Vocational scholarships offer free financial aid for students who’ve chosen career-specific training at trade schools instead of the traditional four-year curriculum. Attending a vocational school is a fast-track option for specialized skill development and hands-on apprenticeship in a certain industry, such as cosmetology, construction, manufacturing, or allied health.
Today’s industry is facing a critical shortage of vocational skill workers since 53 percent are at least 45 years old. Retiring baby boomers are expected to leave 31 million U.S. trades jobs vacant by 2020. For example, BLS predicts that employment of electricians will grow much faster-than-average by 14 percent for 85,900 new openings. Vocational diplomas or certificates can take anywhere from six to 24 months, so prepare for tuition by applying for some of the following vocational scholarships.
1. Andrew Piech Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: June 9th
The Albuquerque Community Foundation manages 18 funds for New Mexicans, including the $2,200 Andrew Piech Memorial Scholarship that honors the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) grad who passed in 2010. It’s intended for in-state graduating high school seniors who are pursuing certificates in automotive technology at public or nonprofit vocational schools. Aspiring ASE-certified car mechanics must submit proof of enrollment, at least one reference, and a personal essay.
Andrew Piech Memorial Scholarship
624 Tijeras Avenue NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
2. APWU Vocational Scholarship Program
Deadline: March 31st
The American Postal Workers Union hosts the Vocational Scholarship Program yearly to award $3,000 to five deserving high school seniors who will matriculate full-time at an accredited community college or trade school. Applications are reserved for the children or stepchildren of active, retired, or deceased APWU members. Funding is renewable if recipients maintain a minimum “B” average in vocational training courses like real estate, dental assisting, culinary arts, and massage therapy.
APWU Vocational Scholarship Program
1300 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
3. Beauty Changes Lives Education Scholarship
Deadline: May 8th or October 30th
Sponsored by CosmoProf, the Beauty Changes Lives (BCL) Foundation promotes its “Licensed to Create” initiative by awarding a $5,000 scholarship biannually to students training to enter the salon and spa industry at AACS-member vocational schools. Future stylists must have completed less than 50 percent of an approved U.S. cosmetology, hairdressing, or esthetics program. Record a three-minute YouTube video discussing your plans to change people’s lives.
Beauty Changes Lives Education Scholarship
P.O. Box 7174
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
4. Bernard E. Dillon Vocational Skills Scholarship
Deadline: March 8th
Named for the Foundation Board’s first President, the American Military Retirees Association gifts the Bernard E. Dillon Vocational Skills Scholarship for $1,000 to five post-high school students pursuing vocational or technical training. Eligible winners will be current AMHRA members, their spouses, legally dependent children, or grandchildren who are enrolling full-time at accredited U.S. trade schools. Selection is primarily based on applicants’ scholastic record, leadership capacity, and good citizenship.
Bernard E. Dillon Vocational Skills Scholarship
5436 Peru Street #1
Plattsburgh, NY 12901
5. Charles F. Hiley, Jr. Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: May 1st
The Plumbing, Heating, Cooling Contractors (PHCC) Educational Foundation administers 41 vocational scholarships yearly, such as the $5,000 Charles F. Hiley, Jr. Memorial Scholarship. Suitable applicants will be enrolled full-time with 12+ semester hours in certificate or associate degree programs at accredited U.S. institutions with majors like plumbing, HVACR installation, construction management, or mechanical CAD design. Also consider the $2,500 Anne Williams or $1,500 RIGID Tool Company Scholarships.
Charles F. Hiley, Jr. Memorial Scholarship
180 S. Washington Street, Suite 100
Falls Church, VA 22046
6. Detroit Diesel Skilled Trades Scholarships
Deadline: April 22nd
Valued at $2,500 each, the Detroit Diesel Skilled Trades Scholarships are presented annually by the Tooele Education Foundation to three graduating high school seniors in Utah who will enter a vocational school or applied technology college this Fall. Future tradesmen and women must train full-time for skilled trades like manufacturing, machine repair, and electrical maintenance with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Submitting an essay describing your place in the 21st century workforce is also required.
Detroit Diesel Skilled Trades Scholarships
301 W. Vine Street
Tooele, UT 84074
7. Donald J. Beneteau Scholarship
Deadline: February 15th
The American Welding Society Foundation provides 37 national scholarships for AWS members, including the $2,500 Donald J. Beneteau Scholarship. It’s designed for U.S. or Canadian citizens with a high school diploma or GED who are pursuing full- or part-time vocational training in welding technology, materials science, metallurgy, or related fields with an overall 3.0 GPA or greater. Other vocational scholarships are the Peter McCausland-Airgas Scholarship and John Deere Scholarship.
Donald J. Beneteau Scholarship
8669 NW 36 Street, Suite 130
Miami, FL 33166
(800) 443-9353 ext. 212
8. Floyd B. Heimer Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: April 15th
Celebrating its 125th anniversary, the Maryland State Firemen’s Association (MSFA) confers the Floyd B. Heimer Memorial Scholarship for $2,000 to fund post-secondary study in fire science, fire protection engineering, or EMS at accredited colleges or vocational schools. Applicants must be Maryland high school graduates or GED recipients, volunteer with an in-state fire or rescue company, enroll at least half-time, and maintain an acceptable GPA above 2.5.
Floyd B. Heimer Memorial Scholarship
29132 Superior Circle
Easton, MD 21601
9. Garmin-Jerry Smith Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: February 15th
The Garmin-Jerry Smith Memorial Scholarship is a one-time, $1,000 award offered by the Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) Educational Foundation. Interested high school seniors must plan to enroll full-time in an FAA-approved vocational school to study avionics, aircraft maintenance, or related aerospace fields with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher. Students specifically at Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology could earn the $35,000 Les Nichols Memorial Scholarship.
Garmin-Jerry Smith Memorial Scholarship
3570 NE Ralph Powell Road
Lee’s Summit, MO 64064
10. Imagine America Foundation Scholarships
Deadline: December 31st
Since 1998, the Imagine America Foundation has bestowed five $1,000 scholarships each year upon graduating high school seniors in the U.S. and Puerto Rico who are pursuing vocational skills training at partnering career colleges. Qualified recipients must be accepted for full-time study, show technical promise with a 2.5 GPA or higher, have unmet financial need, and engage in community service. Adults over age 19 and military veterans also have aid options.
Imagine America Foundation Scholarships
12001 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 203
Reston, VA 20191
11. James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: March 31st
The James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship Fund will distribute $1.4 million total in 2017 to honor the late General President who led North America’s Strongest Union for 14 years. The Vocational Programs Scholarship specifically awards $2,000 to the sons, daughters, or legal dependents of Teamsters who will attend accredited technical colleges for non-baccalaureate degrees or certificates. Applications must include proof of membership status, a personal essay, and two character references.
James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship
JRHMSF, 25 Louisiana Ave NW
Washington, DC 20001
12. Jill Reed Women in Trades Scholarship
Deadline: March 15th
Partnering with A.O. Smith, the NexStar Legacy Foundation awards the Jill Reed Women in Trades Scholarship to honor the Elizabethtown College grad who founded RedClick Marketing in 1997 for PHCE home service providers. Annually, women receive $2,000 to fund vocational school tuition to build marketing careers in the plumbing, HVAC, or electrical industries. Donors also support the Troops to Trades Scholarship, Technician/Service Provider Scholarship, and John MacGregor Scholarship.
Jill Reed Women in Trades Scholarship
101 East 5th Street, Suite 2100
St. Paul, MN 55101
13. JoAnn Link Hetzel Vocational Scholarship
Deadline: April 1st
North Dakota Dollars for Scholars, an affiliate of Scholarship America, administers the JoAnn Link Hetzel Vocational Scholarship to award $1,000 to in-state students with a cumulative GPA above 2.5 who are attending trade schools full-time. Preference is given to technicians studying mechanics, welding, surveying, or electrical construction as well as employees of local entities like Falkirk Mining Company. Applicants must update their file with financial info and two references.
JoAnn Link Hetzel Vocational Scholarship
600 East Boulevard Avenue, 10th Floor
Bismarck, ND 58505
14. Kathern F. Gruber Scholarship Program
Deadline: April 21st
Since World War II, the Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) has provided two vocational scholarships, the Kathern F. Gruber and Thomas H. Miller Scholarship programs. The former awards $2,000 to six dependent children, grandchildren, or spouses of blinded U.S. Armed Forces members with central visual acuity of 20/200 or less. Students should be enrolling full-time at an accredited business, secretarial, or vocational training school with good academic standing.
Kathern F. Gruber Scholarship Program
125 N. West Street, 3rd Floor
Alexandria, VA 22314
15. Lincoln Electric Company Scholarship
Deadline: February 8th
Through the National FFA Organization, Lincoln Electric Company awards a one-time scholarship valued at $6,670 to cover an advanced 15-week vocational course pertaining to safe welding processes. Recipients receive 400 hours of hands-on instruction at their plant in Cleveland, Ohio, to master pipefitting, plasma arc cutting, alloy hardfacing, GTAW welding, and more. Other FFA vocational scholarships include the Mike Hopper Memorial and Cooperative Credit Company programs.
Lincoln Electric Company Scholarship
P.O. Box 68960
6060 FFA Drive
Indianapolis, IN 46268
16. Medallion Fund Vocational Scholarships
The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation (NHCF) in Concord offers the Medallion Fund Vocational Scholarships for $500 to $2,500 to “Granite State” residents who are enrolling in accredited, short-term vocational programs for high-need trades like plumbing, heating, manufacturing, machining, and automotive repair. Eligible candidates who exhibit drive, a clear career vision, and financial need can apply anytime because award decisions are made every six weeks.
Medallion Fund Vocational Scholarships
37 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301
17. MN Masonic Charities Vocational Scholarships
Deadline: March 1st
Named an AFP Outstanding Philanthropic Organization in 2014, Minnesota Masonic Charities has donated more than $42 million total through six student funds, including the Vocational Scholarships. Offering $2,000 over two years, these merit-based awards are granted to 20 Minnesota high school seniors who will pursue associate degrees or certificates at accredited community colleges or trade schools after graduation. Having a Masonic affiliation isn’t required, but a minimum 2.75 GPA is preferred.
MN Masonic Charities Vocational Scholarships
11501 Masonic Home Drive
Bloomington, MN 55437
18. National Insulator Association Scholarships
Deadline: 15 days after enrollment
Ranging from $500 to $2,000 apiece, the National Insulator Association Scholarships fall into the Academic and Vocational categories to support U.S. residents who are pursuing careers for the generation or distribution of electrical energy. Eligible vocational students must attend an accredited institution for full-time, credit-based technical training. Attaching a maximum 300-word essay addressing how your career goals align with the NIA Mission and insulator hobby is also necessary.
National Insulator Association Scholarships
8061 S.E. Helen Terrace
Hobe Sound, FL 33455
19. Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship
Deadline: May 2nd or October 31st
Started in 2011, the Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship offers 15 one-time awards of $1,000 apiece from the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society biannually. PTK members in good standing must be taking 6+ credits at an accredited community college for an associate degree or vocational certificate. Other eligibility criteria requires graduating within 18 months of application, posting a minimum 3.0 GPA overall, and experiencing an unanticipated financial obstacle like loss of income.
Oberndorf Lifeline to Completion Scholarship
1625 Eastover Drive
Jackson, MS 39211
20. Ray and Gertrude Marshall Scholarship
Deadline: May 15th
The American Culinary Federation (ACF) Education Foundation began the Ray and Gertrude Marshall Scholarship for presenting $500 to $1,000 to exemplary students at accredited U.S. vocational schools who are training for culinary or pastry arts. Appropriate applicants will possess a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or greater, be ACFEF registered apprentices, have completed at least one semester, volunteer for food service industry activities, and attach two reference letters.
Ray and Gertrude Marshall Scholarship
180 Center Place Way
St. Augustine, FL 32095
21. SEMA Memorial Automotive Scholarship
Deadline: March 1st
The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Memorial Scholarship provides $2,000 to $5,000 yearly to U.S. citizens who are enrolled full-time in accreditation vocational programs for the automotive industry with a minimum 2.5 GPA. One lucky student at Ohio Technical College will receive full-tuition coverage for $29,400 too. Finishing 25+ credits in accepted academic majors like auto body/collision repair, engineering, manufacturing, motorsports, supply chain, transportation, and industrial design is required.
SEMA Memorial Automotive Scholarship
1575 S. Valley Vista Drive
Diamond Bar, CA 91765
22. Singerman-Nosseck Memorial Scholarship
Deadline: May 1st
Worth $1,000, the Singerman-Nosseck Memorial Scholarship is granted yearly by the National Council of Jewish Women Los Angeles (NCJW-LA) to support female students who are enrolling at California vocational schools. Eligible ladies must be developing marketable skills from on-site or online trade certificates, such as dental assisting, massage therapy, aircraft maintenance, nail technician, or welding. Applications are only accepted from legal residents of Greater Los Angeles, including Ventura, Orange, and Riverside counties.
Singerman-Nosseck Memorial Scholarship
543 N. Fairfax Avenue
Los Angeles CA 90036
23. Taylor Opportunity Program for Students
Deadline: October 29th
Within the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) offers the Tech Award to cover tuition at in-state vocational schools that don’t offer bachelor’s degrees. Eligibility criteria includes holding a minimum high school GPA of 2.5, finishing 17 Tech Core units, scoring at least 17 on the ACT, matriculating for 24+ credits per academic year, and meeting Louisiana residency stipulations.
Taylor Opportunity Program for Students
602 North Fifth Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
24. The de Moya Foundation Vocational Scholarship
Deadline: April 15th
The de Moya Foundation sponsors the Vocational Scholarship to gift $3,000 per year to Florida residents who have a documented disability, such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and cerebral palsy. Funding can be applied for full-time tuition at in-state technical colleges for vocational certificates related to construction like masonry, carpentry, HVAC, plumbing, diesel mechanics, and welding. Please submit your IEP, transcripts showing a 3.0 GPA or higher, and two academic recommendations.
The de Moya Foundation Vocational Scholarship
95 Merrick Way, 3rd Floor
Coral Gables, FL 33134
25. Yorba Linda Woman’s Club Scholarships
Deadline: April 7th
Founded in 1912, the Yorba Linda Woman’s Club provides multiple $2,000 Academic and $2,000 Vocational Scholarships each year to graduating seniors in Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District. Eligible applicants must be California residents from zip codes 92806 to 92887, pursue higher education at an accredited vocational school this Fall, certify a minimum 2.5 GPA overall, actively engage in community service, and write an essay titled “Your Time is Your Gift to Others.”
Yorba Linda Woman’s Club Scholarships
P.O. Box 91
Yorba Linda, CA 92885
The United States has more than 300 vocational schools that cost a fraction of their four-year counterparts. According to the U.S. News, vocational certificates have an average total cost of $33,000, which is less than the mean yearly tuition at private universities. Several skilled trades also provide a higher starting salary than liberal arts and social science majors. Forbes placed elevator repairer and transportation inspector as the top-paid trades with average wages of $73,560 and $65,770 respectively.
Technical colleges may not have as many financial aid resources, but students can receive these 25 vocational scholarships and Pell or FSEOG Grants for tuition.