LVN Programs in California

FIND PROGRAMS is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Like the nursing profession as a whole, California is expected to see a boom in the amount of jobs available for licensed vocational nurses (LVNs). In fact, California’s Labor Market Information Division reports there will be an increase of more than 25 percent in LVN jobs across California, which amounts to almost 16,000 additional positions. And this figure does not include jobs that will become available when current LVNs reach retirement – those replacement openings alone equate to 14,800 LVN jobs.

With so many expected employment opportunities in the state, this is a great time to enroll in one of California’s 96 LVN degree programs. These one to two year programs prepare nurses for work in hospitals, nursing homes, doctor’s offices, and similar medical facilities across California. Read on to learn more about California LVN programs, state licensing requirements, and employment trends across the state.

Top LVN Programs in California

Methodology +
Lpn Programs

The top LPN programs listed in this state's ranking were determined by comparison of three primary, equally-weighted criteria including

  • Student-to-faculty ratio
  • In-state tuition
  • Graduation rate

Additional details for each school were included:

  • Count of programs available
  • Public and not-for-profit schools
  • Normalized on a 100 percent curve

The methodology used for tie-break is as follows...

  • Ties are broken based on lowest average net price for full-time, first-time undergraduates paying in-state tuition (average cost of tuition and expenses after grants and scholarships).
  • If necessary, the lowest in-state tuition rate is used as a second tie-break
Rank School Name Score Tuition Student/Teacher ratio Graduation Rate
1 Napa Valley College 92.33 $$$$$ 21:1 31%
2 Pasadena City College 92 $$$$$ 20:1 32%
3 College of the Siskiyous 91.33 $$$$$ 15:1 28%
4 Saddleback College 90.67 $$$$$ 26:1 35%
5 Santa Rosa Junior College 87.33 $$$$$ 23:1 34%
6 Copper Mountain Community College 86 $$$$$ 15:1 17%
7 Antelope Valley College 85.33 $$$$$ 26:1 24%
8 Mission College 85 $$$$$ 21:1 25%
9 City College of San Francisco 84.67 $$$$$ 20:1 27%
10 Lassen Community College 84.67 $$$$$ 19:1 16%
11 National University 84.33 $$$$$ 20:1 40%
12 Cuesta College 83.67 $$$$$ 24:1 28%
13 Los Medanos College 83.33 $$$$$ 24:1 31%
14 MiraCosta College 83 $$$$$ 29:1 32%
15 Gavilan College 82.67 $$$$$ 23:1 26%
16 Sacramento City College 82.33 $$$$$ 28:1 24%
17 San Joaquin Delta College 81.33 $$$$$ 38:1 27%
18 Citrus College 81 $$$$$ 30:1 33%
19 Yuba College 81 $$$$$ 27:1 24%
20 Butte College 80.33 $$$$$ 24:1 30%
21 College of the Redwoods 79.67 $$$$$ 19:1 11%
22 Feather River College 79.67 $$$$$ 22:1 29%
23 Merritt College 79.67 $$$$$ 23:1 11%
24 Chaffey College 78.67 $$$$$ 26:1 21%
25 Reedley College 78.33 $$$$$ 27:1 25%
26 Allan Hancock College 78.33 $$$$$ 24:1 26%
27 Merced College 78 $$$$$ 28:1 19%
28 Porterville College 77.33 $$$$$ 27:1 27%
29 San Diego City College 77 $$$$$ 27:1 14%
30 Long Beach City College 76.67 $$$$$ 28:1 24%
31 Shasta College 76.67 $$$$$ 25:1 19%
32 Riverside City College 75.67 $$$$$ 27:1 29%
33 Cerro Coso Community College 74.33 $$$$$ 26:1 19%
34 Santa Barbara City College 72.67 $$$$$ 49:1 33%

Finding an LVN Program in California

In order to work as an LVN in California, individuals will need to complete proper education and training. Community colleges, private schools, and occupational centers are among the institutions where LVN degree programs can be found in California. The following search tool can help users narrow down their search based on individual needs and preferences. Browse your options and start comparing schools to find the best match.

Explore LVN Degree ProgramsSearch Programs
Degree Level
School Type

Licensure Requirements for California LVNs

Vocational and practical nurses around the country are required to undergo a licensing process in order to work in the field. However, each state has different requirements for aspiring nurses. This section explains how licenses are issued and maintained in the state of California.

Explore LVN Degree ProgramsSearch Programs

Basic Eligibility

  • Must be at least 17 years old
  • Must provide proof of high school, or equivalent, completion
  • Complete and sign the Application for Vocational Nurse Licensure and Record of Conviction form

Education & Training Requirements

LVNs must complete a vocational nursing degree program that has been approved by California. Those who have graduated from an out-of-state school must have complete a program that was approved by the state they studied in.

Applicants may also be considered based on their working experience in lieu of a degree. In this case, nurses must have a minimum of 51 months of professional experience over the course of ten years, half of which must have been completed within five years of application submission. This experience, which must be verified by applicants’ employers, should include a minimum of five weeks in pediatric nursing, five weeks in genitourinary or maternity work, and 48 months of medical and surgical nursing. Applicants who are being considered based on work experience must also complete a state-approved pharmacology course.

Nurses who have served in a Medical Corps of the military for at least 12 months can have the degree completion requirement waived. Such applicants must submit proof of their service.

Additional Requirements for Licensure

  • Pay a nonrefundable $150 application fee to the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians
  • Pass the National Council Licensing Examination for Practical (Vocational) Nursing (NCLEX) or the National League for Nursing Test Pool Practical Nursing Examination (NLN)
  • While waiting for the results of the licensing examination, applicants may be able to receive an interim permit, but must have completed the background check and paid a $40 fee. Applicants should discuss their specific situation with the Board to determine if this is necessary.
  • Submit fingerprints from the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation for a background check
  • Out-of-state LVNs who want to work in California must submit the “verification of licensure” form and a $75 fee to the Board


LVNs in California are required to renew their license every two years. During this time, nurses must complete 30 hours of continuing education classes, unless it is their first renewal cycle. Those who do not meet this requirement will be deemed inactive by the state and will not be able to legally work.

Both active and inactive LVNs are required to go through the renewal process, which involves paying a $155 fee and submitting a renewal form to the licensing board.

LVNs who have not renewed their license in four years must submit a new application and pass the licensing examination again to be reinstated.

Salaries for LVNs in California

The future is bright for LVNs in California, but certain regions of the state will experience more growth and higher salary potential than others. The following tables outline the areas of California where LVNs have the highest salaries.

Explore LVN Degree ProgramsSearch Programs

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Top Paying Metropolitan Areas

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

California LVN Employment Trends

According to the State of California Employment Development Department, the number of LVNs in the state is expected to grow faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. Specifically, overall employment is projected to increase by 25.7 percent between 2012 and 2022, which equates to 15,600 jobs. This projected growth does not include additional job openings due to net replacement. Unsurprisingly, counties with larger populations, such as LA County and the East Bay Area, will experience higher employment growth compared to smaller areas such as the Eastern Sierra Region and Imperial County.

Top Locations for Employment

Take the next step towards your future with online learning.

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.

Woman working at desk