Make Your Mark by Majoring in a Trade
Skilled trades have become increasingly lucrative, as there is more and more need for talent in the many disciplines one could choose to enter. As baby boomers retire and infrastructure proliferates there is an increase in urgency for skilled workers to be emerging from post-secondary trades education. The trades can be approached from many directions, including two year trade specific schools, four year college and/or advanced degree programs emphasizing a specific trade, and endeavors that include community college. It can be challenging to afford post-secondary study, especially in fields that often require unpaid apprenticeships. Foundation support often makes it possible for trade school students to have the critical opportunities and practice to dive into their trade, and get the necessary work experience without having to take other jobs on the side to pay the bills. It is scholarships like these that can provide the leg up for trade school students to pursue the exciting career paths such as these.
Look Around, Opportunities Abound
Below you will find a bounty of opportunity in the form of foundational support and specific scholarship possibilities making up the best in the field. Many of these were created to make-way for populations traditionally marginalized in the trades, filling gaps for groups like women and minorities, as well as people needing a second chance in life not just a high school graduate. You will find trade school scholarships and other opportunities for veterans and people committing to improving the fields of plumbing and HVACR in specific places where there is distinct need. There are many organizations below with the mission of creating life saving practices that include water protection via plumbing, and educating the public about fire sprinklers, as well as best practices regarding safety in the trades. There are also scholarships in the name of innovators and industry greats who have carved out paths for future trades people to learn from the legacies they have passed on technically and by way of memorial foundation support.
The American Fire Sprinkler Association has one main objective, to educate the public about how automatic fire sprinklers save lives. They accomplish this unique mission through various means, including giving workshops and trainings, offering supplemental information to schools, dispelling misunderstandings about fire safety, and helping contractors best implement life-saving techniques and technology.
They also provide wonderful scholarships to trade school students entering the trades which are not based on need, GPA, nor region. This annual scholarship awards $1,000 to each of 5 winners, who are randomly selected from the pool of applicants. AFSA pays the financial assistance award directly to the winner’s accredited trade school or university. For a complete list of acceptable trade schools or institutions, see AFSA’s website.
The mission of American Council for Construction Education is to be a leading global advocate of quality construction education; they also promote, support, and accredit quality construction education trade school programs. They do this through accrediting colleges and universities who want to properly educate professionals in the construction industry, by promoting safe industry standards, and maintain a current list of accreditation procedures and standards for those trade schools or institutions who wish to become accredited.
Much like the Dupree Construction Education Fund and the National Housing Endowment Scholarship, applicants must be accepted in a Masters or PhD construction-related trade school program, in an institution with an ACCE-accredited program. Applicants must provide expenses information and academic history before receiving financial assistance.
For over 30 years, AC Pro has been supplying the U.S. with quality air conditioning products at reasonable prices, and training trades people in the best practices and the latest technology. As an employer of thousands of HVAC specialists and manufacturers, AC Pro believes in the core values of integrity, courtesy, and service, and believes that taking care of its employees is a priority.
As an extension of this belief, AC Pro offers trade school scholarships to military veterans who are entering civilian life determined to excel in a rewarding trades program. According to the scholarship’s mission, hard work and loyalty are characteristics that come naturally to soldiers, and they hope to make those principles natural for tradespeople as well. With their AC Pro Scholarship of $5,000 of financial aid, one Troops to Trades veteran per year, who is involved in an HVAC technical training program, and who shares these core values, will have the opportunity to gain the skills needed to begin a rewarding career outside the uniform.
The American Fire Sprinkler Association (AFSA) has one main objective, to educate the public about how automatic fire sprinklers save lives. They accomplish this unique mission through various means, including giving workshops and trainings, offering supplemental information to schools, dispelling misunderstandings about fire safety, and helping contractors best implement life-saving techniques and technology.
In order to reach this mission across the U.S., in addition to the Second Chance Scholarship, the AFSA offers a high school senior financial assistance scholarship to high school seniors who are planning to enter a trade school program at an accredited college, university, or trade school. The $2,000 scholarship is paid directly to the educational institution, and the student must be enrolled full-time no later than fall semester of the application year. Home-schooled students may apply as long as course of study is equivalent to that of a senior in high school, but AFSA board members and their immediate family are not eligible.
The American Society of Plumbing Engineers is the oldest and biggest community of plumbing industry professionals in world. Beginning in 1964 with a small group in Southern California and growing to over 6,300 members worldwide, this organization provides support for professionals skilled in the design, specification and inspection of plumbing systems, and is committed to the advancement of the field and promoting safety and awareness to the public.
The ASPE offers chapter scholarships to high school seniors and trade school students who are enrolled or want to enroll, to become a plumbing engineer and share the organization’s values. Some of the chapter scholarships are specific to a region or a course of study in a particular trade school program, but many are open to any student who is interested in pursuing plumbing as a profession. The Chicago Chapter scholarship, for example, awards up to 2 students $1,000 each, paid directly to the college or tech school, requires the written scholarship application, 3 letters of reference, and a list of personal activities and community involvement. The winners will be selected by the American Society of Plumbing Engineers Chicago Chapter Board of Directors by December of the application year.
The Association for the Science of HVAC, Refrigeration, and Engineering is a membership organization that that promotes industry excellence and sets industry standards in this field. ASHRAE promotes a sustainable world by elevating the science of heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration with an acute attention to the ways that serving humanity is the number one priority. With nearly 60,000 members from around the world, ASHRAE prides itself on being a leader in pushing the industry standards, through education and system design.
ASHRAE offers 10 different trade school scholarships of varying amounts to students of engineering or pre-engineering. Scholarships are awarded to undergraduate students who are enrolled full time in a post-secondary school and who are achieving a Bachelor of Science or Engineering degree in a course of study in preparation for the HVAC/R industry. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA and/or a class standing of no less than the top 30%.
The Associated General Contractors of America is a membership organization advocating for the industry priorities shared by many contractors and similar fields in the U.S. Through lobbying and a nationwide network of regional chapters, AGC has its finger on the pulse of the things that matter most to contractor professionals, and work to hold lawmakers accountable to the needs of these workers.
Between members, supporters, and chapters the AGC Foundation has built an endowment that is able to award over 100 deserving undergraduate and graduate students to opportunity to be financially supported. Criteria like commitment to the industry, summer or part-time work in construction, future goals, and academic success are what go into the decision process for which trade school students are recognized by AGC. Since the foundation began in 1970, over $10 million dollars have been received by over 4,000 individual trade school scholarships.
Since 1981, the Foundation of the Association of Energy Engineers has been encouraging professionals to further their education and enhance the knowledge in the fields of energy engineering and energy management. With the technological advancements growing at such a rapid pace, there is no way professionals could keep up with best practices without a little assistance from an organization like AEE.
With 4 different trade school scholarships to choose from, and additional opportunities through regional chapters, AEE Foundation has what you need, if you are advancing your energy degree. The CWEEL Scholarships are 2 different awards, $1,000 each, awarded to the two most outstanding female nominees; the William Mashburn Scholarship is worth $2,000 and is awarded to the second most outstanding nominee; the Al Thumann Scholarship, worth $2,000 is awarded to the most outstanding nominee; and finally, the AEE Scholarships, $1,000 are awarded in ranking order to as many applicants until the fiscal year runs out. To apply for these trade school scholarships, the applicant must apply through their local AEE chapter, unless there is no local chapter, in which case they must apply through the national website. Applicants must be familiar with the FAEE Constitution and Bylaws and the FAEE Scholarship procedure, located for download on their website.
The Automotive Hall of Fame began as a group of men, called the “Automobile Old Timers”, determined to not lose the memory of the beauty and nostalgia of early automobiles, to the fast-paced, technology driven automobiles of the future. In 1939, the old timers met near the New York World’s Fair as Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford were unveiling a glimpse of the future and started a joint mission to perpetuate the memories of the pioneering automobiles they had grown to love. Now, the automobile hall of fame is located not far from Detroit, The Motor City, and attracts visitors from all over the world.
Even though the old way is most important to the old timers, the automobile hall of fame recognizes how crucial it is to support new and innovative ways of thinking. They offer the education scholarship as a way to give back to the automotive community. Applicants must be enrolled full time in an accredited trade school or community college pursuing a trade school degree in an automotive field, and have a 3.0 or higher GPA. Awards are paid directly to the trade school to be applied to tuition and fees.
The international franchise giant, The Dwyer Group, owns many of the franchise trades companies that have become household names, from Mr. Rooter to Molly Maids. Identifying that franchise ownership is the smartest first-move an entrepreneur can make, founder Don Dwyer began identifying a path toward success through self-motivation and his live R.I.C.H. philosophy (respect, integrity, customer satisfaction, and having fun). This philosophy has carried the company through many ups and downs in the economy and given them an opportunity to give back to the communities they are committed to seeing thrive most, tradespeople.
With a commitment to excellence in these franchise fields, as well as commitment to tradespeople who often go overlooked in their field, the Dwyer Group offers scholarships to women in trades, to be paid to the accredited trades institution of her choice. This $1,500 scholarship is awarded twice per year, to a total of 6 women per year. The winners will have acquired two letters of recommendation and will have submitted a 1,000 word essay by March 31 or November 15, in letter or video format, on the topic of how the scholarship will support her career in trades. Each application is valid for only one entry date. The trade school scholarship instructions specify that winners are preferred to have completed at least one year in a full-time professional trades job or be actively pursuing a degree or certification in a trade supported by Dwyer Group (this list can be found on their website). Candidates will be evaluated based upon financial need, previous work, and passion to excel in their profession prior to submitting vocational school scholarship the application.
The Federation of American Consumers and Travelers is a not-for-profit membership discount organization that strives to offer its members an efficient experience accessing health care and medical services, financial support for college for members and their immediate families, insurance, and travel, all at a discounted price. FACT currently serves nearly 500,000 Americans nationwide, delivering everything from healthcare discounts to free road maps. They offer over $75,000 through their Educational Grant Program annually.
The FACT trade school and technical school scholarship is awarded four times per year to applicants who are members of FACT or whose parents or immediate family are members. The application pool is open year round and applications will be reviewed for the next round of awards anytime of the year it is received. Eligible to apply are vocational school students who will be enrolled in a trade school or tech school in the upcoming fall semester and awarded funds will be paid directly to the educational institution by FACT for tuition and books and approved related expenses. A FACT scholarship student must maintain a “C” GPA (2.0) in order to remain eligible for the funds.
The Atlanta-based cosmetic dental office, Flax Dental, has been a leader in providing patients with a perfect smile in the Atlanta Metro area. With excellent credentials, all of the staff at Flax Dental exceed their required continuing education credits annually. It is a part of the expectation of excellence and the commitment to education at Flax Dental.
As an extension of this philosophy of excellence and education, Flax dental offers a $1,000 trade school scholarship to Georgia High School seniors who intend to enroll in a 2 year community college or trade school in any field. Applicants are asked to write a 400-600 word essay on the topic of “Why My Teacher Makes Me Smile”, highlighting a current or former teacher who has touched the life of the applicant in a meaningful way. A 3.0 or higher GPA is required as well as a short, video-recorded interview upon selection.
As a leader in the plumbing contracting world, Milwaukee-based Blau Plumbing company founder Frank J. Blau Jr. is now a leader in the contractor mentoring and philanthropic world. With an emphasis on health and safety for tradespeople, Blau travels the world helping contractors with setting the right selling price and incorporating flat rate pricing. After having started this vocational school scholarship in 1992, Blau has been most proud of his ability to change the lives of contractors across the country.
Permanently funded by the Nextstar Legacy Foundation, the Frank J. Blau Jr. scholarship is intended for trade school students pursuing a four-year degree in business management, mechanical engineering, marketing or other business function related to running an HVAC, plumbing, or electrical business. This $7,000 trade school scholarship is awarded to one outstanding scholar annually, but dispersed at two different times throughout the academic year–September and January, to help specifically with tuition and beginning of semester related expenses. All high school seniors are encouraged to apply.
In the home improvement industry, there is no bigger name than the Home Depot. Founded in 1978 with a mission to create the biggest hardware and home improvement superstores in the U.S., the Home Depot has held the value of giving back to the community since its very first two stores’ grand openings in Atlanta, Georgia. Through The Home Depot Foundation, this company has supported disaster relief efforts, honored veterans, sent their own workers off to college, or vocational school and partnered with organizations like Habitat for Humanity to support their mission to provide housing and homeownership to the most vulnerable members of our society.
With the Home Depot Trade School Scholarships, the foundation hopes to continue that initial, central goal of giving back to the communities who make their work possible. Available to Home Depot Associates and their children who have worked for 1 year at the Home Depot, this trade school scholarship awards 1,000 vocational school students $2,500 each, and award winners may reapply the following years as well. All high school seniors are encouraged to apply.
Jill Reed was an innovative marketing professional, assisting many home service providing companies. In 1997 RedClick Marketing, a marketing agency and call center for heating, cooling, and electrical contractors. At RedClick, Jill helped her clients find what worked, what brought in business, and what delivered a profit.
After her untimely death, Marty and Carol Donnelly, founded the $2,000 Jill Reed Memorial trade school Scholarship, specifically for women who are entering trade school programs, vocational school programs, or marketing programs with an interest in working in the trades. One of Jill’s most important legacies is to assist with women’s desires to make the most of themselves, while advancing the field of marketing the trades professions on the internet.
Jim Potts was a friend to all. Nicknamed Buddha, Jim was a highly decorated veteran, he served two tours in Vietnam and has received numerous awards including a purple heart. After military service he spent his time mentoring and bettering the lives of contractors, teaching practical financial skills and business sense for those in the trades.
The Jim “Buddha” Potts Memorial Veterans Scholarship is one of two Troops to Trades Scholarships offered by the Nextstar Media Group Foundation. This vocational school application is for veterans, transitioning military personnel, National Guard and Reserve members looking for a new career in the plumbing, heating, cooling or electrical residential service industry. All high school seniors are encouraged to apply.
Master plumber John J. MacGregor was a union-trained plumber with a dream to start a family owned and operated plumbing company, based on honesty and customer satisfaction. When the time was just right, he and one apprentice started MacGregor Plumbing Company in rural Michigan in 1962, after relocating from his hometown of Detroit. John was a mentor and supporter of children with disabilities. He took great efforts to train young people of all backgrounds in the trades.
The John J. MacGregor vocational school Scholarship is one of four donor named scholarships for students in the trades. These are awarded to students based on skill and merit and can be accessed through the scholarship’s application portal on the Nextstar Foundation website. The joint application process will give the applicant access to all of the Nextstar scholarships, including the John J. MacGregor Scholarship. All high school students are encouraged to apply.
The Merchant Maritime Exchange Scholarship Fund was developed to further the fields of maritime affairs and International trades, by supporting vocational school students who are on an educational path towards excellence in related disciplines. The applicant must be enrolled in a four or two year post-secondary program with a focus on Maritime Affairs and/ or International Trade. They must have completed enough credit hours to be technically in their third year of study if in a four year institution.
Applicants for the Merchants Exchange of Portland Scholarship must complete their application online. Included in the application must be a letter of recommendation from a direct supervisor or professor, and a transcript exhibiting an academic record of a 2.5 GPA or above. The amount of scholarship funds is based on merit and score level. The award can be used for books, tuitions and additional vocational school program related fees. All high school students interested in technical school should to apply.
Through innovative and effective programs that further education, training and research in the residential construction industry, the National Housing Endowment is a non-profit organization that impact the construction industry more than any other in a positive way. By reaching out to industry leaders and giants, the endowment has received over $20 million in donations, which they use to make the construction industry safer, more knowledgeable and more accessible for women and other often overlooks members of the field.
With the NAHB Professional Women in Building Strategies for Success Scholarship, the National Association for Home Builders through the endowment has offered scholarships to all kinds of students to support in the kind of education this very important industry needs. NAHB Professional Women in Building Council former national president Deborah Ferland and Austin Ferland initiated the Fund in 2001, as a way to reach out to women who may not have as much support in the field as others. Applicants must maintain a 3.0 GPA and be enrolled full time in a building or construction related vocational school program. Preference will be given to women and to current members of a student chapter of the National Association of Home Builders. High school students interested in trade school education are encouraged to apply.
The National Association of Women in Construction began offering scholarships in 1963 through their Founders Scholarship fund to promote and assist with women in construction fields, advancing their education beyond the most basic. Having grown out of a small group of women who founded Women in Construction of Fort Worth in 1955, today, NAWIC members can engage in opportunities for professional development, education, networking, leadership training, public service and more, in regional chapters across the U.S.
With two national scholarships, and many regional chapter scholarships to choose from, women who are pursuing degrees in construction fields should consider applying for these helpful, vocational school scholarship opportunities. The two regional scholarships are the undergraduate scholarship and the construction trades scholarship. Both of these require applicants to be enrolled full time in a construction related field. The undergraduate scholarship requires U.S.-based applicants only, and a 3.0 GPA or higher for consideration.
The plumbing-heating-cooling industry is dependent on new talent to continue to flourish as a highly skilled and viable profession. The PHCC Educational Foundation has the intention of supporting students in the above trades to meet their educational goals and be successful in their field. Forty-one scholarships are awarded annually, including to vocational school students in the online eLearning program. Apprentices whose companies pay their tuition are still encouraged to apply, and such winners will not only have the sense of accomplishment from winning, but their tuition costs will be offset and, therefore, benefit their parent company.
Eligible applicants must be working full time in an HVAC/R or plumbing apprentice program that is part of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors-National-Association, and working with a licensed contractor. They also must be currently enrolled in or in the process of enrolling in a full-time degree program at a trade school, or accredited two year community college to study a discipline related to plumbing, heating, or cooling. Required is also a letter from a high school principal or vocational school administrator, and a letter of recommendation from a member of the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors-National-Association. High school students interested in trade school education are encouraged to apply.
Shear Comfort does two things extremely well. The first is making the highest quality auto seat covers on the market today, with automotive-grade materials custom-designed to fit car, truck, or SUV seats perfectly. Their commitment to industry excellence is impressive, but their commitment to helping students excel in the automotive industry is even more admirable.
The second thing they do well is offer a great scholarship, twice per year, to students pursuing a degree in automotive engineering or auto mechanics. Applicants must answer the essay prompt: “What will be the largest technological development in the automotive industry within the next 5-10 years and how do you plan to be a part of it?” in 300-600 words. Applicant must be enrolled in a vocational school for automotive engineering or a similar field and be able to show proof of vocational school enrollment if necessary. High school students in need of financial assistance are encouraged to apply.
The mission of American Council for Construction Education is to be a leading global advocate of quality construction technical college education; and to promote, support, and accredit quality construction education programs. They do this through accrediting colleges and universities who want to properly educate professionals in the construction industry, by promoting safe industry standards, and maintain a current list of accreditation procedures and standards for those vocational school institutions who wish to become accredited.
Much like the American Council for Construction Education Dupree Construction Education Fund Scholarship, applicants of the NHE scholarship must be accepted in a Masters or PhD construction-related program, in an institution with an ACCE-accredited program. Applicants are expected to become faculty at an ACCE-accredited vocational school program or community colleges. A documented history of experience working in the U.S. residential construction industry is also required. High school students in need of financial assistance are encouraged to apply.
The Women in HVAC/R organization was designed to break down barriers in the field for women, and support them to be successful in this historically male dominated field. The industry is currently estimating a need of almost 100,000 new skilled employees, and organizations like this one are encouraging women to be the frontrunners. WHVACR offers three $2,000 scholarships annually including one for a Technical College or Trade School, one for a Bachelor’s Degree program at a four year college, and lastly, one for an online education program that covers heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration.
All of the WHVAC/R scholarships are open to women in high school or post-secondary, preparing to enter the HVAC/R field by one of the above means. All applicants must be able to prove a GPA of 2.0 or greater with a submission of official transcripts. There are a series of essay questions pertaining to personal long term goals, the importance of entering a vocational school field like this one in today’s world, and what was the motivation to seek a career such as this one. All of these short essays must be accompanied by a cover letter, and submitted via USPS mail or email. High school students in need of financial assistance are encouraged to apply.
The Refrigeration School is an over 50 year old trade school based in Phoenix, AZ. While the majority of their programs offer only on campus vocational school instruction, RSI has an affiliation agreement with The University of Phoenix and offers hybrid opportunities for some programs. RSI is a very focused trade school; it is regionally accredited and offers select programs for students motivated to work in the trades.
The Women in Skilled Trades Scholarship program provides financial assistance to female students at RSI, who have demonstrated financial need. All female vocational school students who are enrolled or will be enrolling in The Refrigeration vocational School in Phoenix, AZ are eligible to apply for this scholarship, and the award date is dependent on the applicant’s enrollment date, but applications are accepted year-round. High school students in need of financial assistance are encouraged to apply.