Becoming an LVN 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 a 12% growth in employment for the industry, leading many to pursue this career pathway. California LVNs enjoy an average hourly wage of $25.32, or $52,670, making it one of the highest paying states for this popular field.
For those seeking to become a Licensed Vocational Nurse in the state of California, choosing a program that meets state requirements is imperative for licensure. California has almost 130 state-approved LVN programs made up of community colleges, technical centers and vocational high schools, as well as private career schools. After careful review of NCLEX-PN exam pass-rates over the past several years, across the state of California, we've compiled and ranked the top 50 programs in the state. For more information on school 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 $3,713 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 eNLC
California is not a Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) state, so the new eNLC regulations do not apply here.
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.
For detailed information about LVN endorsement by application in California check out:
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, Glendale||21,170||$23.86||$49,630|
|Riverside, San Bernardino, Ontario||7,000||$22.45||$46,700|
|Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine||6,860||$24.65||$51,270|
|San Diego, Carlsbad||4,870||$25.87||$53,810|
|Oakland, Hayward, Berkeley||4,430||$28.78||$59,870|
|San Jose, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara||2,200||$28.36||$58,990|
|Sacramento, Roseville, Arden, Arcade||2,170||$28.21||$58,680|
|San Francisco, Redwood City, South San Francisco||1,960||$29.72||$61,820|
|Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Ventura||920||$25.04||$52,070|
|Santa Maria, Santa Barbara||560||$27.57||$57,340|
|San Luis Obispo, Paso Robles, Arroyo Grande||490||$25.40||$52,830|
|Santa Cruz, Watsonville||420||$24.99||$51,990|
For those interested in advancing their nursing career, see our California LVN to RN/BSN programs page.
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 it students by helping them reach their professional goals by identifying their potential.
Riverside City College (RCC) is a two-year school offering a broad range of lower-division courses located in Riverside, California. RCC not only provides a rich diversity in the ways students can serve their community while gaining important life-experiences, but they also aspire to change the way education is pursued, introducing clinical curriculum.
San Bernardino Adult School is part of the San Bernardino City Unified School District 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.
Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) is located in Santa Rosa, California with additional campuses and centers in Petaluma, Windsor, and Forestville. SRJC culminates learning through creative, intellectual, and physical development, as well as development using social, emotional, and aesthetic factors, focusing on the student and improving his or her foundation skills.
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 Continuing Education division of SBCC has multiple locations and include short term vocational programs, English as a second language, and adult GED programs.
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 education, enhancing student learning through excellence in teaching and by finding innovative ways to enhance achievement. AHC is ranked one of the five best community colleges in California.
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. Classes are offered on traditional 16-week semesters as well as a variety of non-traditional scheduling options.
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 great career and support programs.
Santa Barbara Business (SBB) College located in Central Coast wine country in Santa Maria, California, with additional locations in Bakersfield, Rancho Mirage, Santa Barbara, and Venture. SBB strives to provide quality training and degree programs to meet a variety of career needs, emphasizing learning, providing access to state-of-the art equipment, and offering job placement assistance.
Concorde Career College is located in San Diego, California, with multiple other campuses located nationwide, offering hands-on healthcare training that's not only affordable, but it also fits any schedule. While they have specialized training and career options, Concorde Career College also has entry-level programs that can be complete in a short 9 months.
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 learning and personal growth by offering courses for career and technical education, developmental education, and support services for workforce development.
Mr. San Jacinto College (MSJC) is la comprehensive community college located in San Jacinto, California, with additional campuses in Menifee, Temecula, and Banning. MSJC offers courses and programs for transfer requirements to a four-year university, as well as a variety of vocational and technical programs to prepare students for rewarding careers.
Tulare Adult School located in Tulare, California, providing classes to help achieve educational goals and allows students to pursue the careers of their choice. With small classes and dedicated faculty, Tulare Adult School is dedicated to providing exceptional education to meet the goals of the community.
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 outstanding developmental, career technical, and transfer education to ensure the success of their students.
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. With a commitment to student success, RHC strive to provide dynamic educational opportunities and resources to develop life-long learning.
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.
Beaumont Adult School is part of the Beaumont Unified School District (BUSD) in Beaumont California. 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.
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. Bakersfield Adult School is committed to providing quality education and career skills to adult throughout Kern County.
Los Medanos College is a public community college located in Pittsburg, California, with an additional center located in Brentwood. By focusing on student learning and success, Los Medanos College aims to not only help students build their abilities and competencies as lifelong learners, but they also create excellence by continuously assessing student learning.
Mission College it 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 student success my offering an affordable high-quality experience.
MiraCosta College is a two-year community college located in Oceanside, California, with an additional campus in Oceanside and one in Cardiff, as well as several off-campus locations in the area. MiraCosta College seeks to provide quality assurance and dedication of resources and processes to foster student success, as well as pursue institutional excellence.
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.
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 by creating opportunities and positive experiences.
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 state licensing exam, the NCLEX-PN.
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 GED education and workforce development and continuing education.
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.
Imperial Valley College (IVC) is located in Imperial, California. IVC seeks to foster excellence in challenging education to help develop student intellect, character, and abilities, helping them achieve their career goals through a variety of services and programs, offering degrees, certifications, and continued education for workforce development.
Butte College is a public community college located in Oroville, California, with additional centers located in Chico and Orland. Butte College provide opportunities for transfer and associate's degrees and short-term certificates for those looking to achieve a new skill or advance in the workplace.
Concorde Career Center is located in San Bernardino, California, with many other campuses nationwide, offering hands-on healthcare training that's not only flexible, but it's also affordable. These short, hands-on healthcare programs with specialized training and degree programs, allow students to start their careers in as few as 9 months.
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 seeks to advance as a dynamic center for life-long learning as well as increase career development and award occupational certificates and degrees for career preparation and advancement.
Check out the official Concorde Career College, North Hollywood nursing program.
North-West College (NWC) is located in Riverside, California, with additional campuses in Santa Ana, West Covina, Glendale, Long Beach, Pomona, and Pasadena. NWC's professional faculty prepare students as Pharmacy Technicians, Vocational Nurses, Medical Assistants, and in Surgical Technology, in a friendly environment.
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 the quality education to achieve their goals while preparing them for productive participation in a changing world.
Blake Austin College has two campuses located in Vacaville, California; a short drive from both Napa and Sacramento. Blake Austin College believes in providing quality education in an environment that promotes self-discipline, motivation, and excellence, as well as covering material that is relevant to current employment demands, attempting to provide real-world, hands-on training and licensure preparation.
Grossmont Health Occupations Center is located in Santee, California. Grossmont seeks to enrich the lives of community members by providing high-quality, affordable learning opportunities, helping students meet personal, academic, and workplace goals, while also helping learners seek continuing academic and career training.
Follow the link to learn more about the Merced Community College nursing program.
Learn more by visiting the Unitek College, Sacramento nursing website.
College of Nursing and Technology is located in Reseda, California, and is committed to providing excellent nursing educations via highly-qualified constructors, consisting of PhDs, MDs, Pas, NPs, BSs, and MSs. The college is dedicated to delivering a dynamic learning experience that not only enriches and enhances the student's life, but it also empowers them in their future 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 Lab in the US with zSpace VR technology, and the first Synthetic Human Cadaver Lab on the West Coast.
Get all the program details by visiting the Sacramento City College website.
Unitek College is a privately held vocational school located in Fremont, California, with additional campuses located in San Jose and Sacramento. Unitek College offers education options, allowing students to complete some programs in as little as 9 months. Their programs feature modern labs that simulate real-work settings with outstanding instruction designed for success.
Visit the Feather River College nursing website to learn more.
Get all the program details by visiting the Professional Medical Careers Institute website.
Visit the Clovis Adult Education School nursing website to learn more.
Get all the program details by visiting the Unitek College - Hayward website.
Long Beach City College (LBCC) has two locations in Long Beach, California, with an Economic & Resource Development center in Lakewood. LBCC promotes student learning and achievement and academic excellence, as well as workforce development by way of high-quality education and support services.
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. We continually assess student learning and institutional performance and practices to improve upon the programs and services we offer.
Get all the program details by visiting the Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts, Modesto website.
Follow the link to learn more about the Southern California Medical College nursing program.
Continued List of All Programs in California
3000 College Heights Blvd, Ridgecrest, CA 93555
12951 S Euclid St #101, Garden Grove, CA 92840
1901 Charcot Ave, San Jose, CA 95131
3130 Sedona Ct, Ontario, CA 91764
295 E Sierra Ave, Fresno, CA 93710
3700 E. Inland Empire Blvd. Suite 235, Ontario, CA 91764
702 Town and Country Rd, Orange, CA 92868
478-200 Hwy 139, Susanville, CA 96130
7335 North Palm Bluffs Avenue, Fresno, CA 93711
530 E. Union St., Pasadena, CA 91101
240 N Brand Blvd, Glendale, CA 91203
1755 Hilltop Drive, Redding, CA 96002
10807 Ramona Blvd, El Monte, CA 91731
5885 Haven Avenue, Rancho Cucamonga, CA 91737
730 S. Central Ave Ste 208, Glendale, CA 91204
851 South Cooley Drive, Colton, CA 92324
5900 N. Sepulveda Boulevard, Suite 101, Van Nuys, CA 91411
1214 Indiana Ct, Redlands, CA 92374
12340 Woodruff Ave, Downey, CA 90241
2121 W. Garvey Ave. North, West Covina, CA 91790
11688 South Street, Suite 205, Artesia, CA 90701
43-500 Monterey Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260
5200 Ramon Rd #1, Palm Springs, CA 92264
3110 E Houston Ave, Visalia, CA 93292
257 Longford Drive, Rm 5, South San Francisco, CA 94080
14101 E Nelson Ave, La Puente, CA 91746
44055 Sierra Hwy, Lancaster, CA 93534
13180 Paramount Blvd, South Gate, CA 90280
3799 E Burnett St., Long Beach, CA 90815
1130 N El Dorado St, Stockton, CA 95202
34275 Monterey Avenue, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
1149 West 190th Street, Suite 2000, Gardena, CA 90248
11555 Old Oregon Trail, Redding, CA 96003
134 W. Holt Ave., Pomona, CA 91768
2121 South El Camino Real, Building C-200, San Mateo, CA 94403
7445 Mission Valley Road, Suite 105, San Diego, CA 92108
43770 15th Street West, Suite 115, Lancaster, CA 93534
50 Phelan Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112
3041 West Avenue K, Lancaster, CA 93536
1401 Willow Pass Rd, Concord, CA 94520
1855 Gateway Blvd # 180, Concord, CA 94520
43770 15th St W, Lancaster, CA 93534
3325 Wilshire Boulevard, 10th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90010
6725 Kester Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91405
380 Civic Drive, Suite 300, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
1200 N Magnolia Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801
291 S La Cienega Blvd #500, Beverly Hills, CA 90211
23800 Hawthorne Blvd., Suite 200, Torrance, CA 90505
3680 E Imperial Hwy, Lynwood, CA 90262
7003 Owensmouth Ave, Canoga Park, CA 91303
5300 California Ave, Bakersfield, CA 93309
330 E Yosemite Ave, Merced, CA 95340
1570 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91106
4021 Rosewood Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90004
5451 Lemon Hill Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95824
1360 South Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92805-6205
12901 Ramona Blvd, Irwindale, CA 91706
6201 San Ignacio Ave., San Jose, CA 95119
12141 Brookhurst St, Garden Grove, CA 92841
7850 Edgewater Dr., Oakland, CA 94621
6520 44th St, Sacramento, CA 95823
22500 Town Circle, Suite 2205, Moreno Valley, CA 92553
1056 N Bush St, Ukiah, CA 95482
3031 Tisch Way, San Jose, CA 95128
401 S Glenoaks Blvd #211, Burbank, CA 91502
100 E. College Ave., Porterville, CA 93257
970 Klamath Ln, Yuba City, CA 95993
816 W. Lancaster Blvd., Lancaster, CA 93536
12540 S. Crenshaw Blvd., Hawthorne, CA 90250
2277 Napa-Vallejo Highway, Napa, CA 94558
900 Otay Lakes Rd, Chula Vista, CA 91910
30277 Avenue 12, Madera, CA 93638
701 W Avenue K, Lancaster, CA 93534
3440 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 310, Los Angeles, CA 90010
1000 South Fremont Avenue, Building A9W, Alhambra, CA 91803
5151 Pacific Ave, Stockton, CA 95207
1 College Dr, Blythe, CA 92225
Programs Not Included In Rankings
225 W Broadway #115, Glendale, CA 91204
101 College Parkway, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
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
- To gain clarity, let’s explore the history of the LPN/LVN in the United States. Long before there were nursing schools,…
- When choosing a career in the nursing profession, it is important for individuals to know the differences between a Certified…
- When embarking on a career in the nursing field, many students may not be aware of the differences between the…
- So, you are thinking about a practical nursing degree or maybe you are already in a program, I am willing…
- Many people might not know the exact difference between a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and a Registered Nurse (RN). Although…