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  • Laura Maurer

Taking the one less traveled: alternative paths to jump start your future


By: Laura Maurer


Young people looking to take a different path, job seekers looking for meaningful opportunities, volunteers looking to serve, look no further!


Read on to learn more about alternative training programs, apprenticeships and volunteer service opportunities. The best part? They are all free of cost! How are these programs possible if they are free of cost? Programs are funded by both state and federal funding sources to support economic development and job outcomes.




Job Corps provides free career training and education for income eligible 16- through 24-year-olds. With over 120 campuses across the U.S. (and 5 centers located in upstate New York) students gain the experience needed to earn their high school diploma, begin a career or apprenticeship, advance to higher education, or join the military. Job Corps students can learn about and train in a variety of career fields including: construction, health care, automotive/machine repair, and more!


Unique to other career and technical education programs, Job Corps offers residential living to students. Students are encouraged to live on center during their time at Job Corps. Some Job Corps centers offer both residential and non-residential options for students. This can provide an environment conducive to learning, surrounded by like-minded students focused on education and training. Upon completion students are provided individualized transition services to guide them in their next steps.


The program is free of cost to those who meet eligibility requirements and can start youth on a path towards a successful career!


Eligibility: Low-income 16- through 24-year-olds who are U.S. citizens, legal U.S. residents, or residents of a U.S. territory, and/or individuals who are authorized to work in the United States.


Interested in learning more and connecting with an admissions counselor? Fill out an interest form to get started: https://enroll.jobcorps.gov/interest-form/ Admissions counselors can meet with interested candidiasis virtually or even in-person at your local career center!





What is Registered Apprenticeship? Apprenticeship is an industry-driven, high-quality career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, and individuals can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and a portable, nationally-recognized credential.


Apprenticeships lead to great career outcomes! 93% of apprentices who complete a Registered Apprenticeship retain employment, with an average annual salary of $77,000. Apprenticeships cover a broad range of trades from construction, manufacturing, electrical, information technology (IT), to business-so there may be a great fit for you!

Eligibility: Each individual apprenticeship opportunity will have different requirements. For example, a diesel technician apprenticeship typically requires you to have a valid driver's license, while a pharmacy technician apprenticeship may prefer good math skills.

Get started! Find an apprenticeship local to your area: https://www.apprenticeship.gov/apprenticeship-job-finder



AmeriCorps is the federal agency for national service and volunteerism. AmeriCorps provides opportunities for Americans of all backgrounds to serve their country, address the nation’s most pressing challenges, and improve lives and communities. Volunteer service will focus on one of six key areas to make an impact: disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veteran & military families.

While AmeriCorps members are considered volunteers and do not receive a salary, they do receive a monthly living stipend to help cover rent, groceries, gas, and other expenses. At the end of their term of service, they also receive an education award—up to $6,895.00—to either put towards existing student loans or to use in continuing their education. Because AmeriCorps members typically work at non-profit organizations, the program provides a great way to network with people in the non-profit world, many of whom started out as AmeriCorps members themselves. It’s also a great stepping stone for a government career because it demonstrates a passion for and a commitment to public service. Volunteer experiences can range from national disaster response, to mentoring students, or even building houses for those in need!


Eligibility: Must be 17 years old or older (no upper age limit), Must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. National, or Lawful Permanent Resident Alien

Ready to apply? Read the guide to completing your AmeriCorps application: https://americorps.gov/sites/default/files/document/AmeriCorpsApplicantGuide-051722-508.pdf

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