I'm just getting started in California. I joined this site because is has the best combination of information, ethical considerations, advise and humor of all the forums I searched out. I get in here semi-regularly and catch up on threads that provide interesting info.
I joined CREIA on the advise of this board. It was a great move. The chapter I aligned with, Delta, is only 13 members, but the quality of individuals there is great. The Standard of Procedures, and the Ethics code enforcement go a long way toward ruling out undesirables. The information and training are very helpful. I can't stress it too much, that signing up with CREIA and, at a minimum, attending the monthly chapter meetings is the right move in California. Since the state is unregulated, it also makes sense to align with an association that holds you accountable for certain performance and ethics standards, if you are to have any credibility. The entrance requirements for CREIA certification can not be shortcut or cheated. If you get to certified, you are doing okay.
My schooling was with PHII, online. While the materials and presentation need work, the information I received is lining up with the NHIE study book (700 pages...). The NHIE book is actually validating what I found at PHII. Additinally, PHII is affordable, and approved by CREIA. CREAI requires that you pass the NHIE before you can be cert'd. And the PHII class delivers you 90 CEs toward the requirements by CREIA.
There may be some changes in the legislative world in CA over the next two years. You could stay on top of things by reading this board and the one over at CREIA.