Nursing Programs in California

California is known for its abundance of diverse landscapes, for its food-conscious and outdoorsy population, and for its juicy avocados, plump raisins and world-class wine. But despite all of its innately health-giving properties, California also possesses a whopping total of 249,000 RNs and 62,000 LPNs to keep its citizens well and happy, and is calling for more.

In such an incredibly diverse and constantly shifting state like this, the demand for care is never satisfied and there exists an entire world of nurses who are responsible for the care of their fellow Californians. These caregivers are paid more than any similarly qualified workers in the nation, and enjoy a wealth of challenging job opportunities.

Positive Outlook for Nurses in California

Not only does California contain the major cities – San Franscisco and LA – whose nurses are paid the most in the country, but it also claims the title of state with the highest annual median registered nursing salary of $91,000. Of course, this high rate of pay corresponds with an equally high cost of living, no matter where you are in the state. The projected growth of nursing professionals is expected to increase by about a quarter during 2010 and 2020, indicating that there may be as many as 75,000 job openings for RNs and LPNs within the next few years.

This incentive means great things for those who want to kickstart their career in a big state with a major need and the resources to compensate its employment very generously. The demand for gerontology nurses, in-home nurses, special needs nurses and children’s nurses is significant, and the number of new and proposed hospitals, clinics and care centers is enormous.

Jobs and Nursing Licenses in California

Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Oakland are in desperate need of acute-care and emergency nurses due to their metropolitan and often crime-ridden atmosphere, while the more rural areas of Northern California are in search of nurses for their many treatment facilities which are often global destinations for the very ill. Nearly 250 schools in California offer the opportunity for nursing training at basic certificate LPN or CNA levels right up to RN or Master’s degree levels.

Universities that run the gamut from Stanford to the UC system of colleges to smaller, community schools like Hancock College give nurses a chance to get accredited and licensed by the California Board of Registered Nursing. The Board allows nurses to acquire and renew their licenses online once they have passed the required NCLEX exam, and even allows endorsed out-of-state applicants to transfer their licenses over to California.

Due to the tremendous amount of collegiate programs, scholarships for nursing degrees are not hard to find, but will be extremely competitive due to the tough nature of the California student market. Big-name healthcare vanguards like Kaiser dominate the west coast lineup of hospitals and care centers, and provide employment for thousands of nurses from the top to the bottom of the long state. Thankfully, the California Nurses Association provides support and information for those professionals who are struggling to break into the career, and for those with inquiries about any aspect of the field.

Average Salaries for Nurses in California

Data from BLS 2012 10th Percentile 50th Percentile 90th Percentile
Registered Nurses $63,490.00 $91,270.00 $136,360.00
Licensed Practical Nurses $36,720.00 $51,150.00 $68,090.00


The US Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, Occupational Employment Statistics, and Employment Projections
The American Health Care Association
Kaiser Family Foundation
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation