The American Welding Society Foundation will award more than $1.5 million in scholarships in 2021, and the deadline to apply for most National, District, and Section Scholarships is March 1.  Here’s some advice on how to make your application the best possible.   

The Essay Questions 

The Scholarship Selection Committee is going to use three essays as the primary component to evaluate your worthiness for an AWS Scholarship. Here are the three essayrequired on the master application, and some tips on how to make them great: 

Personal Statement 

This is where you describe your background so the reviewer can learn about who you really are.  You’ll want to discuss your life experiences that led you to pursue a career in the welding industry.  You’ll also want to provide examples of leadership, problem-solving, organizational skills, and any other traits that make you an exceptional student and someone a company would want to hire.  Also use this section as an opportunity to describe participation in class, campus, or outside organizations – and definitely mention any involvement you may have with American Welding Society Sections or Student Chapters! 

Do you have any work or other experience related to welding or allied technologies?  

If you have previously held a welding job, or have welded before, here’s your chance to brag about your welding chops!  Describe the specific jobs you worked on, the processes you used, and any qualifications or certifications you received. 

But what if you don’t have any previous welding experience? – Don’t worry!  Many applicants do not, and that’s why they are going to welding school, of course.  You can provide details about any previous job you’ve had – or any experience, really – that you think will contribute to acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to be a successful welding professional. 

What are your career objectives?  

You know you want to weld, or work in the welding field, but you also need to decide where your passion lies and what kind of position you most desire.  Use this essay to describe your dream job, and your plan to achieve that dream.  Think of industries that most excite you, and the type of work you’d like to do each day.  Most application reviewers work in the welding industry, and they want to see individuals that show true motivation and excitement to start a career in welding. 

Not sure what type of welding job most interests you?  Learn more about the many welding career opportunities available in this broad industry here. 

Other Things You Need to Apply for AWS Scholarships 

There are a few other components of the scholarship application you’ll need to complete – references, transcript, costs of attendance, and FAFSA Student Aid Report (if applicable).  The deadline to submit all additional documentation is March 8th. 

  1. References – National Scholarships and some Section Scholarships require references, or letters of recommendation, but applications for all scholarships will benefit by having them.  To get letterof recommendation, you will submit the names and contact information for your recommenders online and an automated email will be sent to them with a link to upload or type a letter explaining why you should receive an AWS scholarship.

    Seek out individuals that know you well - They may be teachers or instructors, but could also be work supervisors, mentors, coaches, youth group or troop leaders, or any other individuals that can attest to your work ethic and past accomplishments.  You can log into your account to see if your recommender has submitted their letter.  If they have not, you might want to send them a friendly reminder in advance of the March 8 deadline.

  2. Transcript – You will need to submit the most recent academic transcript that is available.  National Scholarships and some Section Scholarships require an official transcript, so if you want to be eligible, you’ll need to have an official transcript sent by your school or third-party transcript provider.   If you aren’t sure how to get an official transcript, ask a teacher or school administrator. 
  3. Cost of Attendance  You will need to upload a PDF that provides a summary of annual cost of attendance, which may include tuition, books, fees, room and board, etc.  You may obtain this information directly from the school's website or catalog.  A letter generated by the school’s registrar’s office or financial aid office is also acceptable. 
  4. FAFSA Student Aid Report – There are some scholarships that require demonstrated financial need, which means the applicant's Cost of Attendance is more than the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  To be eligible for these scholarships you’ll need to upload the Student Aid Report (SAR) from your most recent FAFSA. 

    If you have not completed the FAFSA, you do not need to complete this section.  You will still be eligible for many AWS Scholarships that do not require demonstrated financial need. 

Don’t wait!  Deadline is March 1!  Apply online at Scholarship selections are made May-October, depending on the type of scholarship. You can learn more about all AWS Scholarship programs at 

A version of this article originally appeared on

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