College Decision Day is May 1, when many young adults will make a decision about where to spend the next four years of their lives. But every year, nearly 34% of high school graduates make the decision to not attend university right after graduating. And over the past two years, college enrollment has declined dramatically while the cost of a degree has reached an all time high.

If you’re not sure college is the right decision, apprenticeships can be an outstanding alternative to traditional education pathways. Known for their unique combination of high-quality education with paid, on-the-job training, apprenticeships allow career starters to train in a skill, like software engineering or digital marketing, while working at a company and earning a salary. Apprenticeships are likely not on your radar, but they should be. Why? Here are 5 things you should know about an apprenticeship to jumpstart your career.

  1. You are a full time employee and earn an entry-level salary. Unlike college where you can pay up to $50,000 annually (not including extra costs like book supplies) or bootcamps, there is no tuition to train as an apprentice. In fact you are paid a salary because you are working at a company full time as an entry-level employee.
  2. You receive high-quality education to learn an in-demand skill. Tech apprenticeships are growing in the US and you can find apprenticeship roles in software engineering, digital marketing, data analytics, cybersecurity and more. Usually, around 20% of your time is spent learning about that skill or industry and you’ll join online or in-person classes similar to going to school. Programs typically last 12-15 months so you have plenty of time to absorb skills and leave well equipped to take on a career in that industry.
  3. Applied-learning is proven to be a better way to learn technical skills. At university, you learn many things over a four year time period, but when it comes time to apply those skills in a job many students find they have to be retaught because so much time has elapsed. That’s why applied learning is so powerful - you learn a skill, like a coding line or how to set up a SEO campaign, and then apply it right away for a real-life project at a company. Many studies have shown the benefits of applied learning including increasing critical thinking and engagement.
  4. You can work at a fast paced company like Box or Verizon. Apprenticeships have historically been more common for training in manual trades like electricians. But they can be just as impactful for training in digital roles as well. Many companies have created apprenticeship programs that allow career starters without degrees to work and train at their companies. Check out the Multiverse job board for open roles at top companies countrywide. The Department of Labor’s apprenticeship website also shares opportunities and more information on apprenticeships.
  5. You can work on soft (or durable) skills in addition to technical skills. Universities often don’t teach you fundamental skills to succeed in a job - like how to effectively run a meeting or how to communicate with your manager, but apprenticeships do because students are on the job from day one. With Multiverse, you also have a coach to help you hone in on these durable skills.

What’s the catch? There is none. For decades, college decision day has put a divide between those who go to college and those who don’t. That shouldn’t be the case. Apprenticeships provide an alternative pathway to accessing fast-paced, digital careers that are tuition free. Check out and apply to open roles at top tech companies through Multiverse here. New roles open year round.