than $30,000 in federal student loans, the payment schedule can stretch to up to 25 years.

A two-year public trade school is usually all that’s necessary to prepare for a job in the trades as a plumber, electrician, or an HVAC technician. The cost is significantly less – about a third of the cost of a traditional four-year degree at a public college. In many cases, your apprentice salary gives you the opportunity to pay for the cost of this shorter and less expensive education.

Learn more about getting assistance with apprenticeship opportunities here.