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4 reasons why you should consider an apprenticeship

In honor of National Apprenticeship Week, we look at one of the most underrated paths to a great career.

4 reasons why you should consider an apprenticeship

How often do you think about doing an apprenticeship? A lot? Rarely? Does the term sound antiquated to you, perhaps even vaguely medieval?

If so, it might be time to shift your thinking. President Barack Obama proclaimed this week National Apprenticeship Week in an effort to draw attention to programs—which teach workers the skills they need to succeed in a particular trade—that could connect thousands of job seekers with rewarding work and larger paychecks.

“If we create good jobs and help workers get the skills they need to succeed in those jobs, we can restore the link between hard work and growing opportunity for every American,” reads Obama’s proclamation.

Still need some convincing? Read on for five reasons why an apprenticeship could be the perfect way to jumpstart your career.

1. You could boost your starting wage

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, workers who undergo apprenticeships have an average starting salary of more than $50,000, and earn $300,000 more, on average, than non-apprentices over the course of their careers.

But what about during the actual apprenticeship? Unlike an internship, apprenticeship programs must pay at least minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act. On average, according to the Department of Labor, apprenticeships make a starting wage of around $15 per hour, and some programs feature wage increases that gradually bump up your pay as you pick up new skills.

2. You won’t go into debt

With student debt at a record high, apprenticeship programs could present an appealing alternative to four-year college programs, with a debt-free path to a well-paying career.

Apprenticeship programs are free, and—if you’re looking to get some college experience at the same time—some will even give you credit that you can put toward a degree.

3. You could open yourself up to a wide range of careers

There are more than 1,000 occupations with apprenticeship programs that have been registered with the Department of Labor. The range of possible careers is staggering. You could train to become a bricklayer, an optical technician, a chef or a structural steel worker to name a few.

Apprenticeships are also on the rise in high-growth industries like health care and information technology.

4. You could help the economy

The supply of skilled workers in the United States is shrinking. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce predicts a shortage of five million workers with technical certificates by 2020. Apprenticeships could be a key force in shifting that trend. According to the Center for American Progress, more than 80% of U.S. companies with apprentices said that these programs helped them meet staffing demands.

That’s probably part of the reason why the government is investing heavily in apprenticeships, with a $175 million grant aimed toward training more than 34,000 new apprentices announced in September. It also created a $2 billion training fund with the intention of doubling the number of apprentices in the U.S.

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