LVN Licensing Guide

LVN Licensing
Chances are you have landed on this page to find out more information on LVN licensing. You probably have a ton of questions on why licensing is important or what exactly are certifications. Luckily for you, we’re here to answer all of the important questions you may have on vocational nursing licenses.

In this article we will cover a number of the most common questions when it comes to LVN licensing. Our goal here is to make an easy to understand resource that will guide you on the way to understanding the reasons for licensing and how it is achieved. If you would like to learn about specialty certifications, we have an article called Specialty LVN Certifications that discusses the most popular specialty certifications for vocational nurses.

The information we have gathered here are from real life experiences and from authoritative sources to give you the full picture on what you can expect. In some instances we will link out to other articles that can give you a more detailed explanation of what we are discussing. We encourage you to follow these links especially if you are serious about learning more about the licensing process.

We hope to answer all of your questions concerning LVN licensing on this website. However, if you feel that we have not fully answered one of your questions or if you have a suggestion to make this website better, please feel free to contact us. Our email address is

What is LVN Licensing?

In the state of California, LVN licensing is a requirement to legally carry out the duties and responsibilities of a licensed vocational nurse. It is also a requirement in order to have the title of LVN after one’s name. The qualifications for LVN licensing is as follows:

  • Graduation from an approved California vocational nurse training program
  • Graduation from an approved out-of-state practical or vocational training program
  • Completion of an equivalent experience and education (see chart)
  • Completion of experience and education as a corpsman in the U.S. Armed Forces (see chart)
The reasons for the requirement of LVN licensing is to both regulate the type of care given by this position and to insure that only qualified and trained professionals work in this profession. LVN licensing is obtained by passing the NCLEX-PN through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

In the tabs below you will find more information about the NCLEX-PN and LVN licensing. Just click on any of the tabs that catch your attention or you want to learn more about.

What Is The Exam Like?How Long is My License Good For?What is License Status?

What is the NCLEX-PN?

The NCLEX-PN is the required exam to test the knowledge and skills obtained in the practical/vocational nursing profession. The National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) was developed by the NCSBN and it is administered by Pearson VUE testing services in California. Currently these exams are set up as computerized adaptive tests meaning that every exam is unique and it adapts the questions to your previous answers.

There are at least 85 and as many as 205 test questions that must be completed within a five hour time span. The NCLEX-PN is composed of at least 90% multiple choice questions. The rest of the questions may be a combination of point and click, check boxes, series ordering and essay.

The NCLEX-PN questions are textbook based and come from your readings in your classroom training. The content of the questions come from four topic areas of your training. These are:

  • Safe and Effective Care Environments
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance
  • Psychosocial Integrity
  • Physiological Integrity
The chart below will give you a better idea on what to expect on the distribution of content on the NCLEX-PN examination.
LVN Licensing Examination

How Do You Maintain your LVN Licensing?

You LVN licensing is valid for two years. It must be renewed before the end of your birthday month to keep it valid. This can be done online as long as you have proof of completing the renewal requirements and paying the fee.

The requirements for LVN licensing renewal is the completion of 30 hours of continuing education over the two year period. Continuing education for our purposes are classes or events that are relevant to continued training that have been approved by the California Board of Nursing. This does include classes, seminars, lectures, conferences, home study and workshops.

If you do not renew your LVN licensing, you have up until four years to do so before you will need to basically start over. However, you should be aware that you are not allowed to work as an LVN without a valid license. So just get it renewed every two years and you will be safe.

License Status

According to the California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT), there are four status levels LVN licensing. These status levels dictate your ability to work as an LVN in the state. These levels are:

  • Active – valid license and legal to work as an LVN
  • Inactive – fees are paid but the continuing education has not been completed – not allowed to work as an LVN
  • Delinquent – renewal fee has not been paid after 30 days of expiration date – unable to work as an LVN
  • Expired – license has not been renewed for over four years and can only be renewed or reinstate after submitting a new application and retaking the NCLEX-PN
It should be noted that in the delinquent phase, you may have to pay extra fees in order to get your LVN licensing reinstated.

Now You Know…

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what it is and what it takes to get your LVN licensing. The process is pretty simple and probably the hardest part is passing the NCLEX-PN. With solid studying and following our tips, you should be able to conquer that mountain.

Once you have your LVN licensing, try to keep it active. This means contacting the BVNPT about six weeks before your license expiration date and following through. If you value your profession, you will keep your LVN licensing up-to-date and running smoothly!

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