If you're like many smart young people who are considering pursuing a trade in order to secure a good future, you're probably also wondering how to get that education without racking up thousands of dollars in student loans. You probably already know that working at a part-time job can help defray college expenses, but there are other less obvious strategies that can help you get through school with minimal accrued debt. Here are three money-saving ideas to provide you with inspiration for getting a good education without starting out your journey in the working world saddled by heavy student loan repayments.
Look For Trade-Specific Scholarships
Your school's financial aid office is an excellent place to begin your search for applicable scholarships. However, don't let it stop there -- your local home improvement retailer may be able to provide scholarships to students specializing in the trades. You can also apply for trade school scholarships through unions and fraternal organizations. You can also search the online version of your local newspaper for scholarships provided by local businesses, and be sure to ask your parents about any organizations they may belong to that provide scholarships for members' children.
Seek Out an Apprenticeship
One of the main financial advantages of choosing a trade is that apprenticeships are often part of the package. For instance, if you decide to seek a career as a plumber, you can take advantage of on-the-job training programs. Participation in a plumbing apprenticeship program will not only come with a paycheck, it will be tuition-free and will provide an excellent introduction to the type of work you'll be doing after becoming a fully fledged plumber. Most apprenticeship programs also pay for the classes you need to take in order to be eligible for certification as a journeyman plumber.
By doing plumbing apprenticeships, you provide a journeyman plumber with assistance in basic installation, assembly, repair, and maintenance of household and commercial plumbing. You'll become familiar with the plumbing codes of your particular state and earn an average of $22,250 per year, although this will vary by location. The requirements for becoming a plumber's apprentice may vary by state as well, but the basic standards are that the applicant must be 18 years old or older, be a high school graduate, hold a valid non-commercial drivers' license, and be able to pass a drug and criminal background screening.
Those who have successfully completed their plumbers apprenticeship program and gained their journeyman certification average around $117,000 per year during their first years working as a plumber -- and the great majority, if not all, of that money is free of student loan repayment obligations.
Develop a Side Hustle or Two
A side hustle is different from a classic part-time job in that you can usually work on your own time -- and this flexibility can provide students with optimal convenience. Are you good at writing? Many opportunities exist to earn money blogging or writing product descriptions, and a simple internet search will result in several ways to pad your pocket this way. You may also choose to participate in research studies on your campus, or, if you've got extra strength and stamina, consider putting up an ad offering your services to those who are moving in and out of student housing. If you're good with animals, consider starting a pet sitting/dog walking service -- whatever your skills and talents, consider finding creative ways to make them pay off.
Don't hesitate to contact your school's financial aid office and make an appointment to find out more information on getting through trade school without accruing significant student loan debt.