New Year, New Career: Job Training Programs, Apprenticeships, & the Fast-Track to Getting Paid

You can get paid while you train for a new job. There are more paid training programs out there than you might realize. Learn more about occupations, programs, and how to get started in a program.

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Are you ready to discover your college program?

Making the decision to move into a new career is an exciting one, but it can come with roadblocks that make the change difficult. One of the biggest issues could be the necessary time off work to go back to school – something that most people simply cannot afford to do. The good news is that paid training programs, such as apprenticeships, private training programs or even workforce development opportunities, can help students achieve their goals without giving up their paycheck. Read on to learn more about the possibilities available through paid training programs, why it pays to give it a shot, and how students can get started on this educational adventure.

Where Can Paid Training Programs be Found?

There are more paid training programs out there than many people might realize. They can be found in a variety of occupations, providing students with a wide variety of options to choose from. Let's dive deep into where students can find these programs.


An apprenticeship is a paid period of training during which the student builds very specific skills for a particular job. Industries and careers offering apprenticeships include engineering, power and electricity, culinary arts, agriculture and art – just to name a few. The benefits of apprenticeships include not only hands-on work while earning a paycheck, but the opportunity to network with others in the field, meet with individuals who might eventually become customers and clients, and the chance to learn skills that can cross into other professions; for instance, an electrician could easily move into solar power or a similar field.

Becoming an apprentice usually begins with the standard application process. A student who is a good fit might start with some classroom work to learn the regulations and rules, but will quickly be out in the field with a seasoned professional, who will then lead the student through hands-on training. An apprenticeship can take between one and four years to complete.

“Apprentices graduate with no student loan debts, a career in their chosen trade and the resources they need to excel,” says Peter Dyga, president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Florida East Coast chapter. “They are learning, hands-on, the skills they need in real-life situations, taking what they learn in the classroom and applying it in the field. These jobs pay well, often higher than other careers requiring a college degree.”

Private Paid Training Programs

Paid training programs are just what they sound like – they are programs that allow students to train for a specific job while actually doing that job. They receive payment for their hours worked, even though those hours are mostly filled with education. Industries offering paid training programs include medical support, truck driving, secretarial work and more.

Paid training programs provide students with a particular set of skills that they can then use to find a job in a variety of industries. For instance, someone who trains as a medical assistant can then use that knowledge and skills to find a job in a clinic, hospital or other setting that might allow for even further training, such as the opportunity to become a certified nurse assistant. These training programs can take anywhere from a few months to a few years to complete.

“Tuition is sponsored by the apprentices' employer, meaning they graduate with a career and without student loan debt,” Dyga says. “These programs appeal to people ranging in age from their mid-20s to their 60s looking for a more stable career that will provide a future for their families.”

State and Federal Workforce Development & Training

Workforce development and training programs can be found at the federal or state level. These programs target adults who might face barriers to finding a job or getting the education they need to land that job. The most popular of these programs is the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which integrates education, employment and vocational services; this is just one of the many programs available on the state and federal levels.

Those who successfully complete the workforce development and training provided for them can look forward to jobs in a wide variety of industries, such as healthcare, retail, customer services, business and more. Training for jobs is available for those who have never had a job before, or for those who need to upgrade their skills to stay competitive in the workforce.

Though there have long been programs that focus on disadvantaged youth and underprivileged students of typical college age, many workforce development and training opportunities target adults who are looking for a first career or want to move into a potentially higher-paying job.

“Adult learners invest in short programs that have an immediate impact on competitive advantages to get a job or gain an increased hourly wage,” says Elizabeth Malson, founder and faculty instructor at the Amslee Institute. “In addition to these goals, adult learners who are most successful have two significant advantages – maturity and a specific goal. Maturity provides the self-discipline to invest time, effort, and discretionary money into an education program to advance their careers. By having a specific goal, namely to be financially independent with sustainable employment and earning a living wage, adult learners have the motivation to complete homework assignments and study for exams.”

Short Term Training & Certification Programs

What are short term training and certification programs? These are programs that can take less than a day or up to two years, and they prepare students for an astounding array of employment opportunities. Some training programs are available entirely for free through local libraries, online courses, local community colleges and much more.

These programs are designed to either teach a new skill or enhance the skills a person already has. Though some might focus only on training, others might culminate in a certification that can then be used to find employment. Some examples include programs for certified nursing assistants, emergency medical technicians, hair stylists or sales trainees.

Short term training programs allow someone to get the training they need without putting too much of their hard-earned money into the program. Some work with federal and state agencies to ensure that the hands-on training is paid. And still others are made available to current employees through their workplaces, which allows them to expand their horizons while still getting paid.

“Some industries, including childcare, don't have salaries or wages that support investing in a traditional four-year bachelor's degree,” Malson says. “Thus, industry leaders are developing diploma and associate degree programs that provide high quality training with a more affordable cost and time investment…diplomas and associate degrees are licensed by the Department of Education and provide differentiation and added qualifications for top paying jobs within a trade industry.”

Training Program Challenges and Solutions

Paid training programs may help relieve some of the financial concerns students might have about leaving their job to go to school. This option allows students to get paid while they pursue their education. But there are other potential challenges students might face while in a paid training program. Here are a few of the common ones, along with the potential solutions.

Problem: Not enough open positions for apprenticeships.

  • Solution:

    As you actively search for apprenticeships, take into account the very competitive market for them, and plan your resume accordingly. What will make your resume stand out from the rest? If it means getting more knowledge about a certain subject, turn to massive open online courses (MOOCs), which are often entirely free. Though they do not provide college credit, they do provide a wealth of information – and that go-getter attitude can impress those who make the hiring decisions.
    Still no luck? Try carving out your own apprenticeship with a company you admire. Request an appointment with a hiring manager and come prepared with a top-notch resume. Focus on what an apprenticeship could bring to the company – by making it clear how an apprenticeship can benefit them, you'll get their attention.

Problem: Day-to-day and family obligations serve as a barrier to education.

  • Solution:

    When a busy schedule makes sitting in a classroom impossible, paid training programs can bridge the gap and provide an education at the same time a person earns a paycheck. So rather than being gone during the day to attend school and then working at night – taking precious time away from other obligations – students in these programs can “kill two birds with one stone,” so to speak.
    Those who still need help with juggling their obligations and apprenticeship or training program can turn to workforce development programs, which might provide the funds for child care and other necessities long enough to allow someone the opportunity to pursue their education.

Problem: These programs require a minimum of education to get into, but you don't have that.

  • Solution:

    In some situations, a high school diploma is required to enter an apprenticeship or other training program. Those who didn't complete high school can opt to earn their GED, which will then allow them to pursue higher education. Though the cost of the GED varies by state, there are many programs out that that help students take the test for little to no cost.

Problem: There are some unexpected costs associated with the training.

  • Solution:

    In some cases, students are expected to purchase certain equipment or safety gear before their apprenticeship or training program begins. For instance, a welding apprentice might need to purchase heat-safe gloves, steel-toed boots, a safety helmet and the like – all of which can add up quickly. Some employers offer scholarships or other financial aid to cover this cost; there are also programs out there that provide “wraparound” services, thus ensuring students don't have to shoulder the burden of the cost all at once. To find out more, talk with the administrator of your particular program about the options.

Problem: You don't have enough experience to get into the training program you really want.

  • Solution:

    Has a potential employer said you don't have enough experience to move into a training or apprenticeship program? No problem! You can build significant skills and get more attention for your resume by volunteering for organizations that allow you to build up valuable skills and talents.
    Even volunteer positions that don't seem related to the job you want – such as volunteering at an animal shelter when what you really want to do is work as an electrician – can impart skills that hold you in good stead no matter what your job is, such as good rapport with the community, oral and written communication skills, punctuality and much more.

Related Resources

Become Team
Become Team
Contributing Writer is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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