10 Best Trade Schools inSan Francisco, CA

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Trade schools, sometimes also called vocational schools or career centers, are educational institutions designed to provide career training programs that focus on hands-on learning.

The educational programs are usually only a few months long and focus on getting the student ready for entry-level employment in their field right after graduation.

On this page we take a look at some of the best trade schools in San Francisco.

We have included in our list relevant information about each institution in order to help you choose the program that best fits your educational needs and professional aspirations.

1Bay Area Medical Academy

Bay Area Medical Academy provides healthcare career training programs that are created in partnership with employers.

Students learn from registered nurses, clinical laboratory technicians, and other healthcare professionals, all with over 20 years of experience in their field.

The school also offers career services consisting of help with resume writing, interview assistance, job referrals and more.

Students can graduate from the 900-hour Medical Assistant program in as few as 9 months.

After finishing the first seven learning units, Medical Assitant students will complete 200 hours of clinical externship.

The Pharmacy Technician program consists of 600 hours of lecture and 240 hours of on-the-job clinical externship.

Bay Area Medical Academy is accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.

The Academy is approved to operate by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education.

Enrollment. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age.

Students must have graduated high school or possess an equivalent diploma (typically a GED certificate).

Applicants also need a photo ID, or driver’s license or alien registration card.

Other requirements vary by program.

Fees. The estimated total charges for the Medical Assistant with Phlebotomy program are approximately $15,440, while the Pharmacy Technician Programs costs around $11,180.

Courses offered:

  • Medical Assistant with Phlebotomy
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Phlebotomy Technician
  • CPR

Contact information:

  • San Francisco campus: 530 Bush St., Suite 201, San Francisco, CA 94108
  • Phone: 415-217-0077
  • Website: https://www.bamasf.com

2San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork

The San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork is one of the oldest and most respected massage schools in the country.

The school has been training massage therapists and bodywork professionals since 1969.

Instructors are professional, certified massage therapists.

The 600-hour Massage Therapist Program covers topics such as Swedish massage, body mechanics, sports massage, deep tissue massage, business & ethics, and much more.

The San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork is institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

The school’s curriculum is approved by the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) and the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB).

Enrollment. Students must be at least 18 years of age and must possess a high school diploma or equivalent, or pass a relevant ability to benefit examination provided by an independent tester approved by the Department of Education.

Fees. The total cost of the Massage Therapist program is $9,300.

The San Francisco School of Massage & Bodywork has a variety of tuition payment options; financial assistance is also available to qualifying students.

Contact information:

  • School campus: 475 Valencia Street – 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103
  • Phone: 415-474-4600
  • Website: https://www.sfsm.edu

3San Francisco Cooking School

San Francisco Cooking School provides certificate programs designed to help students start a career in the food industry.

The programs are exclusively hands-on and classes are limited to 14 students.

Students are mentored by highly qualified chef instructors who are in the classroom every day.

Externships are an important part of the training program; students have access to prized externships working under chefs in San Francisco’s top kitchens.

The School is a private institution and is approved to operate by the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education.

Enrollment. Applicants need a high school or college diploma, or equivalent.

All applicants must prove their proficiency in the English language.

Two letters of recommendation and a personal essay of 400-500 words are also required.

Prospective students will have to attend a personal interview.

Fees. Tuition for the full-time and part-time Culinary Arts and Pastry & Baking Arts Program is $29,275.

Students will also need a $600 Culinary and Pastry Kit.

Courses offered:

  • Culinary Arts
  • Pastry Arts
  • Cooking classes

Contact information:

  • San Francisco Cooking School: 690 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94102
  • Phone: (415) 346-2665
  • Website: https://www.sfcooking.com

4Holberton School

Holberton School offers training classes for those who want to start a career in software engineering.

During a two-year program, students learn coding fundamentals and can specialize in emerging technologies.

The software engineering school was founded in Silicon Valley in 2016.

The school provides a project-based learning environment; students learn how to work effectively in groups, articulate ideas, speak in front of audiences and think outside the box.

Enrollment. Applicants need a GED or high school diploma.

The first steps in the enrollment process consist of filling out an online form and completing small online projects and tests.

Then you will then have about two weeks to create your first website.

The last step is to complete an onsite or remote Q& A and tech challenge.

Fees. There is no upfront tuition.

Student repayment is based on the student’s income once they start working.

If the student repays less than the tuition amount in the 42 months of qualifying payments, the school will forgive the difference.

Students will pay up to $85,000, the tuition amount.

Monthly payments start when you earn at least $3,333/month.

Courses offered:

  • Full-stack software engineering
  • Machine Learning
  • Full-Stack Web Development
  • Low Level and Algorithms

Contact information:

5Galvanize San Francisco

Galvanize San Francisco offers world-class tech education programs in software engineering and data science.

The 12-week Software Engineering Immersive program teaches students about the Fundamentals of Computer Science, Full Stack JavaScript, Application Design/Development & Job Search.

Applicants must be advanced beginners in JavaScript before taking a Technical Interview required for admittance.

The Data Science Bootcamp uses Python-based curriculum, real-world case studies, and machine learning that prepares students for a career as Data Scientists.

Applicants must have programming experience in Python and significant expertise in math, statistics, and probability to pass a technical interview required for admission.

Galvanize is also offering a beginner-level Python Fundamentals program, designed to teach students the basics of programming in Python.

Fees. The Immersive programs cost $17,980 each.

The 6-week Python Fundamentals- part-time program costs $750.

Scholarships, financing plans, and other financing options are also available.

Courses offered:

  • Software Engineering Immersive
  • Data Science Immersive
  • Python Fundamentals- part-time

Contact information:

6General Assembly

General Assembly offers career education in today’s most in-demand skills.

Many of the school’s long-form courses are designed for beginners and no prior knowledge of the subject is required.

The school offers full-time and part-time courses both on-campus and online.

General Assembly is a licensed school in every U.S. state in which they operate.

Fees. Tuition fees vary between 2.800-$3,950 for the part-time classes and $14,500 – $15,500 for the full-time programs (if paid upfront).

Payment plans are also available.

Courses offered:

Full-time on-campus courses:

  • Software Engineering Immersive
  • User Experience Design Immersive
  • Data Science Immersive
  • Digital Marketing Immersive

Part-time on-campus courses:

  • Python Programming
  • User Experience Design
  • Data Analytics
  • Digital Marketing
  • Data Science
  • Product Management
  • Visual Design
  • Front-End Web Development
  • JavaScript Development
  • React Development

Contact information:

7Cinta Aveda Institute

Cinta Aveda Institute provides education for future beauty professionals.

The school’s training programs focus on the skills that help students thrive in the beauty industry while teaching environmental sustainability.

At Cinta, students learn theory, gain practical hands-on experience and learn professional business-building strategies that will help them be successful in their future careers.

The school also offers a CIDESCO Certification program.

Similar to a Master’s degree in academics, the CIDESCO diploma confers national and international certification.

Cinta Aveda Institute is accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences.

The Institute is licensed by the CA Board of Barbering and Cosmetology

Enrollment. Applicants need a high school diploma or equivalent.

Prospective students must submit a state-issued photo I.D. or passport and a Social Security Card (required for State Board Licensure).

They must also pass the Cinta Aveda Institute’s Entrance
Assessment, Wonderlic test.

Fees. Total costs vary between $13,210-$30,760, depending on the program.

Courses offered:

  • Cosmetology/Barber crossover
  • Cosmetology
  • Barbering
  • Esthetics
  • CIDESCO Certification

Contact information:

  • San Francisco campus: 305 Kearny Street [at Bush], San Francisco, CA,94108
  • Phone:  (415) 496-4787  (Admissions-call or text)
  • Website: https://cintaaveda.edu

8Recording Connection

Recording Connection provides mentor-based programs for those who want to start a career in the music business.

As Recording Connection apprentices (externs), students have access to one-on-one learning in a real recording studio, using the latest gear.

The school’s curriculum is taught by working industry professionals.

The school offers true job placement assistance for the first twelve months after graduation.

Enrollment. All those who can read, write, speak English, have basic computer skills and a passion for music are eligible to apply.

Fees. Total costs vary between $12,750 and $16,220, depending on the program.

The school also offers scholarships and grants.

Courses offered:

  • Audio Engineering & Music Production
  • Advanced Audio Engineering & Music Production
  • Hip Hop & Beat Making
  • Live Music
  • Logic Pro Electronic Music Production
  • Ableton Electronic Music Production
  • Advanced Ableton Electronic Music Production
  • Music Production
  • Live DJ
  • Music Business


  • Post Production
  • Learn from Legends
  • Audio Certification
  • Tutorials

Contact information:

9Soma Bartending

Soma Bartending is a hands-on bartending school in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The school offers a weekday certification program, a Saturday certification program and a Sunday certification program.

Soma Bartending also offers mixology & team building sessions.

The Academy is located in a real bar in the popular SoMa district.

The school’s certification program is entirely hands-on.

Soma offers small class sizes, giving each student individual attention.

The curriculum covers a variety of topics, such as bar safety, glassware, how to cut garnishes, free pouring vs. using a jigger, bar terminology and cocktail tasting, and much more.

Following the training period, students take a final practice exam.

The school offers free resume consultation and job placement assistance.

All students can attend Guest Bartending night every Monday night.

Graduates can attend future classes for free.

Fees. Course fees are around $440-$500.

Contact information:

10National Holistic Institute

National Holistic Institute provides education for future massage therapists.

The school offers flexible morning, afternoon, and evening schedules year-round.

National Holistic Institute’s massage therapy school in San Francisco is located on Market Street at Gough.

The school offers an 8-month Massage Therapy program and a 450-hour Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy Program.

The Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy Program is available for massage therapists with a minimum of 500 hours of training or with training in other healthcare disciplines.

Along with classes in anatomy, physiology, pathology, and bodywork, the school also offers business classes, externships, a massage therapy clinic on each campus and career placement and support.

National Holistic Institute is nationally accredited by Accrediting Council for Continuing Education & Training (ACCET).

Enrollment. The first step in the enrollment process consists of completing an online application.

Fees. The Core Massage Therapy Program costs $15,588; the Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy Program costs $7,794.

The school also offers Financial Aid to qualifying students.

Courses offered:

  • Massage Therapy Training Program
  • Advanced Neuromuscular Therapy Program

Contact information:

  • NHI Headquarters: 5900 Doyle Street, Emeryville, CA 94608
  • Phone: 510.547.6442
  • Website: https://nhi.edu

Salary Information for Popular Trade Careers

CareerEmployedAvg. Annual SalaryAvg. Hourly PayTop 10% Annual SalaryBottom 10% Annual Salary
Paralegals and Legal Assistants6,330$88,270$42.44$129,900$51,400
Medical Records Specialists2,630$73,800$35.48$107,530$43,670
Nursing Assistants10,980$52,280$25.13$68,940$40,110
Dental Assistants5,550$62,830$30.21$78,860$46,610
Medical Assistants14,500$58,710$28.23$76,050$42,900
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters5,200$92,000$44.23$155,680$47,980
Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics8,010$66,450$31.95$96,350$39,420
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers4,540$80,300$38.61$128,960$47,560
* Salary information based on the May 2022 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA metropolitan statistical area, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Final Thoughts

If you have decided that vocational training is the path you want to follow, San Francisco trade schools offer a multitude of options for you to choose from.

Before choosing a specific training program, it is very important to ensure that the school is trustworthy and accredited by government institutions.

Take your time and explore all your options before deciding on a trade school!

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