LVN Programs for Students in California
LVN stands for licensed vocational nurse. Although the job title resembles a registered nurse (RN), LVNs perform more basic medical tasks, such as ensuring patients' comfort and cleanliness. Other typical job duties include maintaining records and communicating with patients and their families.
LVNs need strong communication and time management skills. Individuals interested in entering this field can do so by earning a certificate or associate degree. An educational program's courses and required clinical experience qualify graduates for a state-issued license. Full-time learners can become an LVN in just one year.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that jobs for LVNs will grow 9% between 2019 and 2029. Keep reading to learn more about the top LVN programs in California, including typical courses and scholarship opportunities.
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FAQ About LVN Programs
What degree do I need to become an LVN?
Professionals need a certificate or associate degree to become licensed professional nurse. LVN programs in California qualify graduates to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam, which the state requires for licensure.
How does nursing school work?
Licensed vocational nursing programs in California require a mix of in-person coursework and clinical rotations. Other requirements can include a capstone course, an academic portfolio, or a comprehensive exam.
How long does it take to earn an LVN?
Although full-time students can earn an LVN in just one year, many schools offer part-time programs that allow working students to take longer to complete their certificate or degree.
How does an LVN program compare to an LPN program?
LVN and LPN programs prepare learners for the same career. California and Texas use the term LVN, while all other states use LPN.
Career and Salary Outlook for Nursing
The BLS compiles salary and growth data on nearly all professions in the United States. The BLS projects jobs for LVNs to grow 9% between 2019 and 2029, which is nearly double the median projected growth rate for all careers. This projection indicates that graduates in the next few years should enter a strong job market.
The following table features the salary range for licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses. Many factors influence salary, such as geographical location, professional experience, and employer. Professionals who work in a large city earn more than those in suburban and rural areas. However, suburban and rural areas' lower cost of living may result in a better quality of life. LVNs can learn more about these and other factors by clicking on the link below.
Career Salary Potential
||Median Annual Salary
Accreditation for Nursing Programs
The best licensed vocational nursing programs in California possess regional accreditation from the WASC Senior College and University Commission. The U.S. Department of Education chartered the WASC to evaluate the state's postsecondary institutions to ensure that they meet specific standards. Programs that meet these standards receive regional accreditation.
On-campus programs may offer some online coursework. If so, check whether the school earned national accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). DEAC accreditation signifies that the school's online programs uphold students to the same high academic requirements as its on-campus programs.
LVN programs in California may possess programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Both organizations specialize in nursing education and grant accreditation to top programs.
Nursing Licensing in California
Just like RNs, LVNs need a state-issued license to practice in California. The best LVN programs in California help students meet the requirements set by the state's board. In California, the Board of Vocational Nursing & Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT) enforces licensure requirements.
The BVNPT offers multiple licensure pathways, and candidates in an approved degree or certificate program complete specific steps. In addition to earning a degree or certificate, candidates must pass the NCLEX-PN examination. Other steps include submitting to a criminal background check and paying a fee. The BVNPT takes approximately 4-6 weeks to process an application.
LVNs and LPNs who possess a license in another state can practice in California if they meet certain requirements. Application materials include proof of passing the NCLEX or SBTPE, a photograph, and two fingerprint cards. Additionally, the BVNPT advises that California LVNs who want to practice across state lines should refer to the Directory of State Boards of Nursing to learn more about reciprocity agreements.
Aspiring California LVNs can improve their employability and salary potential by supplementing their license with a certification, such as IV therapy or wound care. Private organizations, not state governments, issue certifications to qualified individuals. Like with a license, certifications require renewal.
Courses in a Nursing Program
Courses vary in LVN programs in California. However, all courses emphasize the knowledge and skills learners need to work in clinics, long-term care facilities, or other health centers. Coursework can emphasize surgical, maternity, and pediatric nursing, and many programs require labs so that students can apply new skills in a real-world setting.
See below for five common courses in some of the best LVN programs in California. Keep in mind that even if two schools offer courses with similar or identical titles, graduation requirements likely vary. Please contact a school to learn more about its LVN program's academic experience.
General NutritionStudents training to work as LVNs in California take this course to learn how foods' different components impact metabolism and overall health. Course topics also include how nutritional imbalances can lead to medical conditions such as obesity and diabetes. The course does not require any prerequisites or core requisites.
General PsychologyThis course covers the field's history and subfields. Coursework includes studying social psychology, research methodology, and psychotherapy. Students use what they learn in this course in a more advanced psychology course or electives in the social sciences. General psychology also helps graduates on the job, as they can work with people from different backgrounds more effectively.
Vocational Nursing LabLVN programs in California require multiple labs so that students can meet state licensure requirements. These labs also allow students to apply new knowledge and skills in a typical work environment. Labs require working in one or more clinical settings under an LVN's guidance and supervision. Additionally, students interact with patients and receive feedback from professors and supervisors.
Introduction to PharmacologyPharmacology concerns the drugs physicians prescribe to treat disease. Aspiring LVNs learn how to calculate doses, convert different units and measurements, and read drug orders and labels accurately. LVNs in California must master this course's topics, as medication mistakes can affect patients negatively.
Maternal-Child-Adult HealthThis course prepares students to work with families with newborns or young children. Course topics include typical complications relating to conception, pregnancy, and childbirth, along with how normal development should progress. LVNs use the knowledge and skills this course emphasizes to work with families and recognize potential issues.
25 Best LVN Programs in California 2021
The following ranking introduces the best LVN programs in California for 2021. Each listing includes information regarding the program's academic and admission requirements, student support services, and financial aid opportunities. Please use the embedded links to learn more about each program and how it can train aspiring LVNs for a fulfilling career.
Santa Rosa Junior College
SRJC's licensed vocational nurse (LVN) program takes three semesters to complete and features multiple clinical rotations. The 68-credit curriculum emphasizes coursework in the fundamentals of vocational nursing, maternal-child health, and an advanced skills lab. Degree-seekers remain in good academic standing by earning a minimum C grade in all courses.
SRJC's online Career Hub (CH) offers the Jobspeaker job board, on-campus work-study opportunities, and career seminars. Seminar topics include workplace diversity and how to optimize a LinkedIn profile. CH also offers these and other services on its Santa Rosa and Petaluma campuses.
With the LVN program undergoing review, SRJC should provide application information in late 2020 or early 2021. Out-of-state students spend significantly more on tuition than in-state learners. The school awards hundreds of institutional scholarships, and the application window opens each January.
LMC's licensed vocational nurse (LVN) program helps students living in and around Pittsburg prepare for a career in the healthcare field. The three-semester curriculum features coursework in clinical pharmacology, the fundamentals of vocational nursing, and medical-surgical nursing practice. Students complete 17-30 credits of prerequisites before receiving admission.
Career Services (CS) advisors provide one-on-one appointments, a private job and internship board, and career preparation workshops on multiple topics. They also offer free career assessments and links to outside resources that describe the latest job trends in the healthcare field.
One of the best LVN programs in California, LMC application requirements include a background check, drug screen, and high school or GED transcripts. Institutional scholarship opportunities require a separate application.
NVC trains the next generation of licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) in California by offering a three-course certificate program. Learners can also complete prerequisites in English, mathematics, and anatomy and physiology, if necessary. NVC does not allow learners to progress through the program if they do not earn a minimum C grade in every prerequisite and major course.
The NVC Career Center (CC) hosts multiple events each week covering resumes, career mentoring, and career transitions. Other core CC services include career advising, resume assistance, and career-ready success workshops. NVC posts job opportunities on the LVN website.
Admission requirements include becoming a certified nurse's aide, submitting high school or GED transcripts, and completing a blood test. The Napa Valley College Foundation funds NVC's numerous institutional scholarships. Students can apply for all awards by submitting FAFSA results.
City College of San Francisco
San Francisco, CA
CCSF first offered its licensed vocational nursing (LVN) program in 1948. The university's 40-credit certificate of achievement requires courses in basic medical/surgical nursing, mental health nursing, and maternity nursing. The program concludes with an advanced medical/surgical skills lab wherein learners can prove mastery of in-demand knowledge and skills.
Aspiring LVNs can turn to the Career Services Office (CSO) to receive job placement support, conduct job searches, and craft a resume. Online CSO resources include the latest information on job trends and a guide detailing how to create a professional portfolio.
The application process involves submitting high school or GED transcripts, completing six undergraduate prerequisites, and attending a mandatory two-hour orientation. Learners pay a small per-semester student health fee in addition to tuition.
PCC's 53-acre campus hosts a top licensed vocational nursing program that emphasizes basic nursing knowledge and skills. The 37-credit, 12-month program qualifies learners to take the NCLEX-PN exam. The program is accredited by the California Board of Vocational Nurses and Psychiatric Technicians.
Career Center (CC) professionals help students and alumni write a resume and research careers and internships. They also actively network with employers throughout southern California to bring learners the best job opportunities. Students can attend workshops covering job-hunting best practices and networking strategies.
Prospective students need an active California nursing assistant license. The college prefers prospective students who earned a minimum C grade in prerequisite coursework. PCC posts estimated tuition and fees online, and students can reduce their tuition burden by applying for PCC Sponsored Scholarships.
CR's licensed vocational nursing program allows students to choose between an associate degree and a certificate in licensed vocational nursing. Both options take approximately three semesters to complete, and the curriculum emphasizes basic nursing care and rehabilitative measures. Learners follow a set curriculum that does not include electives.
New learners can take one of CR's employment preparation classes to gain job-hunting skills and learn more about what Career Planning (CP) can offer them. The CP website features links to numerous job and internship websites, and advisors reach out to local employers to provide CR students and alumni with career opportunities.
CR does not ask for recommendation letters or standardized test scores. New students can explore different financial aid opportunities. The college's institutional scholarships require learners to create an online account and apply for each award separately.
MiraCosta designed its licensed vocational nursing program for working students. On-campus courses occur in the evenings and on weekends. Learners attain over 1,500 hours of classroom and clinical experience. The degree requires prerequisites in nursing and pharmacology, and 94% of alumni pass the NCLEX-PN on the first try.
Student resources on MiraCosta's Career Center (CC) website include information on career workshops, articles on modern job skills, and an interview preparation guide. CC also helps students and alumni by curating some of the best outside resources, such as My Next Move and the California Career Zone.
Application materials include high school or GED transcripts. MiraCosta considers transfer credit. Prospective students with any criminal convictions from the prior seven years cannot apply. MiraCosta awards institutional scholarships to learners who excel academically and can prove financial need.
The College trains licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) in a three-semester program on its Oroville campus. Curriculum highlights include coursework in nursing theory and clinical experience at different clinical sites. Learners who want to improve their knowledge and skills before entering the job market can enroll in The College's LVN-to-RN program.
Career counselors who work at The College's Career and Employment Services (CES) department help learners by offering career assessments, career exploration strategies, and education plans. Some advisors specialize in job placement. CES also assists students who want to transfer to a four-year college or university.
Prospective students can apply for the fall or spring semester. Application requirements include a high school or GED diploma and prerequisites in human anatomy and physiology. Applicants and incoming students should contact the school's financial aid office to learn more about how institutional and federal aid can lower their tuition bill.
AHC's licensed vocational nursing program prepares 96% of learners to pass the NCLEX-PN on the first try. In the 12-month program, students build upon what they learned in their certified nursing assistant (CNA) program. Clinical experiences occur at different locations in and around AHC's Santa Maria campus.
Students nearing graduation can visit AHC's Career Center (CC) to receive advice and resources concerning resume preparation, career assessments, and potential careers. Learners without the financial resources to buy professional clothes can access CC's Career Closet, an extensive collection of free clothing that helps job-seekers make a positive impression during interviews.
In addition to a CNA certificate, applicants must complete prerequisites in English, mathematics, psychology, and biology with a minimum C grade. California residents pay the lowest per-credit tuition rate. AHC's financial aid department posts the latest private scholarship opportunities online.
Gavilan's licensed vocational nursing (LVN) program uses a 37.5-credit curriculum that students can complete in three semesters. Learners take courses in a set sequence. The program does not allow certificate-seekers to choose electives or customize their academic experience in any way. Students progress throughout the program as long as they earn a minimum C grade in each course.
Gavilan's Gilroy campus hosts the college's Career/Transfer Center (CTC), a resource that provides students and alumni with student success workshops, career fairs, and on-campus employment opportunities. CTC recommends that new learners create an account on Eureka to take self-assessments and learn more about transferring to an LVN-to-RN program.
Admission requirements include multiple prerequisites in human development, biology, psychology, and English. Gavilan's scholarships website features institutional aid, and students with financial need can also apply for federal grants and loans.
Located in Palm Desert, COD provides learners with two of the best licensed vocational nursing programs in California. The vocational nursing AS degree takes 12 months to complete and includes courses in general psychology, nutrition, and an introduction to medicine/dosage calculations. The certificate program features the same major coursework, but students do not take general education courses.
COD's Career and Workforce Solutions Center (CWSC) offers career fairs, assessments, and workshops. Workshop topics cover how to start a job search and professional etiquette. Also, learners can visit the CWSC virtual job board to research local career opportunities.
COD offers information sessions 1-2 times per month. Prospective certificate- and degree-seekers submit the same application. Arizona residents pay a lower tuition rate than other out-of-state learners. COD awards institutional aid, and interested students submit a separate application by either the spring or fall deadline.
Charles A Jones Career and Education Center
CAJ's licensed vocational nursing program emphasizes respiratory health, preventative care, and psychiatric nursing. Certificate-seekers spend approximately 35 weeks in the program and attain over 1,000 hours of hands-on experience. The program is accredited by the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Training.
Approximately 80% of LVN alumni find a job soon after graduation, and students can start researching potential careers by speaking with a CAJ Job Center counselor. These professionals can provide further information on CAJ services and provide one-on-one support. Certificate-seekers can learn more about these resources by downloading the CAJ Student Handbook.
Admission requirements include passing a nursing entrance exam, possessing 200 hours of relevant experience, and providing a high school or GED diploma. Full- and part-time students pay the same tuition rate. CAJ recommends that learners pursue federal and state financial aid programs to finance their education.
Santa Barbara City College
Santa Barbara, CA
SBCC educates licensed vocational nurses in its full-time, three-semester certificate program. Learning outcomes include the ability to apply nursing principles and legal standards in the workplace, provide excellent patient care, and pass the NCLEX-PN exam. Motivated learners can earn an AS in practical nursing if they complete additional general education requirements.
Learners can make a virtual appointment with a Career Center (CC) counselor by creating a Starfish account. Comprehensive guides on the CC website cover exploring careers, writing a persuasive cover letter, and signing up for upcoming career workshops. Learners can also review CC's multiple career videos on YouTube.
Prospective students need a California certified nursing license. Other admission steps include submitting Test of Essential Academic Skills results. Tuition and fees vary by semester, and SBCC awards merit- and need-based institutional financial aid to qualifying students. Learners can also apply for federal and private scholarships and grants.
Prospective certificate- and degree-seekers who live in and around Salinas should consider Hartnell's licensed vocational nursing program. Both tracks use the same curriculum, although degree-seekers need an additional semester to graduate. Core coursework includes the essentials of nutrition, vocational nursing theory, and basic pharmacology.
Career Services (CS) professionals provide transfer and job-hunting tools such as the Transfer Admission Guarantee, a job board, and on-campus workshops and events. Virtual CS resources include career coaching software and career assessments. CS also posts links to top jobs in Salinas and nearby Monterey Bay.
Admission requirements include 21-24 credits of prerequisites in mathematics, English, biology, and psychology. In addition to tuition, students pay for a drug screen, uniforms, a background check, and other related expenses. Learners planning to transfer to a four-year school should apply for the $40,000 Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Scholarship.
San Luis Obispo, CA
Cuesta's licensed vocational nursing (LVN) program helps degree-seekers start a new career in just one year. Students can specialize in basic intravenous therapy, and core coursework includes LVN fundamentals, pediatrics, and adult care. Cuesta also offers a shorter certificate program. Both tracks require that learners earn a minimum C grade in all courses.
Aspiring LVNs can start a job search by creating an account on Jobspeaker. This resource also highlights part-time on-campus jobs that students can use to lower their tuition bill. Career Connections provides resources such as resume templates and the Career Closet.
The college does not consider applicants with a felony record. Cuesta awards the Promise Scholarship, a full-tuition award for learners who graduated from a San Luis Obispo County high school. Degree- and certificate-seekers can also apply for other institutional aid.
Situated in Glendora, Citrus College's licensed vocational nursing program allows students to select between a certificate and an associate degree. The 50-credit certificate features courses in pharmacology, medical-surgical nursing, and advanced pharmacology. Degree-seekers complete an additional 20 credits in general education, extending their time in school by approximately two semesters.
Certificate- and degree-seekers use Career Services' (CS) resource library and assessments to narrow down potential career paths. Career Cruising software allows users to identify strengths, interests, and skills, all necessary when comparing job opportunities. CS' Career Resource Library highlights tips and tricks learners can use to write a resume and prepare for an interview.
Citrus College uses a 10-step admission process that involves submitting high school or GED transcripts, performing guided placement, and creating an online account. Out-of-state learners pay approximately six times the in-state tuition rate. Citrus College posts new institutional scholarships on its financial aid website.
SWC's licensed vocational nursing (LVN) programs include an AS and a certificate of achievement. Both options feature courses in the fundamentals of nutrition, pharmacology for nurses, and maternal-child-adult health. They use a cohort-based learning model and require extensive clinical experience.
Career Center (CC) advisors offer virtual chats so that busy LVN students can receive advice as soon as possible. The CC website provides additional resources, such as career interest inventories, a career-ready guide, and recorded workshop presentations. Presentation topics include industry-specific job-hunting tips.
SWC does not accept applicants younger than 18. Prospective students must submit either a high school or GED diploma. California residents pay the lowest tuition rate at this public institution. In-state and out-of-state learners can apply for more than 90 scholarships by submitting a financial aid form and FAFSA results every February.
Mission College educates licensed vocational nurses with its AS in vocational nursing program. Learners master multiple topics over three semesters, including the care of obstetrical and neonatal patients, nutrition and disease, and advanced medical/surgical theory. Students can customize the degree by selecting general education electives.
The Mission College Career Center (CC) caters to recent high school graduates and nontraditional learners with its job site and LinkedIn career advice. CC's career resources discuss California's top-growing professions and how learners can prepare for a competitive job market. CC also actively recruits local employers that offer jobs to recent graduates.
Application steps include creating a CC Apply account. New degree-seekers may need to take a placement test if they do not possess standardized test scores. Mission College helps students plan for college expenses by providing them with a tuition and fee calculator. The institutional general scholarship application window opens in January.
SCC's licensed vocational nursing program requires 74-75 credits and concludes with an AS. Courses include anatomy and physiology, general principles, and an introduction to concepts of human anatomy. Learners who do not want to earn a degree can enroll in one of two certificate tracks. Motivated students can take honors courses.
Students interested in work-study opportunities can use the SCC Career Center (CC) to research on-campus jobs. CC also offers career planning guides covering resume basics, interview skills, and how to develop a career network that leads to a job offer. Learners and alumni can log in to Handshake to learn more about upcoming on-campus workshops and events.
First-time and transfer students apply online. Admission requirements vary depending on applicants' professional and educational background. SCC charges an affordable per-credit tuition rate to California residents. Like many California public colleges, SCC awards a full-tuition scholarship to qualified learners who graduated from a local high school.
Feather River Community College District
FRC offers some of the best licensed vocational nursing programs in California. The degree and certificate programs require coursework in pharmacology, pediatric nursing, and obstetrics. Both tracks fully qualify alumni to sit for the NCLEX-PN. Most test-takers pass the exam on the first try.
FRC advisors assist learners with turning a certificate or degree into a career by providing them with the Career Cafe (CC). CC acts as a hub for the best job-hunting resources that California community colleges create for their students and alumni. Degree- and certificate-seekers can also take the Holland Code Career Test to help them choose long-term careers.
Program prerequisites include coursework in nurse aid, human anatomy, and introduction to nutrition. FRC plans to post additional admission requirements before the next application window opens in 2021. Students can reduce their tuition by applying for up to $1,100 in institutional scholarship.
IVC's licensed vocational nursing (LVN) program educates 24 students in a cohort learning model. The three-semester curriculum includes courses in nursing fundamentals, supervision, and communicable diseases. Students attain nearly 1,000 hours of clinical experience and remain in good academic standing by earning a minimum C grade in all courses.
The IVC Career Services Center (CSC) pairs LVN learners with an expert advisor to help them with course selection and job hunting. Students use College Central Network to research vocational nursing positions throughout California. Career development workshops cover soft skills, how to write an effective resume, and an introduction to CSC resources.
Required program prerequisites include general microbiology, medical terminology, and general psychology. In addition to tuition, learners must pay for lab fees and immunizations. IVC scholarships award up to $1,000, and students can apply for other institutional aid every March and April.
Homestead Schools educates aspiring licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) on its Torrence campus. The curriculum emphasizes practical skills, such as ensuring patients' cleanliness, providing patient health education, and helping registered nurses and physicians with treatment. The program is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools.
Homestead Schools' Career Center offers learners employment placement services. Placement steps include exploring open positions, honing job-hunting skills, and networking with employers. The school also promotes students' academic and professional success by requiring academic intervention for learners whose grades fall below a C.
Admission requirements include a high school or GED diploma, an interview, and passing a pre-admission test with at least a 76% score. Homestead Schools asks that new learners meet physical and background check requirements before starting clinical rotations. Students can pay for their LVN certificate by applying for federal grants and loans.
Reedley College's licensed vocational nursing (LVN) program lasts three semesters and prepares learners to take the NCLEX-PN exam. Courses stress healthcare theory and practice, which students use during multiple clinical rotations. Unlike some other top LVN programs, Reedley College's program educates learners as young as 17 years old.
Counselors who work at Reedley College's Career and Employment Center (CEC) help learners look for a job, write a resume, and use personalized career planning advice. Students can sign up for an appointment by creating a Starfish account. In-state learners can use the California Career Zone to learn more about financial planning and take career assessments.
Application materials include undergraduate prerequisites in medical terminology, nutrition, anatomy and physiology, and biology. Prospective students need a CPR card. Reedley College charges a higher tuition rate to out-of-state learners, and students can research institutional scholarships by attending a financial aid workshop or downloading a brochure.
Copper Mountain Community College
CMC's licensed vocational nursing (LVN) program educates learners on the school's 122-acre Joshua Tree campus. Students can select either a certificate or diploma track. The latter requires additional coursework beyond the standard three-semester curriculum. Additionally, learners spend weekends and evenings completing clinical rotations at local healthcare facilities.
Students approaching graduation can create a Jobspeaker account to receive job placement services. Learners who visit the Career Services Center (CSC) can also speak with a counselor concerning time management, career assessments, and social and interpersonal skills. Virtual CSC resources include interest and personal inventories.
Prospective students can apply every February. Admission requirements include passing four prerequisite courses. CMC posts a schedule of estimated expenses to help LVN learners budget for college. Financial aid opportunities include federal loans and grants. Students with financial need can apply by submitting FAFSA results.
AVC created its licensed vocational nursing program for certificate-seekers who want to enter the medical field in just one year. Major coursework includes the fundamentals of patient care for vocational nurses, medical-surgical nursing for the adult and child, and nursing leadership. Students proceed throughout the program if they earn a minimum C grade in each course.
Students can explore AVC's Career Center services such as Buzzfile and CareerOneStop by making a counseling appointment. Learners can also view career videos covering job searching and employer interviews.
Prospective learners should submit proof of high school completion and undergraduate prerequisites in anatomy and physiology, general psychology, and nutrition. Other enrollment steps include orientation and drug and alcohol screening. The AVC Foundation awards more than 200 scholarships each year. Students can apply for aid by creating an online account.