Those who feel like high school should be the end of their academic career can rejoice in knowing that there are plenty of other high paying options available, so long as they have a plan and good mindset. In fact, a path that’s already popular in Europe could lead to a significant earnings increase over a college degree. What I’m talking about, of course, is pursuing an apprenticeship. 

For those looking to get a head start on their career, or maybe a redo, an apprenticeship offers four major advantages over pursuing a four-year university.

1. It’s All About The Benjamins

Believe it or not, many apprentices have more lucrative careers than their college counterparts with benefits starting on day 1. While college students pay to attend class or work in unpaid internships, apprenticeship programs must pay at least minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act. However, at $15 per hour, the average starting wage is higher.

Those earnings continue throughout their early careers. While apprentices can breathe a sigh of relief and spend (or save) their money as they like, college graduates spend years paying off $100,000+ in student loans. Even better, the earnings accumulate over the course of their careers. On average, apprentices earn more than $300,000 more than those who do not pursue an apprenticeship according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That’s a lot of extra dough and why I argue it can be easier to become a millionaire with a blue-collar career!

2. Job Security

As more and more high schoolers choose to attend college, the supply of skilled labor continues to shrink. But, our demand for the labor continues on creating more and more job openings! This gap between the supply and demand is also driving up worker pay and giving employees more power. For apprentices, these factors combine to offer a lot of job security. 

And lest you think there are only a few careers this benefits, there is a wide range of job possibilities for apprentices, with thousands of apprenticeship programs registered with the Department of Labor. 

3. Mentorship and Networking

Networking and mentorship are important regardless of career path. In particular, mentoring has been one of the most instrumental elements of my own career. Yet, while mentoring is always important, not all career paths offer access to them. Fortunately, apprentices receive a mentor right away, while college students have to go to job fairs and join employee resource groups just to meet viable candidates. 

4. A Useful Diploma

Need something to hang on the wall? About 44% of college grads between 22 and 27 are in jobs that don’t require a degree. Just 27% of these recent grads have a job related to their major. While many college grads receive degrees that they never actually get to use, apprentices also receive professional certificates. That accreditation is important to take from job to job. The difference is, you’ll get to use your certificate every day.

So is an apprenticeship for you? There are some major advantages, so if you like blue-collar, or highly skilled work, and want a secure, high-paying job without having to attend college, then an apprenticeship should be at the top of your list. In the end, though, the only person who can really decide what is best for you is you. 

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