No College Degree? Try One of These 5 Major Company’s Apprenticeship Programs To Get Your Foot in the Door

There’s a direct correlation between higher education and higher pay — with each new degree level comes a bigger average salary. But if you didn’t go to college, and you don’t have the cash or the years to do so, there are alternative routes into the professional world — including the high-skill, high-pay tech jobs that almost always require a college degree.

One of those routes is a modernized version of a very old concept — an apprenticeship.

Some of the biggest companies in the world offer imaginative and exciting apprenticeship opportunities that pay competitive salaries and benefits while providing real-world, on-the-job training. The companies that offer them are among the biggest names in Silicon Valley and beyond.

Here are the best of the bunch. 


Google offers apprenticeships at its offices in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Austin, Atlanta and Sunnyvale, California. Tracks include IT, data analytics, digital marketing, UX design, software engineering and project management. IT is a 12-month program, but the rest run for 20 months.

All apprentices accepted into any program will receive on-the-job training as well as outside training through partner organizations. When they complete the program, they’ll be awarded a credential that’s nationally recognized and certified by the Department of Labor. Some tracks also award a Google Career Certificate.

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All apprenticeships are salaried positions that come with benefits and other perks, and Google pitches its apprenticeships specifically to people who are looking to change careers.


Salesforce calls its apprenticeship program “Futureforce,” as in, it’s preparing the workforce of the future.

It’s not just a marketing slogan.

The company has partnerships with workforce development organizations across the world, which allows it to recruit apprentices from unique and underserved populations, like refugees, people with disabilities, and disadvantaged urban youth. Among them is Year Up, which offers apprenticeships, internships,and other opportunities to low-income achievers — more than 250 Year Up recruits have gone through the Futureforce pipeline. In Chicago and the Bay Area, Salesforce partners with Genesys Works.


LinkedIn’s apprenticeship program is called REACH, a multiyear commitment for technical training and mentorship. Most of the program is dedicated to on-the-job training, which can last for between one and five years, and participants will move forward through the program with teammates at the direction of their mentors.

The program is structured into apprenticeship levels, with participants gaining more responsibility and self-direction with each level they achieve until they are promoted out of apprenticeship during the final level. In the first level, they train for roles like a technical writer, technical trainer and technical services analyst. In the next level, they train for positions like data scientist, mobile engineer and user interface engineer.

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The Microsoft Leap Apprenticeship Program is designed to help “unconventional talent” find “unconventional entry points” into the tech field. The 16-week program, which is specifically meant for people who already have a base foundation in technical training, combines hands-on engineering work with classroom training. Those who are accepted will work with real Microsoft teams on real Microsoft products like Office365, Xbox, Bing and Azure.

Prospective Leap apprentices must select a pathway before they are accepted into the program. Pathways include cybersecurity engineer, data analyst, business program manager, software engineer, technical program manager, technical support engineer and user experience designer.


The IBM Apprenticeship Program includes tracks like hardware design technician, software engineer, cloud support, mainframe system verification tester and systems support. The program is designed for people without advanced degrees to get paid while learning new skills, collaborating with fellow apprentices and following the guidance of mentors.

The program is part of IBM’s “New Collar” initiative, which the company launched to try to fill workforce skills gaps in the field of computer technology.

Apprentices earn digital credentials when they reach milestones as they progress through the program, and each apprentice follows a personalized roadmap based on their skills, which they develop with their mentors and managers. All IBM apprenticeships, which last about 12 months, are recognized by the Department of Labor and all graduates receive a nationally recognized credential.

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