Is College Necessary to Land that Dream Job?

by Techtonic
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What do Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and Ralph Lauren all have in common? Besides being billionaires, none of these distinguished individuals have college degrees. With the average total cost for attending one year of classes at a private university now exceeding $54,000, the question of value is increasingly debated. In this (hopefully) post-pandemic world, is committing four years and tens of thousands of dollars for higher education a smart investment? And if not, what are the alternatives?

Conventional Wisdom

Before considering the alternatives, let’s do a quick review of reasons to bite the bullet and spend the money. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests college graduates will significantly out-earn high school graduates, with a median annual salary of nearly $65,000 (compared to about $39,000 with HS diplomas). In addition, the majority of posted jobs require a college degree, and some experts (like Georgetown University) predict this requirement will become even more common. And just to prove it is really 2021, group health insurance is more likely to be offered as a benefit with positions requiring a college degree.

A Dose of Reality

Let’s say a new graduate is ready to join the working world – what’s their biggest concern? One certainly near the top of the list is student loan debt. The average amount in 2021 is over $37,000, with an average monthly payment of nearly $400. And keep in mind that while salaries are reported to be higher for college grads, there is no guarantee anyone will actually land such a job (as 2020 graduates unfortunately learned). One more consideration – every first-year collegiate believes graduation is four years away. Not so fast, says the National Student Clearinghouse Center, who found just 58% of students starting college in 2021 graduated on time. For many, this delay means more school loans, more competition for existing jobs and a late start building work (and credit) experience.


There are a number of well-established alternatives to a four-year (or longer) degree. Choosing a community college will save money and time, while boosting average earnings for many in-demand professions, like dental hygienists, nurses and a variety of healthcare pursuits. Trade schools have been a popular choice for breaking into certain industries, like construction and HVAC. While less costly than a university, these can still take up to two years to complete. And then we have bootcamps. The name is appropriate, since the average software or web development bootcamp lasts 14 weeks, and you can expect to drink from the proverbial fire hose of information for the duration. These are very expensive (often $10,000 to $20,000), and because of the accelerated pace and cost, are not for everyone.

What About the Techtonic Apprentice Program?

Here, applicants get the best of both worlds, learning the latest applications and languages from senior developers at an accelerated but manageable pace. Sure, acceptance is very competitive, but this is great news for companies looking for talent since they know they are getting the best of the best. We also one-up the competition by providing 12 weeks of cutting-edge classroom training for free. Our goal is to train the best applicants, not just the ones with deep pockets. And after classes are done, graduates are moved into paid roles on the dev floor with senior developer/mentors for nine months, solving real-world problems for actual paying clients. After this year of immersion into the ways of tech, each class of apprentices is fully skilled and capable of solving the toughest software development challenges. Oh, and Techtonic has a job placement rate of 100%. What’s more, Techtonic offers free professional development, career coaching, and tech mentoring You won’t find these services offered at most colleges.

Two Wins

For budding techies wanting to launch their software development careers, the Techtonic Software Development Apprenticeship Program is a won-way ticket to a new, in-demand career with zero debt. For companies, it is the modern way to fill their IT needs on-demand with talent that is guaranteed to be highly skilled, proficient and ready to perform. The guarantee is unique in the IT recruitment industry – if for any reason a company is not satisfied with Techtonic talent after two weeks on the job, we will replace them or offer a full refund.    

When you get right down to it, there really are no other alternatives.