Mike Rowe’s scholarship for trade school


  • Mike Rowe is offering scholarships to trade school for the fifth year in a row.
  • Trade school and vocational courses train you in a specific occupation so you can get started in a well-paying job as soon as you graduate.
  • Most trade school programs last one or two years. College is usually a four-year commitment that is significantly more expensive than trade school or community college.

Mike Rowe, the former host of the show Dirty Jobs and narrator of The Deadliest Catch, is an outspoken advocate of just digging in and getting to work. He formed a charitable foundation, mikeroweWORKS, and one of its functions is to award scholarships for trade school and community college students who plan to work in the trades.

This is the fifth year of Mike Rowe’s trade show scholarship, with over $5 million given out since Rowe started it.

This is the fifth year for the scholarship drive, with over $5 million given out since Rowe started it. This year he announced he has approximately $500,000 available for scholarships with the goal to train people for skilled jobs that already exist.

Past winners include Jacob Nohai, who is training for heavy equipment operation, and Antoinette Jackson, who is studying general automotive in community college.


To be eligible for a scholarship, you must:

  • Be a high school senior, graduate, or GED recipient.
  • Be enrolled or plan to enroll in vocational school.
  • Be planning to graduate after December 1, 2018.
  • Sign Rowe’s S.W.E.A.T. Pledge.
  • Have two references, neither of which can be family members.
  • Submit an essay about why you want to work in the trades and what makes you worthy of the scholarship.
  • Make a brief video that helps make your case.

The scholarship is open to anyone meeting these requirements. But why would you need a scholarship?

Typical Trade School Costs

Although trade school and vocational classes cost significantly less than a four-year college degree, the tuition ranges from $1,000 to $30,000. The cost depends on the location of the school, whether it is public or private, and your course of study.
The average cost of trade school is $33,000. The average cost of a college or university education is $127,000. Click To Tweet In comparison, the average cost of a bachelor’s degree in the United States is $127,000. It takes four or more years to complete, and the average dropout rate is around 40 percent.

  • The average cost of trade school is $33,000. The average student debt load is $10,000.
  • The average cost of university is $127,000. The average student debt load is $29,900 ($36,327 with interest).
  • Students at two-year institutions who received federal aid got an average of $5,070 in grants and scholarship assistance, whereas university students are often saddled with student loans.

Since trade school trains you for an existing job and you are usually able to find work directly after graduating, going into the trades can be a more attractive and realistic choice for those who want to support themselves quickly.

There is a slight difference between community college and trade school, although Rowe’s scholarship applies to either one.

  • Trade school programs focus on skills needed for a specific occupation. Your coursework is streamlined to get you into the workforce quickly. It includes hands-on training as well as a potential pathway to apprenticeship.
  • Community college vocational programs include more general education classes and provide a well-rounded education. Such programs tend to be more affordable than trade school but require a more substantial time commitment. Also, fewer than 40 percent of students who started a two-year college program in 2011 completed it by 2017.

There’s nothing wrong with a university degree, but it isn’t for everyone. Instead of taking a gap year to decide what to do with your life, you (or a young person you know) may want to join the trades. There are plenty of jobs waiting, and entry-level salaries are rising.

To apply for a scholarship from mikeroweWORKS, check out the foundation’s web page or watch this video for more information.

Sign up. Stay fueled.