Attract New HVAC Talent – Offer Your Own Private Scholarships

Sept. 6, 2019
How and why you could offer a significant scholarship — complete with a professional career — to attract new talent and grow your HVAC team.

Thanks for your many responses to my last HotMail article, Recruit, Train, and Keep Professional Technicians ( Interestingly, each conversation with you made it increasingly clear that employers committed to building real HVAC careers have their pick of the best candidates. Those who don’t, are left with scraps.

One idea we discussed is for employers to create and offer private scholarships to assure their choice of top-notch high school graduates. Let’s take a look at how and why you could offer a significant scholarship -- complete with a professional career -- to attract new talent and grow your team.

Scholarship Is A Success Indicator
Parents of high-school students generally believe scholarships assure their kids' success in life. A company that offers scholarships is also regarded as highly successful.

Since few sizable HVAC scholarships are offered or promoted, many don’t consider jobs in our industry a valid career. Offering a private scholarship not only changes that perception but attracts qualified candidates directly to your company.

HVAC contractors are used to being in competition for customers. Aren’t we in a much fiercer battle to find and hire the most qualified and motivated technicians?

Professional HVAC Technicians
A professional-level employee carefully considers company culture in his or her employment decision. Ask yourself if your current company culture offers and provides valid careers for legitimate professional technicians? Or does your culture view and treat technicians as laborers?

A few simple answers to these questions will help you quickly assess your company and how it may be perceived by prospective employees.

  1. Is your technician career path clearly spelled out and easy to understand and work towards?
  2. Are specific opportunities to advance obtainable by technicians?
  3. Do salaries and benefits match a professional with as many years’ experience?
  4. Do your technicians, trucks, and shop appear professional?

The answers to these questions will help you form a path to improve your company culture to appeal to top performing technicians and new recruits.

Your Cost for a $20,000 Scholarship
The average high school scholarship is $1000 to $5000. If you offered a $20,000 professional HVAC technician scholarship, you would no doubt capture the interest of your community and the most qualified candidates available.  Imagine the local recognition your company will receive by providing one of the largest scholarships at the graduation ceremony.

Perhaps without being aware of it, you are already paying costs of a new employee that can be packaged and labeled as a scholarship. Let’s talk about the real cost to provide a scholarship that you’re already paying to hire and train a technician today.

Calculate how much you now spend to hire and train a successful service tech in the first five years of their employment. Here are some rough estimates you can adjust to find these costs.

  • Onboarding cost ..........................................$1875
  • Uniforms, tools, and test instruments ...........$3700
  • 18 months of on the job training ...................$8700
  • In-house company training ...........................$5150
  • Professional training and certifications .........$5670

Total Cost ............................................................$25,095

Adjust these numbers up or down to better reflect your investment in a new technician over five years. This bundle of educational benefits determines the value of the scholarship.

If you question this method, dig into the value and benefits of higher education scholarships. Most are formulated using a similar method. If they can do it, you can too.

Qualifications and Conditions
Most scholarship programs have very specific conditions for recipients to earn and keep the scholarship. Use similar conditions to customize to the scholarship you wish to offer and add your own appropriate requirements. I also always recommend you get sound legal and financial advice.

Creating a private scholarship requires time and effort to package and legitimize. Within appropriate parameters, your scholarship program can have its own set of rules and regulations. You can also work with professional scholarship administrators to support you. One such organization is

Here are some of the steps necessary to establish and offer a scholarship:

  • Identify the purpose amount of the scholarship
  • Establish the eligibility requirements and the selection process you will use
  • Determine how to attract applicants. Yes, you must market to give away money
  • Specify ongoing performance objectives to maintain the scholarship
  • Have a website describing relevant scholarship requirements and conditions
  • Develop a scholarship application
  • Creating a proposed timeline with milestones to be met may be valuable.
  • Identify the awarding process and steps to evaluate the offering each fall.

Fall is the ideal time of year to begin this project. It should be ready to distribute to local high school, employment centers, and trade schools by the new year. 

Plus, an Immediate Job
Your scholarship can offer a feature few other scholarships can: a job. Consider adding a five-year job to the scholarship. Of course, the job comes with performance requirements, as most scholarships do.

With the extreme shortage of qualified individuals entering the HVAC workforce today, can you see how this scholarship and career offer compares to five years of poverty at college and $75,000 in student loan debt and no guarantee of a job?

Take Your Pick
Choose the candidate meeting your published requirements who you feel would benefit your company the most. Make arrangements with the high school for the award. Arrange for the job to start several weeks after school is out next spring. Look forward to a long and prosperous relationship and be sure to keep up your end of the bargain.

Young people are our industry’s future. Imagine the impact you can have in their lives if you package your company and our industry in a way they can embrace as an opportunity for their future.

Rob “Doc” Falke serves the industry as president of National Comfort Institute, Inc., an HVAC-based training company and membership organization. Please contact Doc at [email protected] or call him at 800-633-7058 to discuss your questions and ideas about establishing your own private scholarship program. Go to NCI’s website at for free information, articles, and downloads.

About the Author

Rob 'Doc' Falke | President

Rob “Doc” Falke serves the industry as president of National Comfort Institute an HVAC-based training company and membership organization. If you're an HVAC contractor or technician  interested in a building pressure measurement procedure, contact Doc at [email protected]  or call him at 800-633-7058. Go to NCI’s website at for free information, articles and downloads.