4 Ways Community Colleges Can Help You Make More Money

A group of students study together in the library.
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Your local community college. Maybe you associate it with two-year degrees and basic computer courses, but rarely give it more thought than that.

Well, think again.

There are unexpected money-making opportunities at community colleges, whether you’re a high school grad planning your next step, an entrepreneurial type with a fledgling business idea or a working professional looking to change fields or add to your skills.

Chances are, the community college down the street offers a class or a program that can help you make money.

4 Ways to Make Money Through Community College

Attending community college can help you discover new money-making opportunities and give you a leg up in your career.

1. Explore Well-Paying Jobs That Require Only a Two-Year Degree

Think you need four years of college (or more) to earn a decent salary? Not so.

Professions such as physical therapy assistant, dental hygienist and web developer all pay a median wage above $50,000, and you can learn them and snag a job with a two-year degree.

Even amid the economic turmoil of 2020, these jobs remain in demand — and are only expected to grow in the next few years. The best place to find a program: community colleges, which are the original incubators of career programs that require only an associate’s degree.

2. Earn Valuable Career Credentials

“Credentials” is an all-encompassing term that covers any type of learning that results in an achievement. A degree, a license, a certificate and a certification are all credentials, and all of them can lead to new careers — or enhance your status in your current one.

With employers scrambling to fill open positions, an applicant’s credential could be the key to getting noticed.

There are a plethora of credentials on offer. It’s important to vet the one you’re considering and make sure you obtain it from a reputable institution. That’s where community colleges come in.

3. Take the First Step Into an Apprenticeship Program

Apprenticeship programs, as defined by the Department of Labor, require participants to earn wages from an employer as they train. Throughout the program, which can last one to six years, participants must work under the guidance of another employee and must earn an industry-recognized credential.

That’s right — unlike college, apprenticeships pay you to learn instead of the other way around. There are several pathways into apprenticeships, including local workforce development boards and — yes — community colleges, which have established relationships with local businesses, i.e. potential employers.

4. Make Use of a Makerspace

A makerspace is a community workshop space where you can make things. Hand-crafted things. Digital things. 3D-printed things. You supply the idea, they supply the equipment and workspace, usually for free.

Community colleges are major players in providing the public with free access to makerspaces. They have the benefit of robust career programs and those relationships with local employers.

Much like the mission of community colleges to help more people achieve higher education, their makerspaces broaden access to innovations, technology and ideas.

Molly Moorhead is a Senior Editor at The Penny Hoarder.