Your Licensed Vocational Nurse Career in California

Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) are in growing demand across the country along with their counterparts, Licensed Practical Nurses. In fact, these two terms describe the same healthcare role: medically trained nurses who serve patients under the supervision of a Registered Nurse (RN) or doctor.

In California and Texas, these healthcare workers are called Licensed Vocational Nurses, while every other state calls them Licensed Practical Nurses. Vocational Nurses are trained to take patients’ vital signs, watch for and report symptoms, administer CPR in an emergency and communicate with patients regarding care.

There were 724,500 LVNs employed across the country in 2016, according to the Projections Managing Partnership (PMP). That number is predicted to grow 12.3 percent by the year 2026, which means these workers will continue to be in high demand.

How to Become an LVN

To become an LVN, you must first graduate from high school or earn a GED. Then, you will need to complete an LVN training program approved by the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT).

Graduates of LVN training can then take the national NCLEX-PN exam, which is required to obtain their California license from the BVNPT. This nationally required nursing exam is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

California-Approved Vocational Nursing Schools

The end goal after completing a year of Vocational Nursing study is to be able to pass the NCLEX-PN exam. Here are some state-approved schools in California that offer excellent LVN programs:

  • Carrington College. With locations in Sacramento and San Jose, this school offers a few certificate and degree options for those who want to study nursing. For the LVN certificate, students complete a 48-week course of study that consists of 54 credit-hours. After graduation with a certificate, students are prepared to take the NCLEX-PN exam.
  • Riverside City College (RCC). This school’s graduates boast a pass rate of 98.6 percent on the NCLEX-PN exam, showing that it’s a great option for Californians who want to become Vocational Nurses. Approved by the California BVNPT, RCC offers a one-year certificate in Vocational Nursing while teaching students top skills in the healthcare field. Perquisites for this school include three science courses (11 credits) and at least a 2.0 GPA from high school or GED completion.
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Steps to Your Vocational Nurse License

Vocational Nurse Licensing is granted by the BVNPT department of California. Requirements include:

  • That applicant is at least 17 years old
  • Successful completion of high school or its equivalent
  • Completion of an LVN education program approved by the BVNPT
  • Passing of the NCLEX-PN exam

California’s Demand for Licensed Vocational Nurses

The job market for LVNs in California is booming. In 2016, there were 69,400 Vocational Nurses employed across the state. That number is projected to increase 17 percent by the year 2026, according to the PMP. This is a very promising growth rate and higher than that of the nation as a whole, which is expected to increase by 12.3 percent in that same timeframe.

LVNs in California also receive excellent pay compared to the national average, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). At a mean income of $25.77 per hour or $53,600 annually, California’s Vocational Nurses are among the highest paid in the country.

LVNs Across the State of California

Following the state’s population density, Los Angeles employs the highest number of LVNs out of all California areas. Almost 45,000 Vocational Nurses were employed in the L.A. area in 2017, according to the BLS. Other areas of high LVN employment were Riverside, San Francisco and Anaheim. Higher paying cities for LVNs in California include Oakland, Santa Rosa, Napa and San Jose.

With so much evidence pointing to Licensed Vocational Nursing becoming an excellent career field in California, anyone interested in healthcare should consider this field. LVNs can always bridge their earlier education and study to become RNs while gaining valuable workplace experience in the meantime.

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How much do licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses earn in the state of California?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses in the state of California made an average of $60,240 per year in 2019. Entry-level licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses earned around $43,030 and some experienced professionals earned salaries as high as $80,020.

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