California LVN Programs – Information & Rankings


If you are thinking about employment in the California healthcare field, consider pursuing the career of a licensed vocational nurse. The role of LVNs is to provide patients with bedside care in different situations while being supervised by a registered nurse or a physician. LVN is a very lucrative position, with the average salary being $53,600 annually, and becoming one takes no longer than two years. There are 134 BVNPT approved LVN programs in California, and we’ve picked the 20 best programs that can give you high quality training to help you acquire the skill you need and find employment easily.



Program Length in CA

There are two types of LVN programs offered in California that you can enroll in to become a licensed vocational nurse. The length will vary depending on the program. A certificate or diploma will take anywhere from 12-18 months to complete, while an associate degree takes around 2 years.

Program Type Program Length
Certificate / Diploma 12 to 18 Months
Associate Degree 2 Years
(Source: In-House Research)


Program Cost in CA

The cost of LVN programs in the state of CA can be drastically different from one institution to another. For example, community college courses cost less than ones in private-for profit schools, but price doesn’t always indicate the quality of a program. The price can also vary depending on the type of program with a certificate costing much less than an associate degree.

Program Type Program Cost
Certificate / Diploma$3,060 - $48,630
Associate Degree$9,370 - $69,820
(Source: In-House Research)


What Classes Will I Take During my LVN Training?

A typical LVN program mixes traditional classes with clinical practice supervised by licensed practitioners. When it comes to the subjects you can expect in your curriculum, there are classes in basic nursing areas, including patient care for infants, children, adult patients, and seniors. Other common classes include physiology, psychology, human anatomy, first aid, nutrition, and basic pharmacology. These courses provide essential knowledge a future LVN will need and help students learn how to take care of patients within their scope of practice.

Clinical Training

All LVN students in the state of CA need to get clinical training, which involves real situations with a hands-on approach with patients at healthcare schools or at a local health center. Monitored by experienced physicians, you will observe and learn to give injections, treat bedsores, maintain hygiene, dress patients, and learn how to protect themselves from infections, radiation, and chemicals they may encounter at work. Clinical training provides essential practical knowledge that prepares you to seamlessly execute your duties as an LVN in the future.

Performance of California’s LVN Graduates on the NCLEX-PN Exam

Students in CA who graduate from LVN programs need to pass the NCLEX-PN exam to get their practicing license. All schools offering LVN programs in this state are obligated by law to make their NCLEX pass rates public. Pass rates are a direct indicator that can show you how good a certain course is. Simply put, the higher the pass rate, the better. Compared to the national average pass rates, California LVN programs are around 13% lower, meaning that you should be careful when choosing a school to go to.

NCLEX-PN Pass Rates
YearCalifornia National
Taken % Passed Taken % Passed
20137,73573.95%58,57584.63%
20147,99968.42%55,49182.16%
20157,04069.05%50,97981.88%
20166,17472.25%47,34583.70%
20176,44470.73%46,94883.85%


The 20 Best LVN Programs out of 134 BVNPT Approved Programs in California for 2020

View Ranking Methodology

1) Stanbridge University - Orange County, Los Angeles

A top-ranking nursing school in the state of California, Stanbridge’s central location makes both its campuses in Irvine and Los Angeles easily accessible from different parts of the Orange and Los Angeles counties. Besides, with a state-of-the-art facility, equipped with a world class simulation lab, three skill labs, one of the largest virtual reality labs in the country, a human cadaver lab, coupled with a small student-faculty ratio, you are effectively mentored to step into the field of nursing with outstanding professional preparedness.

The LVN program is offered full-time at (Orange County and Los Angeles campuses) and part-time at (Orange County Campus). While the full-time program can be completed in 13 to 14 months, part-time will take twice the time. You will complete 1808 clock hours in theory and clinical training. To thoroughly prepare you for the NCLEX-PN, during each term you will go through practice tests and assessments.

2) Allan Hancock College - Santa Maria

Allan Hancock College located in Santa Maria is one of the leading community colleges in the state of California. Exceptional teaching goes hand in hand with the latest simulation technology at Allan to achieve excellent student outcomes. On top of that its location provides multiple avenues of recreation and leisure, being in close proximity to beaches, mountains, forests and farmlands.

The 12-month LVN program at Allan Hancock is ideally meant for those who are certified Nursing Assistants. The coursework builds up on your nursing experience, covering subjects such as anatomy, physiology, medical-surgical nursing, pediatrics, obstetrics, nursing, pharmacology, nutrition and first aid. The newly acquired knowledge is put in practice at its lab and various partner clinical sites. The program is offered in January each year and ends in December. On successful completion of coursework, you will be eligible to take the NCLEX-PN.

3) Riverside City College – Riverside

The school of nursing at Riverside City College has been offering a high-quality LVN program since 1952. Located in downtown Riverside, the college attracts a diverse student population from various parts of the country. Its nursing education mainly focuses on developing critical thinking and decision-making skills by offering ample practical training alongside theory.

This is one of the most sought after LVN programs in California and takes 12 months of full-time study to graduate. You must be a certified Nurse Assistant and complete pre-requisite courses in Anatomy, Physiology, Nursing and Psychology with a minimum of GPA of 2.10 in order to be eligible for this program. It is offered every fall and admits around 40 to 60 students. You must complete a total of 51 units to earn your VN program certificate. For those who wish to pursue an A.S. degree, you must complete 60 units that include electives and general education courses.

4) Mission College - Santa Clara

Mission Community College is centrally located in the bustling city of Santa Clara, which is the heart of Silicon Valley and hub of thriving economic activity. Student life on its campus is engaging with the several student services it offers. The various clubs such as Alpha Gamma Sigma, MC Health Occupations Association, and Mission Inter-Connect ensure personal as well a professional development.

The Vocational Nurse Program is a three-semester program that covers extensive coursework preparing you for entry level nursing positions. You will learn patient care fundamentals, pharmacology, care of geriatric, pediatric, obstetrical and neonatal patients and leadership in nursing. Before entering this program, you must complete a pre-requisite coursework in Anatomy and Physiology and hold a current California Nurse Certification. You can go on to complete an associate by completing additional general and elective courses.

5) College of the Siskiyous - Yreka

College of Siskiyous is located at the base of Mount Shasta in Yreka. Founded in 1957, the college has been providing quality education since then. Its rural setting comes with an advantage of breathtaking views and affordable housing, without comprising on the urban connect as it is well linked to large cities.

If you are someone who wants to make a difference to the lives of people, then this three-semester VN program can be a perfect start to a career in nursing. To be eligible for this program, you must be a high school graduate and complete 17 years of age by the time you take the NCLEX-PN exam. The program thoroughly prepares you to practice nursing at entry level positions in a variety of clinical settings as well as for the NCLEX-PN licensure exam. You must complete 44 to 40 units of nursing coursework to graduate.

6) Sacramento City College - Sacramento

Sacramento College, located right in central Sacramento has inspired students to excel since 1916. Campus life here bustles with academics, cultural events, student clubs and student leadership and development programs.

If you want to enter the field of nursing, then completing your vocational nurse training in the "Golden State" will equip you with the knowledge and skills required for effective patient care in a very short period of time. This three-semester program requires completion of 53 units. The coursework is rigorous in nature and requires full-time study. You will learn about meeting adult basic health needs, patient care across the lifespan, nursing of the elderly, intravenous therapy and blood withdrawal. All these courses are complemented by lab sessions and experiential learning to enhance professional skills. Upon earning your LVN certificate, you can successfully take the NCLEX-PN and work as an entry level nurse or go on to earn an associate degree by completing additional general education requirements.

7) Citrus College – Glendora

Located just 25 miles from Los Angeles, Citrus College is the fifth oldest community college in the state. Since 1915 it has grown from strength to strength and today occupies a 104-acre campus with upgraded facilities.

This 12-month program will train you to provide nursing care at entry level positions. You can enter this course either in the fall or spring semester. Once enrolled, you will attend classes five days a week, with some clinical rotations in the evenings or weekends. Your LVN coursework entails completing of 50.5 units in courses that prepare you to develop critical thinking and decision-making skills in health assessment and nursing care of patients across the lifespan. If you want to become an RN, then you can continue with the associate degree program at Citrus, where 18 LVN units can be transferred.

8) Unitek College - Bakersfield, Concord, Fremont, Hayward, Sacramento, San Jose, & South San Francisco

Unitek College, a private educational institution was established in 2002. All its campuses are well equipped with state-of-art infrastructure to provide a conducive learning environment. Starting from enrollment to finding employment, the college strives to nurture individual career goals by providing one-on-one assistance all along this journey.

One of the few LVN schools in California that offer this entry level nursing program at multiple campuses, you can conveniently choose from the seven locations, the one that is closer to you. If you opt for a day-time schedule, you can complete this program in just 12 months. For working individuals there is an evening class option that takes 17 months to complete. The curriculum being a fine blend of theory and practical, you will be given ample practice where you will learn health assessments of patients, effective communication and intravenous procedures.

9) Carrington College – Sacramento & San Jose

Carrington College offers the LVN program at two easily accessible locations in the state. With emphasis on hands-on training and externships, Carrington’s nursing education prepares you for challenges nurses face in real-world clinical settings. The faculty facilitates this learning by bringing their nursing work experiences to the classroom, helping students relate better to didactic sessions.

If you are looking at working as an entry-level nurse in various kinds of clinical settings such as physician offices, nursing homes, hospitals and home health care services, then completing this LVN program will train you with the required professional skills in just 12 months of full-time study. If you add another year of study, you can earn an associate degree and go on to become a registered nurse. To earn your LVN certificate, you must complete 54 units in the LVN coursework.

10) American Career College - Orange County, Los Angeles & Ontario

American Career College provides a supportive and comforting environment, where students are made to feel much at home. Ensuring they achieve excellence in their careers, the college’s Career Services team stays in touch with students even after graduation to provide resources and individualized career assistance.

This LVN program comes with a full-time and part-time option. The coursework is divided in four modules, each module being 13 weeks (full-time) and 20 weeks (part-time) in length. The curriculum starts with introductory courses, moving on to advanced patient care. The courses build up on each other and you will end your coursework with a preparatory course for the NCLEX-PN. Patient Care courses are complemented by clinical experiences to give you a better understanding of the acquired theoretical knowledge. This rigorous curriculum thoroughly prepares you with professional, leadership and communication skills.

11) Summit College - Colton

Summit College offers excellent training under the guidance of well qualified faculty in small sized classes. The state-of-the-art simulation and skill lab help nursing students develop confidence to become competent care-givers.

If serving patients is your calling, then completing this LVN program can give you a kick start into the field of nursing. If you opt for the full-time option, you can complete this program in 12 months. However, if you are working, you can opt for evening/weekend classes and complete it 18 months. The curriculum is designed to enhance critical thinking and teach you fundamental nursing concepts, patient communication, psychology nutrition and nursing in various clinical situations. Upon completion of the program, you will successfully be able to take the NCLEX-PN and go on to work in various kinds of clinical settings.

12) Ukiah Adult School – Ukiah

Ukiah Adult School has been providing employment ready education for the last 40 years. The school has served students from the Ukiah Valley in pursuing their careers and developing job-ready skills and knowledge.

This three semester LVN program blends class work with clinical practice in Lake County and Mendocino County hospitals. 20 to 30 hours a week, Monday through Thursday, you will be taking instructions and practicing professional skills. Upon completion of the program, that includes 954 clinical hours plus 576 hours of class work, you will be able to take up entry level jobs in nursing and fulfill various patient care duties such as bedside nursing care and administration of medications and medical treatments. To be eligible for this program, you must be a current CNA or must have worked as a Patient Care Technician in the last six months.

13) Concorde Career College - San Diego, Garden Grove, North Hollywood, & San Bernardino

Concorde Career College with its five campus locations in California has been providing quality education from more than 50 years. Students benefit from the college’s many clinical partnerships where they go on to hone professional skills. Community service forms a vital part of your education at Concorde; no wonder that graduates go on to make remarkable contributions towards community service. Being a military committed school, the college offers special privileges to students who want to make the transition to civilian life.

This LVN program can be completed in about 12 months of full-time study. The curriculum includes courses in preventive nursing care, therapeutic nursing acre, rehabilitative nursing care, restorative nursing care and nursing treatments using critical thinking skills. With an emphasis on hands–on training, you can be assured of a smooth transition into the real clinical world as a well-prepared LVN

14) Santa Barbara Business College - Bakersfield, Rancho Mirage & Santa Maria

Santa Barbara College has been imparting quality employment ready education for more than 125 years. Whether you choose the central location of Bakersfield, or Rancho Mirage, right amidst the Coachella Valley or Santa Maria which is located in the wine country of Central Coast, you are bound to cherish the time you spend earning your degree. All its campuses are well-equipped with medical labs and resource learning centers, serving students to excel in their chosen field.

The college’s 12-month LVN course in California prepares you for entry level nursing positions. In this short duration, the curriculum helps master skills in patient care, tracheotomy and wound care, administration of medicines and assessment of vital signs. The program gives you ample hands on training in state-of-the-art laboratory, later followed by practice at various clinical sites.

15) Inland Career Education Center - San Bernardino

Inland Career Education Center located in San Bernardino has been around since 1920 and since then has been providing education to suit the needs of San Bernardino community. Its several innovative programs are facilitated by a team of dedicated faculty that goes all out to make students comfortable and conducive to learning. Small sized classes further make mentoring more effective.

Vocational Nursing at Inland is a one-year program and is designed to prepare nursing aspirants for the licensure exam and practice as a licensed nurse. If you are someone who has completed either a Certified Nurse Assistant or Medical assistant or EMT program, then this program can be right for you. The LVN coursework will help you advance knowledge and skills in patient care, preparing you to work under an RN in varied clinical settings.

16) Tulare Adult School - Tulare

Tulare Adult School located in the alluring Tulare is just 200 miles away from prominent cities in California. Being a part of the Tulare Joint Union, a supportive community, the school works towards maintaining strong ties with local organizations. It has played a key role in the region by providing outstanding educational programs, churning out graduates since 1928 who are active community members, touching many lives.

Tulare prepares you for a nursing career as a Licensed Vocational Nurse with its 18-month training program. To be eligible for enrollment, you must be a high school graduate, hold a current CNA certificate and have a minimum ‘C’ in all required pre-requisite courses (Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Terminology, Nutrition and Medical Math). Once enrolled, you will learn to incorporate nursing principles into competent and compassionate patient care. Upon graduation you will be advised to take the NCLEX-PN licensure examination. On successfully passing the exam, you can go on to work in a variety of clinical settings or even consider entering a Registered Nursing Bridge program and further your career prospects.

17) Copper Mountain College - Joshua Tree

Copper Mountain Community College located in Joshua Tree provides a conducive learning environment for students to flourish. The sprawling 62,000 square foot building on 122 acres of land offers an excellent learning space, equipped with the latest facilities. Add to that, the many student resources and support services that promote positive academic outcomes.

The three-semester program in vocational nursing leads to students earning a certificate upon successful completion of the coursework. It is offered in a cohort format, starting in June and ending in May, the following year. The program requires you to commit five weekdays and at times even weekends. You must complete all the required courses with a minimum of ‘C’ in order to earn your certificate. You alternatively can opt for additional degree coursework and earn your Associate Degree in Vocational Nursing.

18) Mira Costa College - Oceanside

The stunning 3.5 miles of white sandy beaches in Oceanside make Mira Costa Community College a campus where students enjoy the best of academics and recreational activities. The friendly atmosphere and diverse student population further enrich its campus culture. Above all, Mira Costa sends the highest number of transfer students to the University of California, amongst all the community colleges in San Diego.

If you are a Certified Nursing Assistant and keen to become an LVN in California, then this weeknight/weekend program can be a viable option. To be eligible, you must complete the required coursework in Anatomy or Physiology, General Biology and Basic Pharmacology, must be 17 years or older and hold a high school diploma. During this training will complete 576 hours of theory and 960 hours of clinical training before taking the licensure exam. The nursing curriculum will include courses covering nutrition, communicable disease, nursing in oncology, medical-surgical, orthopedic and preoperative nursing.

19) Annenberg School of Nursing - Reseda

Annenberg School located in Reseda, being exclusively an institution for nursing education is popular amongst students interested to pursue a vocational nursing course in California. With a close-knit environment and a faculty that really cares, the school manages to excel with its performance on the licensure examination. Its 100 years of teaching methodologies have kept pace with changing times, having introduced newer ways to achieve student success.

The one-year, full-time vocational nursing program is a diploma that is designed to prepare you for the licensure exam as well as your role as a patient caregiver, working under a Registered Nurse. While enrolled, you will put in 1,680 hours of classroom as well as lab work to complete the nursing coursework that includes core topics such as anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, fundamental of nursing, maternal-child, medical-surgical nursing and leadership in nursing.

20) Bakersfield Adult School - Bakersfield

Bakersfield Adult School offers one of the most affordable and flexible nursing education options in the state of California. The school is known for very high pass rates on the licensure examination, indicating a high quality of education. With some exceptional community partnerships, students enjoy an array of clinical experiences, locally.

The Vocational Nurse Program at Bakersfield starts every summer and requires you to be at least 18 years, a high school graduate and a current C.N.A., R.M.A. or C.M.A. Before you start with the program you must complete the pre-requisite coursework with a minimum ‘C’ in Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Math, Medical Terminology, Psychology and Introduction to Computers. This 22-month program is ideally meant for working students who want to advance their careers.

How to Obtain My LVN License in California?

To become a licensed vocational nurse in California, you will have to get a proper education and get your license from the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT):

- Complete a board-approved vocational nursing program in CA that consists of at least 1,530 (576 Theory & 954 Clinical) hours of education. The program needs to include both coursework and clinical training.
- Contact the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians and apply for your license.
- Pay for your NCLEX-PN exam and register yourself.
- Wait for your test to be authorized by the board.
- After successfully passing the exam, you will receive your license.

What does an LVN typically do in California?

Vocational nurses have an important part to play in any healthcare center. They are the jack of all trades handling medical and administrative tasks on a daily-basis. Here are some of the general duties you will be performing as an LVN in this state:

- Giving patients proper medication.
- Collecting and delivering samples for lab tests.
- Recording and monitoring patients’ vitals.
- Interacting with patients and supervising them.
- Helping physicians during patient examinations.
- Recording patients’ personal information and medical history.
- Administering medications and injections according to the state laws.
- Educating patients.

LVN Work Environment

LVNs in California work in hospitals, nursing care facilities, physician offices, clinics, private homes, and community health centers. The work is physically demanding, and you will be usually required to stand, walk, and bend for prolonged periods of time. LVNs work in different shifts including nights, as their patients need care round-the-clock. Night shifts are usually paid extra and sometimes you will have to work longer shifts for which you will be paid as well.

How Much Will I Earn?

Licensed vocational nurses in California have a higher income average than the national average. The average annual LVN salary in California is $53,000, and it is always in the top 5 states on the national level when it comes to earnings. Your salary can be lower or higher, depending on your skills and other factors, but you can expect to earn up to $6000 a month if you find a good full-time position, which is not that difficult.

Type Salary Range Average Salary
Hourly$18.65 - $34.32$25.77
Monthly$3,230 - $5,950$4,470
Annual$38,790 - $71,380$53,600
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


LVN Earnings in this State vs National Average

California National Difference
Number %
$53,600 $45,710 +$7,890 +17.26%
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Job Outlook for LVN Graduates in California

The current 10-year new job growth projection for an LVN in California stands at 17%, which makes it one of the leaders in terms of growth among all the states in the US. The growth of employment is a direct result of the large need for the long-term care of patients, the growing demand for various medical institutions to have LVNs, and the general expansion of healthcare. At the same time, there will be a large replacement need in the next 10 years and this means that the current positions will be available for new LVNs in the future.

Employment 10 Year New Job Growth Projection (2016-2026)
2016 2026 Number %
69,40081,20011,80017.00%
(Source: careeronestop)


Projected LVN Annual Job Openings in California (2019-2023)

Year New Jobs Replacement Jobs Annual Job Openings(New + Replacement)
20191,1636,1107,273
20201,1756,5907,765
20211,2677,1208,387
20221,2327,6908,922
20231,1508,3209,470
Total Job Openings in the Next 5 Years 41,817
(Source: In-House Research)


6 Best Metro Areas in California to Work as an LVN

Even though California is a state where LVNs are in demand, the job market is not the same across the board. Some metro areas have a greater demand and offer better salaries. The Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metro area is currently dominating, with places like Davita Medical Group and VA Long Beach Healthcare System in Long Beach constantly looking for new nurses and patient care professionals. The San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward and Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metro areas also require a lot of LVNs – RNs need their assistance with patient care since 39% of California residents have some chronic disease.

Rank Metro Area Current Employment Average Salary
Hourly Monthly Annual
1Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim25,480$25.06$4,340$52,130
2San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward7,230$29.11$5,050$60,550
3Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario7,210$23.26$4,030$48,390
4San Diego-Carlsbad5,600$26.09$4,520$54,260
5Sacramento-Roseville-Arden-Arcade3,190$26.81$4,650$55,760
6San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara2,920$29.50$5,110$61,360
(Source: In-House Research)



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