Start Your Nursing Career With These 20 Best LVN Programs in California

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Updated April 24, 2024
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Licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic patient care, including taking vitals, helping with bathing and dressing, changing bandages, and offering other support as needed. While no difference exists between LVNs and licensed practical nurses (LPNs), Texas and California are the only states that call these nurses LVNs.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects there will be 34,900 new jobs for LVNs between 2022 and 2032, making it a great time to consider this growing healthcare career.

How To Get Into LVN Programs in California

To get into an LVN program in California, you must typically meet the following requirements:

Once enrolled, you need to complete all curricular requirements, which includes 1,530 theoretical and clinical hours.

Online LVN students must still participate in in-person clinical rotations, but they can often complete theoretical coursework online. After meeting all requirements, you’ll earn a diploma, certificate, or associate degree.

Did You Know?


  • chevron-right You’ll need to complete 1,530 total curricular hours to work as an LVN in California.
  • chevron-right Most LVN programs in California require 12-14 months of full-time study or 18-20 months of part-time study.
  • chevron-right Nearly 150 colleges, high schools, private schools, and regional occupational centers offer LVN programs in California.

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Top LVN Programs in California

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#1 Best LVN Programs in California

Los Medanos College

  • Location-markerPittsburg, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,288
  • Out-of-state$8,540
  • Retention Rate73%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled9,435
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment24%
  • AccreditationNo
#2 Best LVN Programs in California

Napa Valley College

  • Location-markerNapa, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,104
  • Out-of-state$7,464
  • Retention Rate77%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled5,292
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment33%
  • AccreditationNo
#3 Best LVN Programs in California

City College of San Francisco

  • Location-markerSan Francisco, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$0
  • Out-of-state$6,968
  • Retention Rate73%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled24,441
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment29%
  • AccreditationNo
#4 Best LVN Programs in California

Pasadena City College

  • Location-markerPasadena, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,104
  • Out-of-state$7,488
  • Retention Rate79%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled26,971
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment23%
  • AccreditationNo
#5 Best LVN Programs in California

College of the Redwoods

  • Location-markerEureka, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,143
  • Out-of-state$6,783
  • Retention Rate52%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled4,665
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment30%
  • AccreditationNo
#6 Best LVN Programs in California

MiraCosta College

  • Location-markerOceanside, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,104
  • Out-of-state$7,464
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled12,992
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment54%
  • AccreditationNo
#7 Best LVN Programs in California

Butte College

  • Location-markerOroville, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,104
  • Out-of-state$6,720
  • Retention Rate67%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled10,100
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment34%
  • AccreditationNo
#8 Best LVN Programs in California

Allan Hancock College

  • Location-markerSanta Maria, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,288
  • Out-of-state$7,440
  • Retention Rate67%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled11,894
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment30%
  • AccreditationNo
#9 Best LVN Programs in California

Gavilan College

  • Location-markerGilroy, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,104
  • Out-of-state$7,152
  • Retention Rate69%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled5,573
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment37%
  • AccreditationNo
#10 Best LVN Programs in California

College of the Desert

  • Location-markerPalm Desert, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,297
  • Out-of-state$8,577
  • Retention Rate72%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled11,919
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment29%
  • AccreditationNo
#11 Best LVN Programs in California

Charles A. Jones Career and Education Center

  • Location-markerSacramento, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$0
  • Out-of-state$0
  • Retention Rate79%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled243
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationYes
#12 Best LVN Programs in California

Santa Barbara City College

  • Location-markerSanta Barbara, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,380
  • Out-of-state$8,140
  • Retention Rate64%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled14,133
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment43%
  • AccreditationNo
#13 Best LVN Programs in California

Hartnell College

  • Location-markerSalinas, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,400
  • Out-of-state$8,940
  • Retention Rate73%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled13,024
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment17%
  • AccreditationNo
#14 Best LVN Programs in California

Cuesta College

  • Location-markerSan Luis Obispo, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,288
  • Out-of-state$8,848
  • Retention Rate71%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled11,281
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment35%
  • AccreditationNo
#15 Best LVN Programs in California

Citrus College

  • Location-markerGlendora, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,104
  • Out-of-state$7,560
  • Retention Rate69%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled13,130
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment37%
  • AccreditationNo
#16 Best LVN Programs in California

Southwestern College

  • Location-markerChula Vista, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,288
  • Out-of-state$7,420
  • Retention Rate75%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled19,231
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment34%
  • AccreditationNo
#17 Best LVN Programs in California

Sacramento City College

  • Location-markerSacramento, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$0
  • Out-of-state$7,824
  • Retention Rate66%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled20,829
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment37%
  • AccreditationNo
#18 Best LVN Programs in California

Feather River Community College District

  • Location-markerQuincy, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,380
  • Out-of-state$9,360
  • Retention Rate100%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled2,058
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment40%
  • AccreditationNo
#19 Best LVN Programs in California

Imperial Valley College

  • Location-markerImperial, CA
  • 2 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$1,104
  • Out-of-state$6,024
  • Retention Rate77%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled8,511
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment27%
  • AccreditationNo
#20 Best LVN Programs in California

Homestead Schools

  • Location-markerTorrance, CA
  • 4 year
  • Campus
Average Tuition
  • In-State$0
  • Out-of-state$0
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled182
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment4%
  • AccreditationYes

Why Accreditation Matters for LVN Programs in California

Accreditation matters a great deal when it comes to LVN programs in California. You should only attend a school that holds institutional accreditation and an LVN program that holds programmatic accreditation.

Look for schools accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). At the programmatic level, prioritize LVN programs accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Failing to follow either of these steps could cause you difficulties when seeking licensure or finding a job.

What Courses Do You Take in an LVN Program?

Though courses in LVN programs in California can vary, LVN coursework generally emphasizes the knowledge and skills you’ll need to be able to work in clinics, long-term care facilities, and other healthcare settings.

Coursework can focus on surgical, maternity, or pediatric nursing. Most programs, even online LVN programs in California, require in-person labs and clinicals so that students can apply their skills in a real-world setting.

Here are some common courses you’ll see in LVN programs:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • General psychology
  • Introduction to pharmacology
  • Maternal-child-adult health
  • Medical administration
  • Nutrition

How Much Do LVNs Make in California?

Median Annual LVN/LPN Salaries in California, 2023
RegionTotal EmploymentMedian Annual SalaryMedian Hourly Salary
California79,150$75,610$36.35
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA3,290$84,500$40.63
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA8,580$83,650$40.22
Napa, CA280$78,680$37.83
Santa Rosa, CA900$78,560$37.77
Salinas, CA680$77,750$37.38
Sacramento—Roseville—Arden-Arcade, CA4,410$77,270$37.15
Vallejo-Fairfield, CA800$76,280$36.68
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA31,710$75,570$36.33
Source: BLS

California offers the highest median annual salary for LVNs, making it a great place to start your nursing career. California LVNs earned a mean salary of $76,580 in 2023, according to the BLS.

LVNs work in myriad settings that can affect their earning potential. Common work environments include hospitals, clinics, correctional facilities, home care agencies, and doctor’s offices.

If you want to take your career to the next level, consider pursuing an LPN-to-RN or LPN-to-BSN bridge program to become a registered nurse (RN). In 2023, RNs earned a median salary of $86,070.

Do You Need LVN Licensure in California?

Just like RNs, LVNs must have a state-issued license to practice in California.

In addition to earning a vocational nursing degree or certificate, you must pass the NCLEX-PN, an exam that tests your knowledge of practical nursing concepts.

Other licensure requirements include passing a criminal background check and paying a fee. The Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT) takes about 4-6 weeks to process an application.

LVNs who have a license in another state can practice in California if they meet certain requirements, such as proof of passing the NCLEX-PN.

California LVNs can improve their employability and earning potential by supplementing their license with optional postgraduate certifications from private organizations.

Here are some common LVN certifications you can get:

Frequently Asked Questions About LVN Programs in California

question-mark-circleHow long is an LVN program in California?

According to BVNPT, LVN programs can last between 12 and 20 months, depending on whether you choose a full-time or part-time course of study.

question-mark-circleWhat are the requirements to become an LVN in California?

You can become an LVN in California by completing an approved vocational nursing program or by gaining equivalent experience and education. This includes 54 hours of pharmacology, 51 months of paid bedside nursing experience, and skill proficiency verification, according to BVNPT.

question-mark-circleHow much is an LVN program in California?

The cost of LVN programs in California can vary drastically, so it’s important you check costs for several options before committing to a program. At Pasadena City College, for example, students pay $46 per credit, or $4,463 for the entire LVN program.

question-mark-circleWhat does an LVN do in California?

As an LVN, you can work in a variety of healthcare settings to provide basic nursing care under the supervision of an RN or doctor. You can also work one-on-one in a home healthcare setting, provide extended care in a long-term care facility, or offer support in a doctor’s office.

question-mark-circleHow much do LVNs make per hour in California?

According to the BLS, LVNs in California earned an average hourly rate of $36.82 in 2023, which comes out to an average salary of $76,580.


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