How to Get an Apprenticeship and Avoid Student Loan Debt

Student loan debt across the nation has been a growing issue 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 giving advice to 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.

The Apprenticeship Advantage: Learning by Doing

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.

Why the Resurgence in Apprenticeships?

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.

Apprenticeship Paths: Trade and Academic

Understanding the types of apprenticeships available will help you make a more informed decision. Here’s a breakdown of the two major options.

Trade Apprenticeships

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:

  • Electrician: $49,840
  • Plumber and pipe-fitter: $49,140
  • HVAC technician: $43,640
  • Solar panel installer: $37,900
  • Auto mechanic: $36,610
  • Construction worker: $30,000 to $45,000

Academic Apprenticeships

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.

How to Get an Apprenticeship

A few good resources are at your disposal to help you get an apprenticeship. Here’s where to look:

  • Trade organizations and unions: Start by reaching out to specific institutions relevant to your field of interest to see if they have any available apprenticeships.
  • US Department of Labor: The DOL website has a searchable database of apprenticeship opportunities that you can narrow down by geographic region, which is an excellent resource for career seekers all over the country.
  • Educational institutions: If you want to work while pursuing a degree, colleges and universities are the first point of contact. The programs most likely to integrate apprenticeships as part of the degree program most often are in computer and IT, engineering, nursing, business management or consumer science.
  • Trade company websites: Many companies identify apprenticeship opportunities on their career pages.
  • Networking: In some cases, the old-fashioned way is the best way. Talking to people in the industry can supply you with insider information on upcoming opportunities.

Choosing the Right Apprenticeship for You

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 method helps you align your educational pathway with real-world opportunities, which makes for a smoother transition into the job market and a satisfying career for years to come.

Choose Service Experts Career Academy

Are you looking to avoid the student loan trap while pursuing a fulfilling career? Peachtree Service Experts offers a standout apprenticeship program called Service Experts Career Academy (SECA). SECA offers advanced 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 Peachtree Service Experts, please contact us to learn more about Service Experts Career Academy. Reach out at 678-235-9699 today to learn more!

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