How to Get an Apprenticeship and Avoid Student Loan Debt

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 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 apprentice programs offer a viable path to a fulfilling career, but they also relieve the financial burden commonly associated with higher education.

The Apprenticeship Advantage: Learning by Doing

Apprenticeships blend hands-on experience with a theoretical foundation. In contrast to 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 getting renewed attention from employers and academic institutions as they understand 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 focus on theoretical knowledge, which is undoubtedly important but lacks the real-world application that employers covet. Apprenticeships bridge this gap by preparing you to be 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 styles of apprenticeships available can 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. When the program is over, 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, particularly for career paths in engineering, health care and information technology (IT). The pros are two-fold: students get real-world experience while fulfilling academic requirements, and they earn a wage, reducing the need for loans.

How to Get an Apprenticeship

A number of 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 related 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 a very good resource for career seekers nationwide.
  • Educational institutions: If you want to work while obtaining a degree, colleges and universities are the first point of contact. The programs most likely to integrate apprenticeships as part of the degree program include computer and IT, engineering, nursing, business management or consumer science.
  • Trade company websites: Lots of companies list 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 higher education 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 pinpointing the majors and career paths that utilize or require apprenticeships. Then, pick one of the available apprenticeships from your narrowed-down list that sparks your interest, accommodates 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, 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 developing a fulfilling career? Epperson Service Experts 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 profession starts with making informed choices. If you’re ready to take control of your future with help from Epperson Service Experts, please contact us to learn more about Service Experts Career Academy. Reach out at 843-619-3781 today to learn more!

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