3 Things to Consider When Choosing an Apprenticeship or College

Graduation cap on top of yellow hard hat.

Trying to choose between college or other continuing education routes, such as an apprenticeship for a skilled trade? From cost and duration to type of curriculum and career opportunities, there are many factors to consider. Read on to learn more about these facets of continuing education and the possibilities that alternative educations can provide.

Hands opening wallet and pulling out money.


When looking into continuing education institutions or programs, cost is usually one of the most important factors. The average tuition cost in our region ranges from $8,200 for North Dakota ($19,420 for out-of-state tuition) and $11,300 for Minnesota ($20,890 for out-of-state).

Unless you have a college fund in place, its easy to see how this could quickly build a substantial amount of debt for students whose only option to attend a traditional four-year college is to take out loans.

While college is required and absolutely necessary for careers such as lawyers and medical doctors, other career paths today are showing that more options are available than the traditional four-year college degree, such as trade schools and apprenticeship programs.

Apprenticeship programs offer on-the-job training curriculum in which participants receive a paycheck while they earn their certification for a particular trade. This is a beneficial option for many seeking alternative ways to expand their knowledge without the hefty price tag of a college education.

Related: State of the Industry: How Companies Are Shifting to Earn While You Learn

Man teaching two younger men a trade skill.


When choosing your educational path, its important to consider what type of environment and learning style will work best for you in the long run.

Traditional college educations typically consist of classroom lectures, literature, exams, and possibly group projects or presentations. Apprenticeship programs are different in that they offer on-the-job training by professionals in the industry or trade.

This type of curriculum offers a combination of classroom lessons and hands-on training for a trade skill. Many trade professions now offer apprenticeship opportunities, such as sheet metal and HVAC installation, electrical and plumbing.

Construction Workers Shaking Hands


Participants in an apprenticeship program not only get paid during the process, but oftentimes the company teaching them is extremely motivated to get them to stay. This means more opportunities for career advancement and increased benefits at a company they’ve already grown familiar with.

In a traditional college setting, you are commonly going up against others with similar degrees, grades and resumes in your job search, and may need to put in more work to set yourself apart from your peers.

Sign with arrows pointing opposite directions.


The decision is yours to make and no matter what path you choose, it is important to look into your options and use the resources you have to find what will work best for you.

Speak with apprenticeship program directors and learn what certifications they have to offer, how long their programs take to complete, and what kind of pay and benefits you could expect to receive. Talk to university and trade school representatives from schools youre thinking about attending to learn more about their programs, tuition costs and what they focus on providing students.

Make the informed decision that best suits your learning style and lifestyle.

Interested in learning more about Custom Aire and our Sheet Metal Apprenticeship program? Visit our Careers page or contact us today!

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