SkillsUSA is a United States career and technical student organization serving more than 395,000 high school, college and middle school students and professional members enrolled in training programs in trade, technical and skilled service occupations, including health occupations.

Formation1965; 57 years ago (1965) (as Vocational Industrial Clubs of America)
TypeCareer and Technical Student Organization (CTSO)
Headquarters14001 SkillsUSA Way
Leesburg, Virginia, U.S. 20176
434,141 (2020) [1]
Executive Director
Chelle Travis


SkillsUSA was originally known as the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (VICA). Prior to 1965, attempts at creation of national skill organizations failed. There was still a demand for skill and trade organizations, however. In 1960, the American Vocational Association (AVA) held a meeting, where a committee was formed to facilitate a solution. Representatives from the U.S. Office of Education and the National Association of State Supervisors of Trade and Industrial Education (NASSTIE – now known as the Association for Skilled and Technical Sciences – ASTS – formed the committee. By 1962, the AVA encouraged the Office of Education to hire an employee to form the national organization. At the 1964 AVA convention, powerful leaders of industry and organizational leaders to include U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Secondary School Principals spoke in favor of the proposed organization.

The original VICA seal

The constitution establishing the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America was adopted at the Trade and Industrial Youth Conference May 6–8, 1965 at the Hotel Andrew Jackson in Nashville, Tennessee. Representatives for 14 states, consisting of approximately 200 students, advisors, and business and labor representatives, gathered to choose the club's name, colors, motto, purposes and goals.[2][3] The official red blazer, part of the organization's uniform, was patterned after the blazer from Illinois's organization.[3] These representatives were from existing vocational education groups which agreed to finance the effort, from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia. Illinois actually provided the salary for Philip Baird to be the first executive secretary of the newly founded VICA. The National FFA Organization is credited with making the first financial contribution. The American Vocational Association offered office space at no cost in its Washington headquarters. Additionally, the AVA's Trade and Industrial Division provided a grant.[3]

The original VICA logo.

Tommy Snider from Griffin, Georgia was elected as VICA's first student president and Larry W. Johnson, the assistant supervisor of T&I education and state advisor for the Vocation Industrial Clubs of North Carolina, became the first executive secretary of VICA on July 1, 1965.[2][3][4] He continued in the position until 1987.

By 1966, membership was up to 29,534, spanning 1,074 clubs across 26 states and territories. Additionally, the first issue of the club's magazine was produced.[2] At the national conference, held in Little Rock, Arkansas, the VICA emblem was unveiled, and the first official state charters were presented.[3]

In 1969, the Postsecondary Division of VICA was approved during a Constitutional Convention held in Memphis, Tennessee,[3] bringing total membership to 82,000.[2] The following year, the first edition of the VICA Leadership Handbook was published.[2]

On VICA's 10-year anniversary (1975), the organization inducted its one millionth member. Three years later, VICA saw the start of the construction of its National Leadership Center in Leesburg, Virginia.[2]

The SkillsUSA-VICA logo, 1999.

VICA hosted the International Youth Skill Olympics—held a competition following the National Leadership and Skills Conference (NLSC)—for the first time in 1979, in Atlanta.

In 1995, the national competition, then known as the United States Skill Olympics, was renamed to the SkillsUSA Championships during the NLSC. In, 1999, during the NLSC, VICA was renamed to SkillsUSA-VICA. The name was shortened to SkillsUSA in 2002.[2]


SkillsUSA has a lot of members, organized into at least 2 classrooms and 69 states and territorial associations (including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) as well as alumni members.

Approximately 19,500 teachers and school administrators serve as professional SkillsUSA members and instructors.

More than 600 corporations, trade associations and labor unions actively support SkillsUSA on a national level through financial aid, in-kind contributions and involvement of their people in SkillsUSA activities. Many more work directly with state associations and local chapters.

SkillsUSA programs include local, regional, state and national competitions. During the annual national-level SkillsUSA Championships, more than 6,500 students compete in 100 hands-on skill and leadership contests.

SkillsUSA programs also help to establish industry standards for job skill training in the classroom[5][6] and is cited as a "successful model of employer-driven youth development training program" by the U.S. Department of Labor.[7]


The SkillsUSA Career Essentials suite, introduced in 2017, includes three parts. Career Essentials: Foundations, formerly called the Career Readiness Curriculum, includes 29 lesson plans based on Common Core State Standards. It infuses 21st-century skills into student engagement activities. Career Essentials: Experiences replaces the Professional Development Program. The new online curriculum has 15 project-based learning experiences; these provide real-world context for the essential elements of the SkillsUSA Framework of developing personal, workplace and technical skills grounded in academics. The third component of the suite, Career Essentials: Assessments, previously known as Skill Connect Assessments, offers reliable evaluation of over 40 technical and employability areas. The assessments were originally developed through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Student2Student Mentoring gives high school students a chance to mentor younger students. Jump into STEM! provides tools for high school students to mentor middle- and elementary-school students in skills and activities that may lead to career interests in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

National Leadership and Skills ConferenceEdit

The NLSC opening ceremonies for the 2008 conference.

The National Leadership and Skills Conference is held annually. From 2015-2020, it was held in Louisville, KY. Starting in 2021, this conference moved to Atlanta, GA under a new six-year contract. Most of the competitions are held at the Georgia World Congress Center. General sessions are held in State Farm Arena. The week-long conference entails the competitions, SkillsUSA TECHSPO (the nation's largest trade show in trade and industrial education), a career fair, and SkillsUSA student government sessions. The SkillsUSA Championships is expected to bring in $30 million annually to Atlanta's economy.[8]

Students from the various state associations socialize and learn from one another during the week. Each state association has collectible pins that are often traded between students from various state associations. These pins are normally worn on the official SkillsUSA blazer.

There are recreational activities scheduled during the conference week, including a SkillsUSA night at Kentucky Kingdom.

The week culminates in the awards ceremony. The NLSC generally has a featured keynote speaker. There have been a number of noteworthy speakers. Some of them include:[2]


SkillsUSA offers competitive activities in which students strive to achieve in a variety of occupational skill and leadership areas. Competition in skill and personal achievement is encouraged at all levels. Leadership contests include public speaking, parliamentary procedure, safety, Opening and Closing ceremonies, and job interviewing. Occupational skill contests include the building trades, health occupations, automotive technology, the electrical/electronics industry and personal services. Among many others, there are competitions for outstanding SkillsUSA chapter, community service, entrepreneurship and customer service.

Competitions begin locally and continue through the state and national levels. Some states also have district competitions. In most contests at the national championships, SkillsUSA presents medallions to the top three winners. In other contests, more than three medals may be presented if a standard is met. State and local contests may include the official national contests, but may also include contests not offered at the national level.

The contests are organized and run through a partnership of industry, labor and education. These partners provide awards as well. More than 5,500 students – winners from their states – compete in the $36-million national event, which covers exposition space equivalent to 16 football fields.

SkillsUSA is the official U.S. representative to the WorldSkills Competition. Select winners from the SkillsUSA Championships train for one year before competing at the biennial internationals. SkillsUSA competitions develop enthusiasm for learning and a sense of accomplishment. By recognizing students’ skills and abilities, the competitions promote professional development and appreciation of quality job skills. The events also stimulate public, and specifically student, interest in career and technical training.[9]

Students may participate in three types of contests: Leadership, Occupationally Related, and Skilled and Technical Sciences. Demonstration contests are added to determine interest. If interest is sufficient, demonstration contests can become official competitions and are added to one of the three categories.[10]"SkillsUSA Championships Technical Standards 2017". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help).

Skilled and TechnicalEdit

  • 3D Visualization and Animation
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Advertising Design
  • Architectural Drafting
  • Audio/Radio Production
  • Automated Manufacturing Technology
  • Automotive Refinishing Technology
  • Automotive Service Technology
  • Aviation Maintenance Technology
  • Basic Health Care Skills
  • Broadcast News Production
  • Building Maintenance
  • Cabinetmaking
  • Carpentry
  • CNC Milling Specialist
  • CNC Technician
  • CNC Turning Specialist
  • Collision Repair Technology
  • Commercial Baking
  • Computer Programming
  • Cosmetology
  • Crime Scene Investigation
  • Criminal Justice
  • Culinary Arts
  • Dental Assisting
  • Diesel Equipment Technology
  • Digital Cinema Production
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Electrical Construction Wiring
  • Electronics Technology
  • Esthetics
  • Firefighting
  • Graphic Communications
  • Graphics Imaging – Sublimation
  • Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration
  • Industrial Motor Control
  • Information Technology Services
  • Interactive Application and Video Game Design
  • Internet of Things (IIOT) Smart Home
  • Internetworking
  • Marine Service Technology
  • Masonry
  • Mechatronics
  • Medical Assisting
  • Mobile Electronics Installation
  • Mobile Robotics Technology
  • Motorcycle Service Technology
  • Nail Care
  • Nurse Assisting
  • Photography
  • Plumbing
  • Power Equipment Technology
  • Practical Nursing
  • Residential Commercial and Appliance Technology
  • Restaurant Service
  • Robotics and Automation Technology
  • Robotics: Urban Search and Rescue
  • Screen Printing Technology
  • Sheet Metal
  • Team Engineering Challenge
  • TeamWorks
  • Technical Computer Applications
  • Technical Drafting
  • Telecommunications Cabling
  • Television (Video) Production
  • Web Design and Development
  • Welding
  • Welding Fabrication
  • Welding Sculpture

Leadership DevelopmentEdit

  • Action Skills
  • American Spirit
  • Chapter Business Procedure
  • Chapter Display
  • Community Action Project
  • Community Service
  • Employment Application Process
  • Extemporaneous Speaking
  • Job Interview
  • Job Skill Demonstration A
  • Job Skill Demonstration Open
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Opening and Closing Ceremonies
  • Outstanding Chapter
  • Pin Design (State Conference)
  • Prepared Speech
  • Promotional Bulletin Board
  • Quiz Bowl
  • Spelling
  • T-shirt Design

Occupational SkillsEdit

  • Career Pathway Showcase (Agriculture/Food; Business Management and Technology; Health Services; Human Services; Industrial and Engineering Technology)
  • Customer Service
  • Engineering Technology
  • Entrepreneurship
  • First Aid/CPR
  • Health Knowledge Bowl
  • Health Occupations Professional Portfolio
  • Medical Math
  • Medical Terminology
  • Principles of Engineering Technology
  • Related Technical Math



  1. ^ SkillsUSA 2019-20 Membership Report
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "SkillsUSA History". SkillsUSA, Leesburg, VA. Retrieved July 6, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "SKILLSUSA HISTORY". Connecticut SkillsUSA. Archived from the original on April 7, 2007. Retrieved July 6, 2007.
  4. ^ SkillsUSA-VICA. SkillsUSA-VICA Leadership Handbook (Revised, 1999 ed.). SkillsUSA-VICA, Inc. pp. 10–13.
  5. ^ Tom, Gelinas (September 2000). "Best of the Best (Skills USA-VICA National Leadership and Skills Conference and SkillsUSA Championships)". Fleet Equipment. 26 (9): 4–5.
  6. ^ "Career and Technical Student Organizations". U.S. Department of Education. January 31, 2007. Retrieved July 7, 2007.
  7. ^ Emily Stover DeRocco (July 16, 2004). "Training Employment and Guidance Notice No. 3-04" (PDF). Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor. p. 4. Retrieved July 7, 2007.
  8. ^ "SkillsUSA Selects Atlanta for Future Conference Site". March 18, 2016. Retrieved June 22, 2022.
  9. ^ SkillsUSA Leadership Handbook, Twenty-Fourth Printing, Revised, 2010
  10. ^ SkillsUSA Championships Contest Descriptions Archived September 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ SkillsUSA Championships Contests by Category

External linksEdit