Go to school, get good grades, attend university, all so you can get the “good job”! Yeah… whatever!
Even before COVID-19 took 2020 off the rails, the current employment landscape no longer requires the traditional four year college degree to be successful. And let’s face it, going to college isn’t for everyone. It’s still possible to land a successful career path without spending the time and money to get a four-year undergrad degree.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), during the period between January and October of 2019, 66.2% of the 3.2 million 16 to 24-year-olds who graduated high school were enrolled in a college or university. That’s a fairly large number, but only a little more than half. Which means the remaining ones who weren’t enrolled in higher education is also a large number.
If the whole idea of chasing an advanced degree for another four years isn’t your bag, then have a look at these alternatives.
Get a job
OK… let’ s get the obvious one out of the wayt. A significant number of career tracks don’t require any kind of degree at all—and many of them pay quite well. And since you don’t have to spend a penny on higher education for them, they’re even more attractive. Just a few of the options that you may not have considered: physical trainer, loan officer, insurance sales are all options straight out of high school. That’s not to say you won’t need some training or certification, none of which will take four years, and you’ll likely get paid to do it!
Seek out an apprenticeship or fellowship.
Getting paid to get entry level real-world experience is perhaps the biggest appeal of getting a fellowship or apprenticeship position. They are an excellent way to kick start launching your career path. At a minimum, they’ll give you an idea of what working that field will look like if you decide to pursue it long term. Two resources that can help get you started are the U.S. Department of Labor website, apprenticeship.gov where you can learn more about apprenticeship programs for a wide range of occupations. Another option is profellow.com, which is a database of more than 1,300 fellowships from around the world.
There are a myriad of options to volunteer, no further away than a quick web search. Most nearly any organization that you’re a good fit with will be glad to have you. While you’re volunteering, not only will you get the emotional satisfaction of giving back to the community, you might even discover some hidden talents you never knew you had.
Enroll in community college
Here’s an idea… it’s possible to land a position with a six-figure salary with a two-year associate’s degree from a community college. Now that your interest is piqued…it’s true! A two-year degree and training at the Federal Aviation Administration academy can lead you to a position as an air traffic controller. The median wage for them is about $120,000 according to info from the BLS. A solid position for a short-term investment, that won’t break the bank in college tuition.
Monetize a hobby
Something you’re already passionate about, a hobby or something you’re interested in to an even deeper level, can turn into a full-time money making career for you. This has become quite popular as the Internet has opened up so many opportunities.It has also served to level the playing field for a lot of people like artists, musicians, and photographers. You could even take to the level of launching an actual company.
Join the military
Statistics from Military.com show about 180,000 american young people enlist for active duty in the U.S. military each year. The bare minimum requirements are a high school diploma or equivalency (GED) and passing a physical examination. There are also a wide range of career options in the military beyond the obvious combat related positions, everything to support them is also available. Finance, supply and logistics, medical, equipment maintenance and logistics…the list goes on and on. All of these fields are available in all six branches of the military, the Marine Corps, Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Space Force.
Go to a trade school
You’re not really into the whole suit-and-tie, carrying a brief case idea? Blue-collar jobs are a great alternative to the traditional college route. A trade school can be a great option to enter a solid, professional track. Electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, industrial inspectors or a long list of other options can be reached within a year and allow you to get started quickly.
Take a gap year
Actually deciding to take some time off before entering the workforce can make you more attractive to a potential employer. Gaining the street and life experience from traveling the world and learning about other cultures can be a powerful asset. Check for yourself at the American Gap Association. They’re a non-profit that researches the impact and before of young people taking a gap year. An overwhelming number who did report that they acquired skills to help them succeed in their chosen field, made a significant impact or helped them decide what field they wanted to pursue.
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