While college is the goal of many high school students, it is not for all. Some put college off for a year or more, some go into the military, some go into certification programs, and others just want to find meaningful work that pays a decent wage. For those in that last category, The Registered Apprenticeship program is worth considering. The program, structured and monitored by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA), brings together those seeking work with businesses seeking workers through a paid apprenticeship. This is a good option for those who do not want to go to college straight out of high school or even at all.

According to the Labor Department’s website, the Registered Apprenticeship program “is a unique, flexible training system that combines job related technical instruction with structured on-the-job learning experiences…It provides the opportunity for workers seeking high-skilled, high- paying jobs and for employers seeking to build a qualified workforce.”

Businesses that are searching for people to train in their industry post open apprenticeship opportunities on the ETA website. The website explains who is eligible to apply, how to apply, and what the applicant can expect. Those accepted into apprenticeships start earning a salary immediately, while working and learning along the way. Salaries increase as skill levels increase. The apprenticeships range from one to six years, with four years being the most common. While construction and manufacturing industries are the most common businesses that use the Registered Apprenticeship program, applicants also can find openings in health care, energy, law enforcement, auto mechanics, telecommunications, food service, and much more.

According to the website, the benefits to applicants include: improved skills and competencies, incremental wage increases as skills improve, on-the-job training, career advancement, industry-issued and nationally recognized credentials, and articulation agreements “between certain apprenticeship training programs and 2- and 4-year colleges that create opportunities for college credit and future degrees.”

That last benefit is particularly appealing. Not only do apprentices start right off earning a salary while learning a trade, there is opportunity to go to college at a later date if the apprentice so desires—and some of the employers will partially or fully fund that education.

This program is appealing to wide a range of high school graduates: from those who want to earn money right away and gain valuable training along the way, to those for whom college is simply too expensive.  College right after high school is not the right path for every student; the Registered Apprenticeship program is just one viable alternative.

The program’s website is confusing to maneuver, but it does explain the program and, once you find it, lists available apprenticeships by state and zip code: http://www.doleta.gov/OA/apprentices_new.cfm .  For more information, call Charles Noon in the Denver ETA office: 303-844-6362.

P. Carol Jones is the author of “Toward College Success: Is Your Teenager Ready, Willing, and Able.” Visit www.towardcollegesuccess.com to read excerpts and to follow her blog. Ferah Aziz is a college coach with launchphase2. Visit www. launchphase2.com or call 720-340-8111 to learn more about coaching for college bound students, and success coaching for college students.