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RN Programs in California

California is the most populous state in the United States.  Financial services, trade, transportation, education, health services and manufacturing are some of the prominent industries in the state. California is home to numerous colleges and universities that offer degree programs in a variety of areas of study. Those who are interested in the field of nursing can also find a number of programs in California that may prepare them for careers in the field.

Demand for registered nurses (RNs) is likely to grow in the future, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Recognizing the key role that nurses play in providing care to patients across the health care system, colleges in California have increased their educational programs with the help of private-sector investments.

California Nursing Sector

According to California Healthcare Foundation (2010), approximately 300,000 registered nurses worked in California, making nursing the single largest health profession in the state. Demand for nurses is likely to increase in the coming years as a result of an aging population. By 2030, the number of Californians aged 65 and over is projected to double.^

RN Schools in California

The state of California has a number of schools that offer RN programs. According to the BLS, there are three degree paths for becoming an RN. These include the associate and bachelor degrees in nursing as well as diplomas in nursing.^

ADN Programs in California - Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

An associate program in nursing typically requires 2 years of full-time study. A number of nursing schools offer the degree. The program focuses on the prevention, health maintenance, health promotion and restorative needs of patients. Some of the topics of study in the associate degree program are:

  • Health care management
  • Nutrition
  • Developmental psychology
  • Medical terminology
  • Life span health care
  • Microbiology^

BSN Programs California - Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

A bachelor’s degree in nursing is an undergraduate degree that combines clinical experience with core courses in nursing. BSN degree offers a comprehensive way to acquire necessary skills in the nursing profession, allowing graduates to take up RN responsibilities.  According to the BLS, a bachelor's degree or higher is generally required for administrative, research, consulting, and teaching positions in the nursing profession.

A high school diploma or its equivalent along with the SAT or ACT scores will be required for admission into the program. The curriculum in the BSN programs includes instruction in a variety of topics such as:

  • Social science
  • Community health
  • Nursing research practices
  • Health promotion
  • Nutrition^

Diploma in Nursing

Californians who wish to become registered nurses can also enroll in the nursing diplomas.  Some of the topics of study include:

  • Foundations in nursing
  • Trends in nursing
  • Pediatric patient care
  • Nursing the elderly
  • Surgical nursing^

Online RN Schools in California

Some nursing schools in the state also offer the online nursing programs while others offer hybrid programs, allowing students to take some courses online and others on-campus. The online RN programs can be useful for working LPNs (licensed practical nurses) as well as RNs who wish to further their education while pursuing their jobs. Online nursing programs are flexible and convenient.^

What will you learn?

Students who complete an RN program may be able to:

  • Perform nursing care duties
  • Demonstrate competency in providing nursing care to diverse populations
  • Employ information and health care technologies
  • Take up leadership roles within the scope of nursing practice
  • Perform disease-prevention and health-promotion activities^

Career Outlook for RNs in California

Registered nurses generally work in:

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing and residential care facilities     
  • Offices of physicians      
  • Home hea0lth care services          
  • Government^

According to the California Hospital Association (2014), about two-thirds of all RNs work in various hospitals of California.

Registered Nurse Joboutlook California
Year RN Employments Count
2013 252,940
2012 249,980
2011 250,230
2010 240,030
2009 233,030

oboutlook California Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Registered nurses (RNs) are predicted to enjoy a positive career growth in the state of California. The profession grew at the rate of 9% from 2009 to 2013. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a nationwide growth in the nursing sector to take place at the rate of 19% from 2012-22. California was ranked at #1 position for the highest employment levels for registered nurses in 2013, by the BLS.


How much do Registered Nurses make in california?

According to the BLS, the mean annual pay for RNs in California in 2013 was $96,980. However, RN incomes vary substantially by region.

Registered Nurse Salary California

Registered Nurse Salary California

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

California has the highest salary figures for registered nurses. From 2009 to 2013, RN salaries grew at the rate of 14%.


Financial Aid Programs for Nursing students in California

Students who wish to enroll in the RN programs in California can apply for a number of financial aid programs to finance their education. Students who qualify for financial assistance can get the funding to manage their educational expenses including tuition, fee and study materials. California RN students can apply for assistance such as:

  • Allied Healthcare Scholarship Program (AHSP)
  • Licensed Vocational Nurse to Associate Degree Nursing Scholarship Program (LVN to ADN)
  • Associate Degree Nursing Scholarship Program (ADN)
  • Bachelor of Science Nursing Scholarship Program (BSN)
  • Health Professions Education Scholarship Program (HPSP)

Loan Repayment Programs are also available in the state such as:

  • Allied Healthcare Loan Repayment Program (AHLRP)
  • Licensed Vocational Nurse Loan Repayment Program (LVNLRP)
  • Bachelor of Science Nursing Loan Repayment Program (BSNLRP)
  • Licensed Mental Health Services Provider Education Program (LMHSPEP)^


Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:How much do rn make in California?

A:The mean annual wage for registered nurses was $96,980 in California in 2013 according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Registered nurses are required to address a patient's medical needs and implement nursing plans for the patient's welfare. They also maintain the patient's medical records and advise patients on health maintenance and disease prevention. (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Q:How to become a nurse in California?

A:In order to become a nurse in California, you must first complete your undergraduate education. There are three degree paths available in order to become a registered nurse: a diploma, associate, or bachelor's degree in nursing. These programs can be pursued online or on campus. After the successful completion of your education, you must pass the state licensure exam which will qualify you to practice as a nurse. A nursing license can be obtained by passing the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination) which is conducted by the Nursing Board in California.

Q:How to become a registered nurse in California?

A:To become a registered nurse, you can usually take one of three paths; an associate degree in nursing (ADN), a bachelor's of science degree in nursing (BSN) or a diploma from a certified nursing program. Once you complete your education, you will need a license to work as a nurse. An ADN course and a diploma usually take around two to three years to complete, while a BSN is usually a four year program. Nursing programs usually require aspirant's to take courses in microbiology, anatomy, chemistry, physiology, nutrition, behavioral sciences and psychology. Once a candidate's education is complete, they will require a license to become a registered nurse. A nursing license can be obtained by passing the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination) conducted by the Nursing Board in California. (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

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