For far too long college has been the only option encouraged as a path to high-paying careers. If you’re part of the Gen Z generation and seeking jobs with good benefits and an industry that values diversity in the workplace, the prospects are beyond bright in the sheet metal industry. As earnings in many industries lag, the outlook for construction tech careers continues to climb. And best of all, these are careers that don’t require college.

Through both on-the-job training and hands-on high-tech classroom instruction, apprentices learn in-demand skills that prepare them to meet the demands of the industry. Sheet metal is full of options for people who want to find high-paying jobs that don’t require college. Instead of racking up college debt, they can earn while they learn through skilled trades mentorship as they prepare for well-paid construction jobs; heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) jobs; testing, adjusting and balancing (TAB) jobs; fire life safety jobs and more.

More than 14,000 apprentices are currently learning and working in four- and five-year programs, earning college credits for their work and graduating with a well-defined career path and zero college debt.

Some apprentices take the long route graduating from expensive trade schools or college first with degrees in engineering and more. The direct path to apprenticeships is the swiftest way to learn the skills the industry demands to secure cool jobs, fun jobs, in an industry that makes a difference. You can get a good job without a college degree.

There are plenty of benefits to joining the sheet metal industry. Union membership helps support employees. Health benefits (typically for the entire family) are paid for by employers on the member’s behalf. Pension benefits and 401(k) contributions help with retirement.

To learn more about opportunities in the sheet metal industry, search for a training center near you.