Apprenticeships: Take a Different Career Path

Engineer Training Apprentices On CNC Machine
“Preparing for your future” for most high school students means flipping through college brochures and searching for scholarships/student loans to afford the school that they connect with best. But, for far too few, preparing for the future is looking for in-demand or continually growing career fields. Some high school students never pause to consider if the path they want to take even requires a traditional college degree or if there is a cheaper, more effective means to secure their future career.


Career advisers will almost universally agree, you will need continued education after high school in order to have an upwardly mobile career. What you sometimes don’t hear is, there is more than one path to post-secondary education. We’re talking apprenticeships. Not becoming a sorcerer’s apprentice or joining a reality tv competition, but real life, hands-on experience in your desired field. Often, when we consider trade jobs or jobs that don’t necessarily require a 4-year degree, we think of grunt work for long hours and low wages. That is NOT the case. To help resolve this view, look at the facts of apprenticeships in Alabama and what that can mean for your future.


While some occupations like doctors and lawyers require at least a four-year degree or more, post-secondary education is no tone-size-fits-all. If you dream of working in the medical, finance, marketing, or engineering field, etc., there are plenty of routes that you can take that will have you making money as you learn and not racking up student debt. The concept that a “high-wage, high-demand career” requires training/education beyond high school is factual, but a common misunderstanding is that education has to exist as a 4-year university program resulting in a Bachelor’s degree.


The truth is, employers want job candidates with work experience. Even with a degree in your desired field, most companies want to see at least an internship or entry-level job experience within your job field on your resume. Apprenticeships offer students the chance to earn a progressive wage while they are also gaining the work experience and classroom training that will multiply their value to employers.


What is an apprenticeship? They can be in manufacturing, engineering, computer science, social work, medical, hospitality and tourism, transportation and logistics, and the list goes on.
The traditional educational model has students go to school, get training, and then look for an employer who wants the skills they have. Apprenticeships flip this sequence of events by connecting students to employers who want to hire them and are willing to invest in them to get the training they need. Apprentices are employees receiving training, not just students gaining work experience. The national credential earned by an apprentice provides portable job credentials, so even if markets shift, apprentices are more able to find sustained employment.
Just a few examples of available apprenticeship opportunities throughout the state of Alabama:
  1. Social Worker
  2. Commercial Driver
  3. Advanced Manufacturing Technician
  4. Fire Fighter
  5. IT Specialist
  6. HVAC Technician
  7. Lineworker
  8. Bank Branch Manager
  9. Electrician
  10. Healthcare Occupations

The really awesome part is there is no cost to the apprentice! Once complete, you have applicable work experience and a relationship with that company. You might be thinking “this sounds like an internship?”…but it’s even better! As an apprentice, you are hired from the start and you continue working in that role you were trained for! Find more info on apprenticeships at

You can also search online through the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship and find a catalog of apprenticeable occupations. An apprenticeship can be just what you need to get your foot in one of many occupational doors.
No matter whether you are still investigating different career options or if you are interested in learning about specific training programs, the AlabamaWorks! student resource page is a great place to begin.
Highest Number of Average Annual Openings in AL 2021:
  • Production Workers – 3,050
  • Hospitality – 2,575
  • Industrial Machinery Mechanics – 1,405
  • Medical Assistants – 1,330
  • Software Developers – 720
Top 5 Fastest Growing Careers in AL 2021:
  1. Occupational Therapy Assistants – 3.73%
  2. Information Security Analysts – 3.13%
  3. Speech-Language Pathologists -2.50%
  4. Software Developers, Applications – 2.43%
  5. Physical Therapist Assistants – 2.32%


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