Microsoft, Twitter and Walmart want to help you get a job in tech — without racking up student loans

  • Firms like Ford, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Sony Electronics, Sprint, Toyota, Twitter, Visa and Walmart are exploring, and in some cases implementing, apprenticeship programs for careers in technology.
  • Tech apprenticeships offer a new way for Americans without a college degree or tech background to land a job in the field without going back to school. 
  • The average student loan balance is around $30,000, up from $10,000 in the early 1990s.

Ryan Reed was having a tough time.

The 38-year-old, a resident of Raleigh, North Carolina, had been trying for months to land a job in technology, a passion dating to his days as a second-grader disassembling flashlights for fun.

But the former firefighter, who’d suffered a career-ending back injury, didn’t have a college degree — a formidable roadblock in the industry. With five kids to support, he couldn’t afford to go back to school.

Luck was on Reed’s side, though. In 2018, he found — and landed — a paid apprenticeship as part of a new program at IBM, and was recently hired full-time.

A growing push among tech firms to hire, pay and train apprentices means getting a college degree — and its resulting loan burden — may no longer be a requirement for cash-strapped individuals.

“Going into debt at 40 for $50,000 or $60,000 isn’t a great option when you’re trying to plan for your retirement and college for your kids,” Reed said. “That’s not the kind of change most people can make.”


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