Getting a Great Job Doesn’t Have to Require a Lifetime of Loans
You don’t have to have debt to get an education. Front line news on a regular basis is the expense of a college degree and the amount of debt students, and parents, are accruing in order to get an education. There are alternatives to loans and ways to make college possible, but it is also worth considering a choice that does not involve the expense of four years of tuition. If this expense is daunting, as it is for more people, why not consider all options before making the commitment to such a significant expense.
Often, college graduates end up in jobs that don’t require a college degree. Regardless of the outcome, those loans still need to be paid. There is no money-back guarantee if you don’t land a lucrative job. What if you could find a great job without having to start your career with debt hanging over your head? Is it possible to find a path to a satisfying job with a good paycheck and a solid potential of ongoing demand without a college degree?
College loans are not a small problem. Many millennials have had to delay purchasing a home, or settling into marriage and family because of the debt they continue to pay long after graduation. I know some people who inquire about student loans as part of the dating process. Once you get married, those loans become part of the household expense. Crushing debt can be a game changer.
In recent years, the messaging provided to high school students is that a college degree is required to have a fulfilling and well-paying career. Many careers do require a college degree, or beyond, but many do not and the ones that do not require a degree are those often overlooked by students and guidance counselors. Our culture seems to have dismissed these careers so many outstanding opportunities are ignored. Consequently, there are open positions in high paying jobs going unfilled. There are efforts being made to provide more information and make it readily available to students, parents and teachers while navigating the challenging, and expensive, road to a career. Several resources are listed below.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the government’s website for occupational and career information, there are many careers still in high demand, requiring a high school diploma. In general, many trades provide paid training through apprenticeships. The starting wage is approximately $15 per hour and, depending on the trade, the training can be one year or as much as four years. The important point here is that training for this career is paid training. The student (apprentice) learns on-the-job with a paycheck while his or her college student counterpart is not earning money, but paying money for tuition. The apprentice ends his or her apprenticeship with a job. The college student ends his or her education with a job search.
Typically, apprentices are hired and the salary increases just for completing the program. There is no such guarantee for a college student. While not dismissing the benefits of a college degree or the satisfaction of that accomplishment, the message is balancing multiple considerations before feeling forced into a financial commitment that may not even lead down the right road. Just take the time to consider all options. A few ideas are listed below.
OCCUPATION MEDIAN WAGE
Sheet Metal Worker $50,400
Elevator Installer and Repairer $84,990
Solar Panel Installer $44,890
Landscaping $27,000 – $38,000
Construction Supervisor $59,350
Fitness Trainer $38,000 – $59,000
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
Occupational Outlook Handbook (often available in your high school counselor’s office)
Department of Labor – Career One Stop
U.S. Department of Labor – for apprenticeship information
Electrical Workers Union
Also, local websites for the union in your region of the country