Post-High School Options

The world is changing fast. Boy, is it ever. The pandemic has put many young people's educational and career plans on hold, which is frustrating for students and parents alike. Nevertheless, there's still plenty to learn and jobs to be had. In many ways, the opportunities have never been greater.

It’s become the norm for young people seeking a successful career to go straight from high school to a four-year bachelor’s degree program. And many career paths still require a bachelor's degree or higher.

However, in the 21st century, the United States is on the verge of a serious workforce shortage in many well-paying, in-demand career fields that require specific technical training, but not a four-year degree. At the same time, many parents still want their child to pursue a bachelor’s degree after high school.

A 2019 Kansas Department of Education survey of nearly 19,000 Kansas parents, focusing on their oldest child 18 or younger, showed that 62.7% of parents hope their child attends a four-year college or university as the next step after high school. In comparison, only 12.4% said they hope their child attends a community college, 8% hope their child attends a tech college, 3.5% said they hope their child learns a trade, 1.3% said they hope their child joins the military, and 0.6% hope their child takes an entry-level job.

This gap in parents’ understanding of the changing job market — along with the training that job market demands — is why HirePaths was created. Our goal is to inspire, educate and excite parents about the wide spectrum of opportunities available, so that they can encourage and support their children to explore a variety of possible paths after high school.  

Consider These Career Paths

Here are three possible pathways to a well-paying job with a relatively small investment in time or money:


Apprenticeship programs combine high-paying jobs with on-the-job training without the typical student debt associated with college.

An apprentice typically works alongside a certified or experienced professional, who mentors them in learning a specific skilled trade.

Some employers offer on-the-job training programs to prepare workers to perform a specific job skill. They will hire prospective employees with the right character traits, willingness to do an in-demand job, or aptitude for a specific type of work, then teach them everything they need to know to do the job.

Some employers pay a smaller salary during the training stage, or ask the employee to sign a commitment contract to cover the cost of training.

Technical and community colleges offer face-to-face or online coursework in specific job pathways. Some short-term certificate programs can be completed in eight or sixteen weeks, while associate degree programs might take up to two years to finish. Typically, coursework is mostly focused on career skills and tuition is considerably less than at a four-year university. Some coursework may be eligible for transfer to a four-year university, if a bachelor's degree is later desired.  Many technical and community colleges also offer dual-credit programs with high schools to allow students to earn high school and college credit at the same time.


RESULTS More than 90% of apprentices remain employed after completing their program, and often start at salaries over $60,000. Learn more at this U.S. Department of Labor website: At the end of the training period, the employee typically receives a salary increase. Because technical and community colleges tend to respond to local market demand, many of them have programs to help employees find work locally, and most graduates are quickly hired.

Get Ahead in High School!

Many young people find great success through technical training or apprenticeships while still in high school. Taking dual-credit, career and technical education (CTE) courses before high school graduation can help young adults explore career possibilities and get a jump-start on the credentials they need to land a great job — often for free or at a reduced rate of tuition. Be sure to ask your school’s counselor about CTE opportunities!  

Check out some career paths