Low-Risk Alternatives to College for Finding Job Opportunities

College was once an excellent solution that allowed young people and those hopeful for career change to reach better opportunities. But today, as many disillusioned college graduates will agree, attending a college may only raise questions. Questions like: “Who is going to hire a fresh graduate these days?” “Where can I find jobs for my degree?” And, of course, “How am I going to afford this?”

While college might be a more certain answer for some professions, it can be an extraordinarily expensive and uncertain investment for others.

However, post-secondary education or training is a near necessity for most jobs outside of retail. But college is no longer the ultimate answer in job security, and there are plenty of significantly more affordable routes to take in finding a successful career path besides a traditional college degree. Even college graduates can make themselves more flexible by seeking alternative paths.

Here are two low-risk inexpensive alternatives to college that can result in financial and professional success:

Commercial Driver’s License

Acquiring a commercial driver’s license opens a huge network of opportunities for the job seeker who wants to make a substantial amount more than the average high school graduate. In fact, these driving jobs usually provide many opportunities that give college degrees a run for their money. Those with a commercial driver’s license can access jobs as truck drivers, bus drivers, hazardous material handlers and many more. There are various endorsements that a driver can attain to operate different vehicles depending on their professional aspirations.

Working in these fields can be very lucrative compared to other entry level positions, and they’re definitely in demand. The most popular CDL job is trucking, in which there is practically zero unemployment. Aspiring truck drivers usually accrue a handful of job offers before they even finish trucking school. With some courses as short as two weeks and at a price rivaling the cost of a single semester in college, earning a CDL can be a much better choice for some. Some trucking firms will even foot the bill for training as long as an applicant signs a contract.

Driving jobs are ideal for young career-oriented individuals, though high school graduates will have to wait until they’re 21 in most states. While these jobs might be less appealing for family-oriented people, it can be a good and well-paid start for those who can appreciate the road for a living. As long as someone can pass the CDL test, they have an extraordinary opportunity in acquiring their CDL.

Trade Schools / Certifications

Although still a considerable commitment at two years or so and some tuition, trade schools are a good route for those without the resources or desire to attend a full-fledged university.

Trade schools train individuals in professions that will always be in demand, and often with great pay. Whereas universities are concerned with a balanced formal education, trade schools cut to the core and gives people practical knowledge to expand their career prospects. Additionally, instructors are frequently real world professionals with invaluable connections and resources at their disposal – which sadly is frequently not the case with traditional colleges.

If you’re already experienced with something but lack a piece of paper to prove it, you may have plenty of opportunities already at your disposal. By earning professional certifications through certain programs that demonstrate your basic skills and background, you can bolster your resume to make yourself stand out as a qualified professional compared to other applicants.

While some certification programs can be expensive and take some time to acquire, there are plenty of inexpensive (and sometimes free) programs that job seekers should definitely seek out.

Additionally, the vast majority of certification programs take less than a year to complete and offer flexible schedules, online classes, and job searching services. Certifications range from general ones that any job seeker in a field can rely on to product-specific and professional varieties.

Those attending trade schools or acquiring certifications can expect to find opportunities in fields like

  • culinary arts
  • computer maintenance
  • health care
  • interior design
  • construction
  • home repair and many, many more

With a CDL, trade schools, and certifications, job seekers anywhere can reach a job that aligns with their professional and personal interests without dealing with the rigors of a traditional curriculum and the uncertainty that a college degree carries.

Updated: 09/02/2017
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Adil Khan
Adil Khan is freelance writer and a Computer Engineer by profession. He started writing articles for CareerThoughts.com in 2016. He writes a opinion column for a local newspaper. He is yet to join Twitter!

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