Best LVN Programs in California
California is leading the charge in training and hiring new licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) to meet the growing demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) even projects an 11% growth in employment for the industry, leading many to pursue this career pathway. LVNs in California earn approximately $27.02 per hour, which equates to an average annual salary of $56,200. This is roughly $9,150 per year more than the national average.
Are you looking to become a licensed vocational nurse in California? The school you choose is important when it comes to getting your license. Approved programs in California are offered at community colleges, technical centers, and private career schools - we list 119 schools across the state. After careful review of NCLEX-PN exam first-time pass rates over the past several years, we have ranked the top 50 programs. For more information on our LVN program rankings, see our Methodology page.
To see all the top ranked LVN programs in California click here.
Details on California LVN Schools & Classes
To become an LVN in California, you’ll need to enroll in and graduate from an accredited school. Once complete, students must take and pass the NCLEX-PN exam in order to gain licensure. LVN programs can be round at a variety of colleges and technical/vocational schools across the state, making it easy for students to find one that suits their needs. LVN programs consist of a mix of nursing-specific courses and labs, with titles such as:
- Anatomy and Physiology for Vocational Nurses
- Nursing of the Mature Adult Theory
- Pediatric Nursing Theory
The first thing students can do when researching LVN programs is to search for accredited schools. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing is a widely-known national accrediting body to keep an eye out for, and regional accreditations exist as well. You can also look for programs endorsed by the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians.
California LVN schools typically require the following in order to be eligible for admission, though it’s important to keep in mind that these requirements may vary from school to school:
- High school diploma or GED
- Transcripts of any previous college work
- Must be at least 18 years of age
- CPR certification for healthcare providers
Tuition and Costs
Many students are scared off by the thought of LVN school tuition, but there are programs in the state that fit many budgets. Students must consider the cost of tuition, mandatory school/program fees, and extras like textbooks and uniforms. The LVN program at southern California’s Pasadena City College, for example, runs roughly $4,463 in its entirety.
California LVN Licensing Requirements
To become an LVN in the state of California, the applicant must complete 1,530 education hours at a vocational, trade, or private LVN school approved by the California Nursing Board—576 of these hours are in theory and 54 in pharmacology. Training includes coursework in: anatomy and physiology, psychology, communications, patient education, nutrition, growth and development, rehabilitation, maternity, and much more. The program can take anywhere from 12 to 20 months, depending on the level of commitment—part-time or full-time coursework. Other requirements to become an LVN may include physical strength requirements, including the ability to life patients, pulling and pushing patients and machinery, and extended periods of standing, squatting, walking, and running. There are no continued education requirements for those holding an LVN license, but licenses must be renewed biennially. If the license holder fails to renew for 2 or more years, he or she will be required to complete an additional 30 hours of continued education over the next 2 years.
NCLEX Exam Information
Once students graduate from an LVN program and complete their training, they must register for and pass the required test, known as the NCLEX-PN. This test consists of roughly 100 nursing-related questions, and students are required to pass this in order to be eligible for licensure as a vocational nurse. More about the NCLEX-PN can be found here, and students can also take advantage of our NCLEX-PN practice test in order to prep for the exam.
LVN Reciprocity and NLC
California is currently pending legislation for participation as a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state. Under the NLC, nurses can practice in other NLC states, without having to obtain additional licenses. An individual can also become an LVN in the state of California by endorsement (transferring with a license from another state), in which he or she must have completed one of the following:
- Graduated from an approved LVN program
- Graduated from another state’s approved LVN/LPN program
- Completed and education and experience equivalent
- Completed the education and experience equivalent in the US military
- The applicant applying for endorsement must have received a passing score on either the NCLEX or SBTPE and submit verification of current licensure.
Check out more detailed information about LVN endorsement by application in California. Learn more about an alternative way to gain LVN licensure in California.
The table below lists career information collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for licensed vocational nurses in California. The table is sorted by total employment, with the largest metropolitan areas listed first.
|Area||Total Employment||Average Hourly Wage||Average Annual Salary|
|Los Angeles, Long Beach, Anaheim||24,220||$25.96||$54,000|
|Riverside, San Bernardino, Ontario||7,210||$25.46||$52,960|
|San Francisco, Oakland, Hayward||6,670||$31.45||$65,410|
|San Diego, Carlsbad||5,310||$27.32||$56,820|
|Sacramento, Roseville, Arden, Arcade||3,690||$27.61||$57,420|
|San Jose, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara||2,720||$30.60||$63,650|
|Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Ventura||1,260||$25.30||$52,620|
|San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Arroyo Grande||870||$26.45||$55,020|
|Santa Maria, Santa Barbara||520||$29.17||$60,680|
|Santa Cruz, Watsonville||280||$28.51||$59,300|
For those interested in advancing their nursing career, see our California LVN to RN/BSN programs page.
Santa Barbara Business College - Santa Maria
Santa Barbara Business (SBB) College is located in the Central Coast wine country in Santa Maria, with additional locations in Bakersfield, Rancho Mirage, Santa Barbara, and Ventura. SBB strives to provide quality training and degree programs to meet a variety of career needs, including that of its excellent LVN program. The school prides itself on emphasizing learning, providing access to state-of-the art equipment, and offering job placement assistance.
Copper Mountain College
Copper Mountain College (CMC) is located in Joshua Tree, California, with Marine Base Programs in Twentynine Palms. CMC offers a wide range of programs for degree transfers, associate's degrees, and certificates for proficiency and achievement, as well as a renowned vocational nursing program to train tomorrow's healthcare professionals.
Mira Costa College
MiraCosta College is a two-year community college located in Oceanside, California, with an additional campus in Cardiff. MiraCosta College seeks to provide quality vocational nursing education to the northern San Diego area to foster student success, as well as pursue institutional excellence.
Allan Hancock College
Allan Hancock College (AHC) is a public community college located in Santa Maria, California, with additional locations in Lompoc, Solvang, and Vanderberg AFB. AHC provides quality LVN education, enhancing student learning through excellence in teaching and by finding innovative ways to enhance achievement.
Gavilan College is located in Gilroy, California, with additional locations in Hollister and Morgan Hill. Gavilan College believes in using both traditional and emerging learning practices to cultivate curriculum comprehension and personal growth in its LVN program offering, which is currently being revamped into a 3-semester program starting in 2020.
College of the Redwoods
College of the Redwoods puts student success first by providing outstanding developmental, career technical, and transfer education. The College partners with the community to contribute to the economic vitality and lifelong learning needs of its service area. Their 3-semester LVN program helps students develop the interpersonal and clinical skills needed to find gainful employment in healthcare facilities.
Santa Barbara City College
Santa Barbara City College (SBCC) is located in Santa Barbara, California. SBCC houses a mix of excellent academic programs and exceptional teachers, with small class sizes, over 80 degree programs, and more than 50 certification programs. The school accepts a new cohort of vocational nursing students every 18 months.
Annenberg School of Nursing
The Annenberg School of Nursing (ASN) is located in Reseda, California - part of the San Fernando Valley. ASN boasts an intimate learning environment where men and women are trained to become qualified healthcare practitioners. ASN prepares vocational nursing (VN) students for the NCLEX-PN licensing exam.
Tulare Adult School
Tulare Adult School located in Tulare, California, provides classes to help students achieve educational goals, allowing them to pursue the careers of their choice. Tulare's 18-month vocational nursing program trains students to work as LVNs under the supervision of registered nurses and physicians.
North Orange County ROP
North Orange County ROP has been providing high quality career and technical education for decades. The Vocational Nursing Program at North Orange County ROP is constructed to prepare adult students with the necessary knowledge and skills needed to become a Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) in California.
Bakersfield Adult School
Bakersfield Adult School has two campuses located in Bakersfield, California, offering vocational career training and workforce development, as well as GED coursework, life-long learning for older adults, English as a second language, and more. BAS's vocational nursing program requires 20-25 hours per week, plus 6-10 hour clinical days at area medical centers.
Career Development Institute
Career Development Institute (CDI) is a family-owned nursing school located in Los Angeles, California. Students receive a tailored academic experience in small classes, with free tutoring. CDI supports students by helping them reach their professional goals and personal potential.
College of the Siskiyous
College of the Siskiyous (COS) is an accredited junior college located at the base of Mt. Shasta in Weed, California, with an additional campus in Yreka. COS prides itself on its small class sizes, exceptional instructors, friendly staff, and excellent LVN program.
Mission College is a public community college located in Santa Clara, California, offering transfer options to a four-year university as well as career options, associate degree options, and workforce development options. Mission College encourages nursing student success by offering an affordable and reputable LVN program.
Sri Sai Krish Institute
Stanton's Sri Sai Krish Institute offers an LVN program that can be completed in a little over 12 months. SSKI's caring and experienced faculty guide students through hands-on training and classroom instruction to prepare them for the NCLEX-PN exam and future healthcare employment.
Located in Irvine, California, Stanbridge University is an award-winning institution that offers VN, ADN (RN), RN to BSN and MSN programs. The Vocational Nurse (LVN) program offers students training in a world-class simulation lab, three nursing skills labs, one of the largest virtual reality labs in the US with zSpace VR technology, and the first Synthetic Human Cadaver Lab on the West Coast.
Riverside City College
Riverside City College (RCC) is a two-year school offering a broad range of lower-division courses located in Riverside, California. RCC is committed to serving a diverse student population, utilizing their skilled faculty to teach students the leadership skills needed to excel as vocational nurses.
Rio Hondo College
Rio Hondo College (RHC) is a comprehensive community college located in Whittier, California. RHC offers strong career programs, a full transfer curriculum, and basic skills courses and services, as well as community service programs for workforce development. Its vocational nursing program is designed to teach students to compassionately care for patients of all ages in a variety of settings.
College of Nursing & Technology
The College of Nursing and Technology is located in Reseda, California, and is committed to providing excellent nursing education via highly-qualified instructors, consisting of PhDs, MDs, NPs, and more. The college is dedicated to delivering a dynamic vocational nursing learning experience that fully prepares grads to provide quality medical care.
Grossmont Health Occupations Center
Grossmont Health Occupations Center is located in Santee, California, just east of San Diego. The Health Occupations Center seeks to enrich the lives of community members by providing high-quality, affordable learning opportunities, helping students meet personal, academic, and workplace goals as they pursue a vocational nursing education.
Antelope Valley College
Antelope Valley College of Lancaster offers a 12-month LVN program for ambitious students. Those enrolled in the 51-unit program take courses in Nutrition, General Psychology, Fundamentals of Patient Care for Vocational Nurses, and much more. Graduates are well-prepared to sit for the NCLEX-PN examination.
Beaumont Adult School
Beaumont Adult School is part of the Beaumont Unified School District (BUSD). Their mission is to provide opportunities for students to complete both basic and secondary instruction, as well as provide additional opportunities to complete career technical training in a variety of programs, including vocational nursing.
Inland Career Education Center
The Inland Career Education Center is located in San Bernardino, California, providing personal enrichment classes, medical education, GED preparation, and various other vocational programs to prepare students for jobs throughout the community. Their year-round vocational nursing program gives students the skills and confidence needed to provide safe, patient-centered nursing care.
Fresno Adult School
Fresno Adult School's Career & Technical Education (CTE) Department offers daytime and evening classes to accommodate student needs. They offer a 53-week LVN course which weaves theory and clinical practice to prepare tomorrow's licensed vocational nurses.
Ukiah Adult School
Ukiah Adult School located in Ukiah, California, is dedicated to providing educational opportunities to adults in both academic and career training. While the school offers adult GED education and prep, it also offers LVN and other continued education courses for professional advancement in the workforce.
Southwestern College, located in the southern San Diego County city of Chula Vista, offers an LVN program for aspiring entry-level nurses. The program combines theory and clinical hours, and can be completed in 12-14 months of full-time study or 18-20 months of part-time study.
Allied Medical & Health Services, Inc.
Allied Medical and Health Services, Inc. (AMHS) is a private nursing school located in Glendale, California. AMHS's mission is to create health training programs designed to foster self-discipline, professionalism, and the ability to meet employer expectations and market demands.
Cerro Coso College
Cerro Coso Community College (CCCC) is one of three colleges in the Kern Community College District located in Ridgecrest, California, with additional locations in Bishop, Mammoth Lakes, Lake Isabella, and Edwards AFB. CCCC strives to foster student success through its intensive 1,662 hour vocational nursing program.
Stockton's Xavier College prepares future LVNs through its 11-month vocational nursing program. Guided by the school's experienced instructors, students attend classroom lectures as well as clinicals at sites including hospitals, long-term care facilties, and more.
Hartnell Community College
Hartnell Community College is located in Hartnell, California, with additional campuses in Aisal and King City. Hartnell College provides the resources to ensure students have access to a quality vocational nursing education. Its 24-month LVN program utilizes labs, simulations, and lectures to fully prepare students for a rewarding nursing career.
Citrus College is located in Glendora, California, offering high-quality instruction to support the successful completion of transfer, career education, and basic skills development. Citrus College's LVN certificate program readies students for the rigorous world of vocational nursing, imparting the necessary knowledge and skills for lasting success in the field.
Cuesta College is a public community college in San Luis Obispo County, in the Central Coast region of California. The Cuesta College Licensed Vocational Nursing (LVN) program trains students for entry-level vocational nursing positions in a variety of healthcare settings. After finishing the program, students are well prepared to conquer the NCLEX-PN.
North-West College - Long Beach
The Long Beach campus of North-West College aims to bridge the gap of the nursing shortage by training students to become competent vocational nurses. Classroom learning and clinical externships make up the curriculum of this acclaimed LVN program, with special emphasis on caring for the physical, emotional, cultural, and spiritual needs of the patient.
Bakersfield College is one the nation's oldest continually-operating community colleges. Located in northeast Bakersfield, the college is committed to providing excellent learning opportunities for students so they may achieve informed educational goals. BC's 44-unit LVN program readies students for a number of entry-level employment opportunities in hospitals, clinics, and more.
Carrington College - Sacramento
Carrington College of California is located in Sacramento, California, with other locations in Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hills, Pomona, San Jose, San Leandro, and Stockton. Carrington College strives to help the student meet his or her goals through its comprehensive LVN program curriculum.
Palo Verde College
Palo Verde Community College, located in the city of Blythe, offers a 3-semester LVN program that accepts 15 students at a time. With no wait list, students can dive right into their VN studies, to include instruction in human anatomy, medical terminology, and more.
Madera Community College Center
Madera Community College Center's 3-semester LVN program utilizes an intensive curriculum of nursing theory and hands-on skills to train students to become competent and caring nurses. Upon graduating, students are well-prepared to pass the NCLEX-PN and find employment at area hospitals, medical facilities, and more.
Unitek College - Sacramento
The Sacramento campus of Unitek College offers students in California's capital city a 900+ hour vocational nursing program. With the growing need for qualified LVNs, Unitek's program helps to bridge the gap and get qualified vocational nurses into the workplace.
Sacramento City College
Sacramento City College's LVN program is 3 semesters in length, with 12 units taken per semester. Upon successful completion of SCC's innovative program, students can earn their vocational nursing certificate and even move on to the school's associate degree program to enter registered nursing.
Hacienda La Puente Adult Education
Hacienda La Puente Adult Education offers numerous career pathways for students, including a vocational nursing program designed to produce compassionate and skilled LVNs. Students have the option of earning their LVN certificate or moving on to the registered nursing ADN program.
West Coast Ultrasound Institute - Ontario
Ontario's West Coast Ultrasound Institute, known simply as WCUI, prepares students for an exciting and rewarding career in vocational nursing through their LVN diploma program. WCUI offers weekday, weekend, and evening courses to fit the schedules of even the busiest students, transitioning them into practice through lectures and clinical experiences.
Merced Community College
Merced Community College delivers a quality LVN program through experienced faculty and staff. Students are able to earn a certificate in vocational nursing, or upon completion of MCC's general education requirements, they can earn an Associate in Arts degree in vocational nursing.
Career Care Institute - Lancaster
Career Care Institute offers an LVN program out of its Lancaster campus, training students to provide bedside care as vocational nurses. CCI's program takes just 14 months to complete, and students begin hands-on clinicals after the first 6 weeks of instruction.
Concorde Career College - North Hollywood
Concorde Career College's North Hollywood location prepares excellent LVNs in as little as 12 months. With real-world training and off-site clinical experiences, CCC's graduates are leaders in their workplaces, which include hospitals, long-term care facilities, and medical centers.
San Joaquin Valley College - Fresno
College of the Redwoods - Del Norte Education Center
College of the Redwoods (CR) is located in Crescent City, California, with additional campuses located in Eureka and Fort Bragg, as well as instructional sites in Hoopa and Garberville. CR strives to provide an outstanding 3-semester, 18-month vocational nursing program to prepare the next generation of entry-level nurses.
Clovis Adult Education School
Clovis Adult Education's vocational nursing program aims to prepare confident LVNs in 18-20 months of study. The program is offered twice a year, in January and September, and students attend class 3 days a week. Upon completion, graduates are fully prepared for the NCLEX-PN examination.
Concorde Career College - San Diego
Concorde Career College is located in San Diego, California, with multiple campuses located nationwide, offering hands-on healthcare training that's both affordable and convenient. CCC's LVN program can be completed in just 12 months and prepares students to provide patient care under the direction of a physician or RN.
Homestead Schools, Inc.
Torrance's Homestead Schools, Inc. provides an LVN program to help alleviate the nationwide nursing shortage. With caring instructors, financial aid opportunities, and student support, Homestead gives students what they need to find success in the vocational nursing field.
Baldy View Regional Occupational Program
Baldy View Regional Occupational Program (ROP) is located in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and seeks to inspire lifelong learning and making informed career choices, while also empowering students in both new and established fields. Baldy View is committed to building an environment of excellence with a clear vision of success for all of its students.
Continued List of All Programs in California
Unitek College - Concord
1401 Willow Pass Rd., Concord, CA 94520
Concorde Career College - San Bernardino
201 East Airport Drive, San Bernardino, CA 92408
American Career College - Ontario
3130 Sedona Ct, Ontario, CA 91764
Charles A. Jones Career & Education Center
5451 Lemon Hill Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95824
Los Medanos College
2700 E Leland Rd, Pittsburg, CA 94565
High Desert Medical College
701 W Avenue K, Lancaster, CA 93534
Platt College - Alhambra
1000 South Fremont Avenue, Building A9W, Alhambra, CA 91803
College of the Desert
43-500 Monterey Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260
Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts - Modesto
4712 Stoddard Road, Suite 200, Modesto, CA 95356
Unitek College - Hayward
21615 Hesperian Blvd, Hayward, CA 94541
Imperial Valley College
380 E Aten Rd, Imperial, CA 92251
West Coast Ultrasound Institute - Los Angeles
3580 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90010
3440 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 310, Los Angeles, CA 90010
Unitek College - Bakersfield
333 Palmer Dr. Suite 200, Bakersfield, CA 93309
Unitek College - South San Francisco
257 Longford Drive #5, South San Francisco, CA 94080
Professional Medical Careers Institute
920 Hampshire Rd, Westlake Village, CA 91361
American Career College - Los Angeles
4021 Rosewood Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004
Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts - Fresno
7335 North Palm Bluffs Avenue, Fresno, CA 93711
3160 Red Hill Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Santa Barbara Business College - Bakersfield
5300 California Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93309
North-West College - West Covina
2121 W. Garvey Ave. North, West Covina, CA 91790
North-West College - Pasadena
530 E. Union St., Pasadena, CA 91101
Pasadena City College
1570 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106
Visalia Adult School
3110 E Houston Ave, Visalia, CA 93292
Marian College - Van Nuys
5900 N. Sepulveda Boulevard, Suite 101, Van Nuys, CA 91411
Glendale Career College
240 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203
American Career College - Orange County
1200 N Magnolia Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801
El Monte – Rosemead Adult School
10807 Ramona Blvd, El Monte, CA 91731
Unitek College - Fremont
4670 Auto Mall Pkwy, Fremont, CA 94538
970 Klamath Ln, Yuba City, CA 95993
Concorde Career College - Garden Grove
12951 S Euclid St #101, Garden Grove, CA 92840
Blake Austin College
611 Orange Drive Suite K, Vacaville, CA 95687
North-West College - Riverside
4550 La Sierra Avenue, Riverside, CA 92505
Unitek College - San Jose
6800 Santa Teresa Blvd Ste. 200, San Jose, CA 95119
Healthcare Career College
8527 Alondra Blvd, Suite #174, Paramount, CA 90723
Summit College - Colton
851 South Cooley Drive, Colton, CA 92324
Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts - Concord
1401 Willow Pass Rd, Concord, CA 94520
Marian College - Los Angeles
3325 Wilshire Boulevard, 10th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90010
North-West College - Pomona
134 W. Holt Ave., Pomona, CA 91768
11555 Old Oregon Trail, Redding, CA 96003
Career Care Institute - Oxnard
2051 Solar Dr, Oxnard, CA 93036
National Career College
14355 Roscoe Blvd., Panorama City, CA 91402
Premiere Career College
12901 Ramona Blvd, Irwindale, CA 91706
California Career College
7003 Owensmouth Ave, Canoga Park, CA 91303
401 S Glenoaks Blvd #211, Burbank, CA 91502
Career Care Institute - Moreno Valley
22500 Town Circle, Suite 2205, Moreno Valley, CA 92553
Long Beach City College
4901 Carson St, Long Beach, CA 90808
Curam College of Nursing
6520 44th St, Sacramento, CA 95823
Carrington College - San Jose
6201 San Ignacio Ave., San Jose, CA 95119
Santa Barbara Business College - Rancho Mirage
34275 Monterey Avenue, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts - San Mateo
2121 South El Camino Real, Building C-200, San Mateo, CA 94403
City College of San Francisco
50 Phelan Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112
5885 Haven Avenue, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91737
Institute of Technology - Redding
1755 Hilltop Drive, Redding, CA 96002
Downey Adult School
12340 Woodruff Ave, Downey, CA 90241
Feather River College
570 Golden Eagle Ave, Quincy, CA 95971
University of Antelope Valley
44055 Sierra Hwy, Lancaster, CA 93534
California Career Institute - Garden Grove
12141 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92841
702 Town and Country Rd, Orange, CA 92868
11688 South Street, Suite 205, Artesia, CA 90701
California Nurses Educational Institute
5200 Ramon Rd #1, Palm Springs, CA 92264
13180 Paramount Blvd, South Gate, CA 90280
Institute of Technology - Clovis
564 W. Herndon Avenue, Clovis, CA 93612
Institute of Technology - Modesto
5601 Stoddard Road, Modesto, CA 95356
3536 Butte Campus Dr, Oroville, CA 95965
Lassen Community College
478-200 Hwy 139, Susanville, CA 96130
Napa Valley College
2277 Napa-Vallejo Highway, Napa, CA 94558
Programs Not Included In Rankings
Eastern Sierra College Center
101 College Parkway, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
Saint Joseph’s School of Nursing
816 W. Lancaster Blvd., Lancaster, CA 93536
Are we missing your school's program or need to make changes to the information listed? Please contact us.
Additional CA Nursing Resources
- California Board of Vocational Nursing 2535 Capitol Oaks Drive, Suite 205 Sacramento, CA 95833 Phone: (916) 263-7800
- American Nurses Association of California 1121 L Street, Suite 406 Sacramento, CA 95814 (916) 346-4590
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