About the CHW, PPHW, and YW Certificates


The Community Health Worker Certificate Program at City College of San Francisco prepares students for work in community-oriented public health, health care and social service fields. CHWs provide a wide range of services including outreach, health education, client-centered counseling/coaching, case management and referrals and advocacy in both clinical and community settings.

Once each semester, we facilitate an Orientation Session to provide interested students and working CHWs with more information about the program.  You can view the PowerPoint Slides used in the Orientation Session by clicking here: CHW Orientation PowerPoint

The three different CHW Certificate options requires the successful completion of 20-22 college units with a grade of “C” or better.  The three certificate options include the Community Health Worker, Post Prison Health Worker, and the Youth Worker Certificates.  

Students must also receive a satisfactory evaluation from their internship supervisor, and from the panel of community experts who administer a final performance-based exam (PBE).  The PBE takes the form of an extended role play in which the CHW student must demonstrate their ability to apply client-centered concepts and skills in facilitating an initial meeting with a new client.

All students must apply for admission to the CHW Program.  To be eligible to apply, students must have successfully complete Health Education 59 with a “C” or better. OR be currently working or volunteering as a Community Health Worker. More details are provided on the “How to Apply” webpage.


To find out which CHW courses are offered each semester, check online at www.ccsf.edu/schedule

The CHW Internship

All students must complete a minimum of 128 hour internship with a local agency or program.  The internship complement the classroom experience by putting theory into practice.  Students who are seeking the Post Prison Health Worker Certificate must complete an internship in which they have the opportunity to work with incarcerated or formerly incarcerated clients and communities.  Students seeking the Youth Worker Certificate must complete an internship in which they have the opportunity to work with youth and/or young adults.  For more information, please go the CHW Internship webpage.

Our Approach to Teaching & Learning

The City College curriculum teaches core competencies common to 70 CHW job titles. We use a unique pedagogy that combines performance-based and popular education, which taps the power of student’s own life experiences, knowledge and skills.  Classes and internships are led by a diverse teaching team with professional experience working in public health. 

Core courses incorporate various teaching methodologies such as collaborative learning, group work, projects, role play practice, case studies and individual writing assignments. Materials are presented in a variety of ways including written materials, the use of role plays or skits, presentations from guest speakers and class members, the use of video and film.

CHW courses address a wide variety of topics including public health, social justice and strategies for reducing and eliminating persistent inequalities among communities in rates of illness and death.   CHW students learn concepts and skills for client-centered practice including how to provide health education, coaching/counseling, motivational interviewing and case management services informed by cultural humility.   The curriculum addresses topics such as chronic health conditions, immigration and health, and trauma and emphasizes professional skills including ethics, scope of practice, team-work, internet research, resume development and job interviewing.   Finally students also learn how to conduct a community diagnosis, and how to implement the 5-Step Community Action Model (CAM) for community organizing and advocacy. 


Short Videos Created by Graduates of the CHW Program

CCSF Community Health Worker students have developed short 2-4 minute videos about their pathway to becoming CHWs (with the support of the Center for Digital Storytelling).  To watch their videos, please click on the links provided below:

Shawn's Digital Story

Enicia's Digital Story

Luciana's Digital Story

Ron's Digital Story

Jermila's Digital Story

Tracy's Digital Story


Career Opportunities

Job opportunities are expanding for Community Health Workers (CHW) in California and across the nation.  Part of this is due to recent health care reforms enacted through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) that expand access to primary health care for millions of Americans.  In order to best reach and promote the health of low-income patients living with chronic conditions (such as diabetes, depression, or high blood pressure), many health care organizations and public health departments are hiring CHWs to provide client-centered outreach, education and case management services. 

The San Francisco Department of Public Health accepts the CHW Certificate as equivalent to six out of twelve months of experience required for hiring health workers.

The Certificate is also designed for in-service development of professionals already working as CHWs in public health departments and community based organizations.

While some CHWs work for health-care organizations, including hospitals and clinics, others work in community-based settings with non-profit agencies that may provide a wide range of social services.  

The California Employment Development Department (CA EDD) and the federal Department of Labor both predict strong growth in employment for the CHW field.   Please note that CHWs may work under a wide variety of job titles including, for example, health worker, outreach worker, community health outreach worker (CHOW), public health aide, case manager/case worker, and promotora, health ambassador, and counselor/peer counselor amongst others.