If you feel trapped in a job with limited potential or want to make sure you stay ahead in a career that pays a living wage, listed below are several ways that you can get job training. Many of these career education resources are free and some are low-cost.
It’s worth noting that finding a job you like that pays well can take some time and effort. But if making the effort leads you to a good paying job that you can enjoy for the long-haul, it is certainly worth it.
Government Resources for Job Training and Apprenticeships
CareerOneStop is a website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor where you can explore careers and find training opportunities. There are free assessment tests you can take to determine both your skills (things you’re good at) and your interests (things you like to do). Knowing this can help you find the right job or career path. On the same website, you’ll also find more information about choosing a career, finding training, and finding a job in your chosen field.
ApprenticeshipUSA is another website offered though the U.S. Department of Labor to help you find career training opportunities and grow your skills without racking up debt. A recent check of the database found over 65,000 apprenticeships and on-the-job training opportunities across the country, in a wide variety of fields such as sales, healthcare, HVAC, business management, construction, manufacturing, and more. Find opportunities in your state.
Adult Basic Education (ABE), created by the U.S. Department of Education is for anyone who feels they need to brush up on essentials skills in math, computers, and writing or speaking English. Improving these basic life skills improves your work readiness and job prospects. ABE programs are free and available to the public through public schools, libraries, community-based organizations, and other groups. Find an ABE class near you.
University, College and Trade School Resources for Job Training
Alumni Associations. If you are a graduate of any trade school, 2-year college, or 4-year University, be sure to check with your alumni association. Whether you are looking for your first job or considering a mid-career change, your alma mater can provide training, mentorship, networking, and other career development resources that can help you start, manage, or grow your career. Some Alumni Associations are free to join and use; others may charge admission fees to join and/or to access some career training and services.
Certifications. Many colleges, universities, and trade schools offer certificate programs for those entering the job market, as well as those who want to enhance their skills mid-career. Earning certificates is not free and can cost hundreds of dollars for study materials and exams. However, when compared to a 2-year or 4-year college degree, certifications are low cost. Certificates and diplomas are available in a wide variety of careers and industries. Popular certifications include accounting, bookkeeping, financial planning, healthcare administration, project management, telecommunications, IT, and computer technology. Before enrolling in a certificate program, the most important thing to do is to take your time, don’t rush into a decision, and carefully decide out whether your skills and interests are a match for the program. If it looks right, then also find out how many graduates find jobs or career growth opportunities as a result of the training. If there is a particular job for which you want to get certification, it’s okay to check an employer about whether they are more likely to hire someone with the certification than without. Above all, don’t make your decision based on a sales pitch from the school representative. Good training costs money and completing a certification program takes hard work. Earning a certificate is not a ride down easy street to a cushy job. Make sure it’s right for you before you sign up.
Other Job Training Resources
Goodwill Industries provides free skills training and career building tools. You can assess your skills and interests, explore careers, build job and interview skills, work with a mentor, and search for job opportunities. The supportive and knowledgeable staff members at Goodwill help you identify and develop the skills you need to grow in your chosen profession. If you can’t get to a Goodwill in person or prefer to get a head start from the comfort of your own home, take advantage of their free online program, Goodwill Prospects.
Professional Associations (including unions). If you belong to a professional association or union, check to see what types of resources and activities they offer to support career training and development. If you don’t belong to any business group, consider joining one. Even if you are not yet employed, a professional association is a great way to participate in networking with others in your chosen field. There are associations for almost every occupation and industry. Search online for professional associations in healthcare, science, engineering, computer technologies, insurance, accounting, manufacturing and industrial occupations, and skilled trades (welders, electricians, machinists, masons, plumbers, boilermakers, pipefitters, heavy equipment/crane operators, and others). Fees to join vary widely, but most groups will let you attend as a guest for one or more visits to help you decide if it’s a good fit for you.
Employers. Don’t overlook your current employer. If you are employed, be sure to check whether your current employer offers tuition reimbursement. Take advantage of it to advance your career, or even prepare for a new one.
Military Service. United States military service can provide you with good life skills, a college education, and even a satisfying career if you want to go for the long haul. You might consider military service if you like to stay physically fit, can adjust to a disciplined lifestyle, and can follow orders. Opportunities increase if you excel in math or science and/or possess leadership qualities that would make you a good officer. If you join the military at 18 and stay in 20 years, you still have plenty of time for a second career in the private sector when you get out at 38. So it’s something to think about. Don’t just talk to a recruiter, though. Find people in your city who are in active service or retired and talk to them about service in the military. Information about how to join the United States military.
National Service Programs. AmeriCorps, the Peace Corps and Teach for America provide free on-the-job training, a paid position, and an education award that can be applied to future college classes (or apply to a portion of student loan debt). While the pay is low, you can earn money while you train (that’s even better than free!) and move on when your service period ends to a better paying job. It can be a good way to get started or make a change in your career path.
Jobs that require relatively little training
There are many good paying jobs that do not require long training. The following list requires training from from a few weeks to less than a year. These include: certified nursing assistants (CNAs), emergency medical technicians (EMTs), physical therapists, massage therapists, personal trainers, commercial truck drivers, and sales trainees.
So that’s 12 ways you can look for free or low cost job training. Whether you are young and just starting out, need a boost in mid-career, or are considering a second career for retirement, you have several options to check out. Good luck!