Career Success via Options Other than a College Degree: Apprenticeship, Industry Credential or Learning a Trade

By Randy Wooden, Director, Professional Center by Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina

For much of the past 40 years, we heard a college degree is the way to get ahead. The Georgetown Center for Workforce Development and Education has done extensive analysis to demonstrate that, while two out of three entry-level jobs in the industrial economy demanded a high school diploma or less, now two out of three jobs demand at least some education or training beyond high school – though not necessarily a college degree. Learn more here.

Advantages of a college degree A college degree is often a requirement for corporate jobs. In addition knowledge gained through coursework, you’ll often have internship experiences to expose you to the sort of work you wish to do upon graduation. You may leverage connections with prior graduates who have made it in the business world and can help open doors for you. While college can come with substantial debt, earnings potential depends on which type of degree is earned and the condition of the labor market into which you graduate.

Advantages of apprenticeship, industry credentials, or learning a trade There is growing demand for non-degree demonstration of abilities, skills and competencies. Whether industry credentials, apprenticeships or other means, the right proof of capability can demand earnings on par with a college degree at a much lower cost and in a substantially shorter time frame.

The path to a good job – and a great career – has many onramps. Talk with people who have gone the college or earned alternative credentials. Use a tool like My Next Move to explore career interests and options. Ask questions and equip yourself to choose your path.