Have questions about the Community Health Worker program? Read through our frequently asked questions to get answers.


The Community Health Worker (CHW) Certificate Program at City College of San Francisco is a structured course of study designed to prepare students for work in community-oriented public health, health care, and social service fields.
Community Health Workers serve as a two-way bridge between communities and essential health and social resources. CHWs provide a wide range of services including outreach, health education, client-centered counseling, and case management services. They play a vital role in promoting health justice and reducing health inequalities or unequal rates of illness, disability, and death between communities.

All CHW classes are offered in the evenings or on weekends, and the certificate takes 2 semesters to complete. Students are enrolled in a cohort or student group that takes key courses together, providing each other with peer support for academic and career success. All CHW students must complete a 120-hour internship (150 hours for paid internships) with a local employer when they are enrolled in Health 203.

Credits are applicable towards a CCSF Associate Degree and are transferable to San Francisco State University.

Job opportunities are expanding rapidly for CHWs in California and across the United States, with the majority of growth being in public health and health care settings, including in the management of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, depression, and HIV disease.

CHWs work under a wide variety of job titles such as health educator, community health outreach worker (CHOW), public health aide, case manager/caseworker, promotor/a, health ambassador, and peer counselor. On the job, CHWs address a range of public health issues, including the prevention and management of infectious and chronic health conditions, and challenges such as homelessness, addiction, food security (or reliable access to food), and reentry or returning home from incarceration.

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 in the Health Worker 1-3 Series.

According to California Labor Market Data (2019) reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Community Health Workers in the United States earn a median hourly wage San Francisco area earn a median hourly wage of approximately $26.61, the equivalent of the annual salary of $55,350. 

For further information, please see the list of resources provided on the “Related Links” webpage, including information from the federal Department of Labor, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Public Health Association.

The CHW Elective courses are open to all; there are no prerequisites.  To be eligible to enroll in the CHW Program and the 14-units of foundational series of required courses (Health 201, 202, 203 and 203W) students must complete the prerequisite course - HLTH 59: Introduction to the Community Health Worker Field - with a grade of “C” or better.

For San Francisco residents, tuition is free, with some conditions. You can find more information about the Free City Program on the CCSF website.

For California residents who live outside of San Francisco the cost is $46 per credit unit or approximately $920 for a 20-unit course of study. Note the costs per unit are significantly higher for non-resident and international students. Students must also pay several additional one-time fees each semester that may range from $23- $26. Fees may change and are posted on the CCSF website each semester (www.ccsf.edu).

Students must purchase the required books for CHW courses. Health 201, 202, and 203 and certain other courses all use the same textbook (Foundations for Community Health Workers, Second Edition) which costs between $50- $90 (used copies are available for less on Amazon and other online sites). When possible and based on need, we also provide students with a free copy of the textbook to borrow during their studies through our textbook loan program.

Depending on your schedule, availability for school, and the certificate program you choose, most students can complete a certificate in 2 semesters of course work. We encourage you to pace yourself for academic and professional success, and not to enroll in too many courses in any one semester on top of family, work, and other life responsibilities.

For students who want to get an Associate's degree or a Bachelor's degree, we highly recommend starting to take the required English (including ESL, if relevant) and Math sequences at the college. You can take these courses when you are enrolled in the CHW Certificate Program if your schedule allows. Starting early on the English sequence, in particular, is helpful for a more efficient transfer later, and it also can support students to get the most out of the reading and writing assignments in the CHW certificate programs. For more information on matriculation, visit the Assessment Center page. All of the core courses in the CHW certificates transfer to the CSUs (California State Universities). Further information is also available in the CCSF Catalog.

You must fill out a Petition for Certificate form and turn it into the Office of Admissions & Records (MUB 188) to have your certificate issued to you - it is not automatic!  There is a deadline for submitting your Petition each semester that will be promoted in CHW classes.  You should apply for your Certificate during the semester when you are completing your final courses.

We also hope that you will join us and participate in the annual Graduation Ceremony held each May.  Your family and friends are also welcome to join us.

To download the petition for a Certificate, visit the Office of Admissions & Records.