If you live anywhere between Santa Barbara and the Mexican border, there are scores of excellent trade schools in Southern California waiting to help you make your dreams become a reality. Depending on the vocation you’re interested in pursuing, you can find everything from specialized technical colleges to nationally-recognized multi-trade schools that allow you to earn the professional degree or certification you want wherever, and whenever best suits you.
This article gives a brief overview of some of the best-known trade schools in Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego. Due to the literally hundreds of possible programs you can choose from, we will limit our focus to those large schools that are known for their full accreditation status and wide range of high quality course offerings.
It should also be noted that there are many schools that offer online trade schools in Southern California. This list does not include these schools unless they have a physical campus in the region.
Trade Schools in Southern California
Argosy University (Ontario, Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego)
Offering professional degrees and certifications in business, criminal justice, education, health sciences, liberal arts and psychology, Argosy University currently has four campuses in Southern California. Founded in 2001, the Southern California trade schools are best known for their liberal arts and health sciences programs (Argosy is particularly popular for its medical assistant training).
DeVry University (Alhambra, Anaheim, Bakersfield, Colton, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oxnard, Pomona and Sherman Oaks)
Since becoming known as DeVry University in 2002, this nationally-renowned vocational college has established itself as one of the genre’s most respected. Offering degrees and certifications in business and management, engineering and information sciences, health sciences, liberal arts, and media arts and technology, DeVry boasts one of the most diverse course offerings among California vocational schools. The university currently operates nine different campuses in Southern California.
Everest College (Alhambra, Anaheim, City of Industry, Gardena, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Ontario, Reseda, San Bernardino, Santa Ana, Torrance and West Los Angeles)
Rivaling the University of Phoenix and DeVry University for the greatest number of different degrees and professional certifications offered, Everest College’s 12 Southern California campuses support programs in no fewer than 20 vocations. The colleges are known for their academic flexibility and Computer and Information Sciences programs.
Kaplan College (Bakersfield, Chula Vista, North Hollywood, Palm Springs, Panorama City and Riverside)
Kaplan’s six regional campuses focus on Allied Health, Criminal Justice, Design, IT, Legal, Nursing and Trades (electrical technician and HVAC in particular). The school has an extremely good success rate in graduating its students with certifications and degrees in their chosen fields, and many go on to successful careers shortly after graduation.
The Art Institute of California (Hollywood, Inland Empire, Los Angeles, Orange County and San Diego)
With five locations to choose from in Southern California, the Art Institute of California specializes in programs for traditional trade school careers like fashion, design, media and culinary arts. These programs are noted for the amount of networking opportunities they provide students and for the quality of their faculty.
UEI College (Anaheim, Chula Vista, El Monte, Gardena, Huntington Park, Ontario, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Marcos)
With course selections that range from Automotive Technician and Business Management to Dental Assistant and Vocational Nursing, UEI College is not just known for offering lots of program options, but for the quality of its education as well. The school is accredited by the ACCET.
University of Phoenix (25 different campuses in Southern California)
The University of Phoenix website proudly proclaims that it has “campuses within 10 miles of 87 million Americans”, and given the density of campus locations in Southern California, there is no reason to dispute the claim. Founded in 1976 as one of the first, modern, national multi-trade schools, the University of Phoenix offers the greatest variety of degrees in the most career fields of any vocational school and has 25 campuses in the Southern California area to choose from.
Westwood College (Anaheim, Upland, Los Angeles-Wilshire and Los Angeles-South Bay)
Fully accredited by both the ACCSC and ACICS, Westwood College is one of the most reputable vocational schools in California, and offers a good variety of programs at its four Southern California locations. Student reviews consistently rate Westwood’s facilities and faculty as among the region’s best.
Recommended Trade Schools in Southern California
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