Want a High-Paying Career and No Student Loan Debt? Try This Alternative to College


Excited to kickstart your career, but dreading the thought of student loans? Believe it or not, there is another way to learn.


It might sound like something out of the Middle Ages, but an apprenticeship is still a legitimate route to a well-paying career. In fact, the Obama administration recently allocated $100 million in grant money to expand apprenticeship programs in the United States.  

And the best part? Not only do apprenticeships require zero student loans — they actually pay you to complete your training.

Personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly (GRS) shared a ton of awesome information about apprenticeships in a recent post. Here’s what we learned…

How to Get an Apprenticeship

There are two main types of apprenticeships, according to GRS: trade and academic.

In a trade apprenticeship, you learn the skills necessary to become an auto mechanic, carpenter, construction worker, electrician, plumber, etc.

Once you’re certified, these skilled trades pay well. The median annual wage for a plumber, for example, is $49,140, GRS reports. And, even better, Registered Apprentices earn an average of $15 per hour, or $31,200 per year for full-time work.

In an academic apprenticeship, you blend training with a degree program. Many of these types of apprenticeships are available in “high-skilled, high-growth industries like healthcare, biotechnology, information technology and advanced manufacturing,” according to GRS.

If you’re interested in pursuing an apprenticeship, GRS offers several tips:

  • Get in touch with the organization or union for the trade you’re interested in learning.
  • Search the Department of Labor’s apprenticeship database.
  • If you’re already in school, ask your career office about apprenticeship opportunities.

Want to learn more about apprenticeships? Head over to Get Rich Slowly.

Your Turn: Have you considered an apprenticeship?

Susan Shain, senior writer for The Penny Hoarder, is always seeking adventure on a budget. Visit her blog at susanshain.com, or say hi on Twitter @susan_shain.