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15 Best Trade Schools in San Diego | Costs, Requirements, and How to Apply

This article explores the best trade schools in San Diego.


Trade schools, also known as vocational schools or career centers, are an excellent option for those who want to pursue a successful career but cannot afford a four-year college education. 

You can find some of the best trade schools in San Diego. These organizations provide opportunities to pursue diverse subjects and offer valuable vocational training.

Unlike the traditional four-year degree, these programs offer students specific training based on their chosen career path. Students are also provided with the knowledge and skills needed to transition directly into the workforce.

You’ll be able to find accredited trade schools in San Diego offering vocational education in nearly all fields, from medical assisting to IT support. Check out the list below for more information on the 15 best trade schools in San Diego, California.

See Also: 15 Best Trade Schools in Delaware | Costs, Requirements, How to Apply

Are there Trade Schools in San Diego?

Yes, there are. We’ve chosen ten of the best vocational schools in the area and provided you with important information about their programs, such as tuition, duration, accreditation, and much more. 

  1. San Diego Medical College
  2. Bridge Career Education
  3. Fast Track Medical Training Center
  4. Concorde Career Colleges
  5. Phlebotomy U
  6. Center for Employment Training
  7. Western Truck School
  8. Riggins Urban Barber College
  9. Bellus Academy
  10. San Diego Masters of Bartending School
  11. ICOHS College
  12. Associated Technical College
  13. Platt College
  14. The Accounting Academy of San Diego
  15. Golden State Contractors School

How Much Does Trade School Cost in San Diego?

The cost of Trade Schools in San Diego is $14,500.

The Medical Assistant and Green Building Construction Skills programs cost $14,249 each.

Financial assistance is available to qualifying students.

What are the Requirements for Trade Schools in San Diego?

Applicants must be 16 years of age or older. Applicants must be high school graduates or hold a GED or equivalent.

They need an ID and a copy of a physical exam with TB test results.

What are the Best Trade Schools in San Diego | 2023?

This article examines the 15 best trade schools in San Diego. The goal is to assist you in selecting the best training program for your educational needs and professional goals.

1. San Diego Medical College

The California Department of Public Health Licensing and Certification has approved San Diego Medical College as a nursing assistant school. 

The College provides a nursing assistant program that lasts 22 days, a home health aide program, EKG training, and other services. 

Classes for Nursing Assistants are held Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The instructors at the school have many years of experience in their field and are up to date on the latest in EMS, Nursing, and Rescue training theory and practices. 

The school is also a Regional Testing Center for the National Nurse Aide Assessment Program.

Courses offered:

  • Nurse Assistant Program
  • Home Health Aide Program
  • Continuing Education Units
  • CPR First Aid Training
  • EKG Training
  • Front- Back Office Medical Assistant
  • Food Handler Certification
  • Pharmacology
  • RN & LVN NCLEX Review
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2. Bridge Career Education

Bridge Career Education is a private training school in San Diego’s Mission Valley neighborhood. 

The school provides accelerated certificate programs in the fields of health and clinical research. 

The career-focused, hands-on training programs at the school can be completed in 5 to 11 weeks. 

The school offers classes during the day, evenings, and on weekends. 

Bridge Career Education is exempt from the Department of Consumer Affairs Bureau of Private and Postsecondary Education (BPPE). 

The State of California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Licensing and Certification Program, Aide and Technician Certification Section has approved the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Training Program (ATCS).

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3. Fast Track Medical Training Center

Students at Fast Track Medical Training Center are prepared for careers in the healthcare industry. 

The Certified Nursing Assistant program is designed to prepare students for the California State Nurse Assistant Competency Evaluation Testing Program as well as to assist them in developing job skills and attitudes appropriate for competent caregivers. 

Students in the CNA program learn nursing procedures such as vital sign-taking, positioning, bathing, dressing, and other personal care activities, as well as when and what to report to the nurse. 

Adult CPR training and job placement services are provided. 

Certified Nursing Assistants can work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, care homes, private homes, adult daycare, and clinics, among other places. 

For Certified Nursing Assistants who want to become Licensed Vocational Nurses, the school also offers a Pharmacology Certification course.

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4. Phlebotomy U

Phlebotomy U is a private institution focused on providing phlebotomy education.

The school uses current technology and helps students get extensive hands-on experience.

Graduates can work in a variety of medical settings, including hospitals, clinical laboratories, clinics, physician’s offices, blood banks, and more.

The school is approved to operate by the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

Courses offered:

  • CPT I Phlebotomy Course
  • Advanced Abbreviated CPT I Courses
  • Safe Venipuncture (for Radiologic Technicians)
  • Blood Withdrawal (for Research Assistants)

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5. Concorde Career Colleges

Concorde’s San Diego campus provides career-focused healthcare programs such as dental assisting, dental hygiene, medical assisting, nursing, and others. 

The college provides certificate and associate degree programs. 

The campus in San Diego features large classrooms, a learning resource center, labs, and a career/student center. 

Depending on the program, the duration ranges from 8 to 21 months. 

The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges has accredited Concorde Career Colleges (ACCSC).

Courses offered:

  • Cardiovascular Sonography – Associate
  • Diagnostic Medical Sonography – Associate
  • Dental Assistant – Diploma
  • Dental Hygiene – Associate
  • Medical Assistant – Diploma
  • Medical Office Administration – Diploma
  • Physical Therapist Assistant – Associate
  • Surgical Technology – Associate
  • Vocational Nursing – Diploma

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6. Center for Employment Training

The Center for Employment Training (CET) offers job training programs that prepare students for careers in high-demand industries. 

CET training is based on doing rather than learning, and students can graduate in 6 to 9 months. 

The Commission of the Council on Occupational Education has accredited the Center for Employment Training (CET). 

The Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education currently licenses the Center for Employment Training (CET) to operate (BPPE).

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7. Western Truck School

Western Truck School provides training for those interested in a career in the trucking industry. 

The school provides thorough preparation for the commercial driver’s license exam. 

West Truck School employs cutting-edge technology and equipment.

Courses offered:

  • Class A Commercial Driver Program
  • Class A Commercial Driver Extended Program
  • Class B/P Combined Commercial Driver Program
  • Class A Advance Commercial Driver Program
  • Class A Master Commercial Driver Program
  • Class B Commercial Driver Program
  • Class P Passenger Commercial Driver Program
  • Class A/P Combined Commercial Driver Program
  • Class A or B Specialized/Refresher Commercial Driver Program
  • Forklift Program
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8. Riggins Urban Barber College 

Riggins Urban Barber College educates aspiring barbers. 

Students at Riggins Urban Barber College receive the fundamental training required to pass the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology examination. 

Also, students study barbering techniques, barbershop management, business concepts, and the psychology of personal success. 

In addition, students learn about the Barber/Cosmo Act & Regulations, Barbering Chemistry, Disinfection & Sanitation, Hairstyling, Curling & Blow Drying, Shaving, Facials, and much more during the 1500-hour Barbering Course. 

The Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education has approved Riggins Urban Barber College (BPPE). 

The California Board of Barbering & Cosmetology has also approved the school’s barbering programs (BBC).

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9. Bellus Academy

Bellus Academy offers beauty professional training programs. 

The Academy has three California campuses and one in Kansas. 

To prepare students for the state board exam, all of the Academy’s programs include a mock state board test. 

To accommodate students’ schedules, Bellus offers day and night classes. 

The National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts & Sciences has granted Bellus Academy accreditation.

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10. San Diego Masters of Bartending School

The Masters of Bartending School program trains future bartenders. 

The school’s industry certification program is made up of eight modules. 

Cocktails, martini techniques, layered and mixed shooters, beer and wine, craft cocktails, and much more are covered. 

In addition to the San Diego Food Health Card, the program includes an Alcohol Awareness Program, elite industry training, a workbook, testing, and certification. 

Masters of Bartending School, located in the heart of San Diego, employs both classic and modern bartending techniques. 

After completing all eight modules, two exit exams, and documenting a minimum of twenty-five hours of behind-the-bar time in the school’s training facility, students are certified and receive the official Gold Stamped Certificate from the Masters of Bartending School. 

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11. ICOHS College

ICOHS college is the place to go if you’re looking to start a career in holistic health, massage therapy, or IT support.

Both the Holistic Health Practitioner and Professional Massage Therapist training programs abide by the California Massage Therapy Council. Graduates are qualified to apply for a license from the California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC), which legally allows you to practice massage in California.

The school also offers two programs in the technology space. The IT Systems Administrator certificate focuses on different areas of software maintenance, from installation to troubleshooting. Meanwhile, the IT Network Specialist certificate focuses more heavily on maintaining PC Computers, switches, and Cisco routers.

ICOHS College remains one of the best schools in San Diego, with a graduation rate of 79%.

Courses Offered

  • Professional Massage Therapist
  • Holistic Health Practitioner
  • IT Network Specialist
  • IT Systems Administrator

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12. Associated Technical College

San Diego’s Associated Technical College is one of the leading career schools in telecommunications, technology, and microcomputer technology. The California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education approves all training offered, which the Associated Technical College has provided since 1984.

Courses Offered

  • Microcomputer Technology Program
  • Telecommunications Technology Program 

Program Length

The programs offered by San Diego’s Associated Technical College run for eight months each.

Tuition Fee

The estimated tuition fee for the Associated Technical College in San Diego, California, is $14,000. 80% of those who enroll in Associated Technical College receive grants and scholarships to help cover the cost of tuition.

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13. Platt College

This El Cajon campus operates as a private technical school, offering courses exclusively on graphic arts and design. This organization provides a healthy range of specialty programs, from 3D modeling to web design classes, along with bachelor’s degree programs in digital video production.

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The graduation rate of Platt College is 73%.

Courses Offered

  • Graphic Design
  • Digital Media Design
  • 3D Modeling and Design
  • Web Design and Development
  • Program length

Most students will complete their certificate program in about 18 months.

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14. The Accounting Academy of San Diego

The Accounting Academy of San Diego specializes in accounting and bookkeeping and provides real-world, hands-on instruction to help students achieve entry-level employment in the field. The school also provides students with work placement assistance and maintains connections to various San Diego accounting agencies.

Courses Offered

  • Payroll Specialist Program
  • Accounts Receivable Specialist Program
  • Tax Preparer/Enrolled Agent Program
  • Accounts Payable Specialist Program
  • Small Business Accounting and Bookkeeping Training Programs
  • Administrative Assistant Program
  • Tax Preparer Program

Program Length

The courses offered by the Accounting Academy in San Diego, California, take anywhere from six and eight months to complete.

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15. Golden State Contractors School

This school provides training facilities and exam preparation programs to help aspiring contractors receive their licensure. Classroom knowledge will familiarize students with contractor law and additional trade practices. Online learning is also available.

Courses Offered

  • Business Workshop
  • Contractor Full Law Refresher Class
  • Corporate, LLC, and Partnership Processing
  • Trade Only / Additional Trade Study Programs
  • Program Length

Programs offered through the Golden State Contractors School programs last anywhere from one to six weeks.

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How Much do Traders Make in San Diego?

Since San Diego has a rather robust job market where skilled traders can easily find a job it is one of the cities with high salaries for skilled traders in the state.

As of Aug 30, 2022, the average annual pay for the Skilled Trades jobs category in San Diego is $41,334 a year.

How do I become a Trader in San Diego?

Students looking for a focused workforce training program will be drawn to trade school. A one-year certificate or a two-year associate degree from a San Diego vocational school prepares graduates for the workforce. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, professionals with occupational credentials have a higher employment rate than those with academic credentials.

Best Paying Jobs In San Diego with Salary  

  • Trader Construction $66,235 hourly wage: $31.84
  • Trade Supervisor $63,287 hourly wage: $30.43
  • On Call Trader $60,776 hourly wage: $29.22
  • Work From Home Skilled Trade Craft $58,698 hourly wage: $28.22
  • Trades Supervisor $58,609 hourly wage: $28.18

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the skilled trades worth it?

A master tradesperson can demand even better pay. The average college graduate made less than $50,000. Salaries vary between state, company size, experience, industry, and level of education. Yet, skilled trade careers consistently make a good living.

What is the most demanded trade in 2022?

– Aircraft Mechanic: $66,440.
– Home Inspector: $63,150. 
– Cable/Fiber Optics Tech: $61,470.
– Electrician: $56,900. 
– Plumber: $56,330. 
– Civil Engineer Tech: $54,080. 
– HVAC Technician: $50,590. 
– Pipefitter: $43,210.

How do I start a skilled trade?

Here are some steps you may take to enter into a trade:
– Complete high school. The minimum educational requirement for most trade jobs is a high school diploma or GED.
– Pick a trade.
– Select an educational program.
– Obtain an apprenticeship.
– Get licensed. 
– Become a journeyman.


Choosing the right trade school may be the first step toward achieving your professional goals. 

Whether you’re looking to pass a state board exam approved by the accrediting council or simply looking to brush up on occupational skills, you’ll be able to find various colleges in San Diego to accommodate you.

San Diego trade schools provide high-quality education in a variety of educational fields. 

Many schools can help you get job-ready in a matter of months, whether you want to be a medical assistant, a bartender, or a professional welder. 

Before deciding on a trade school, make sure you thoroughly research all of your options.


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