LVN Salary in California

LVN Salary in California
Let’s get to one of the real reasons you are considering came to this website and that is what kind of LVN salary you can expect. The question on salary is nothing to be ashamed of by any means. While you should have positive feelings and the willingness to help others in your profession, your LVN pay is right up there with one of the important aspects of this career.

If you’ve been reading some of the various articles on this website, you’ve probably seen use mention that LVN salary is among the best for those professions not requiring a 4-year college degree. We think that is one of the better benefits of this profession. Plus, if you are crafty you can still attend college to become a registered nurse (RN) or another trained medical professional while drawing a decent LVN salary.

In this article, we will look at the LVN salary including what determines it and which states have the highest. This information has been gathered from number of official sources and will be updated when necessary. We should also remind you that any mention of median pay is not a guarantee of your actual LVN salary but a reflection of the profession as a whole.

If you have any questions or comments concerning LVN salary or any other aspect of this website, please feel free to contact us. Our email is We want you to reach out to us and let us help you where we can.

What Determines You LVN Salary?

As you would expect, not every LVN salary is the same. There are a number of factors that can play in to your actual vocational nursing pay. We’ve narrowed these down to four main factors. These factors are:

  • Experience
  • Specialization Certifications
  • Location
  • Type of Employer
Click on each tab to learn more about the specific factors we consider the most important when determining LVN salary.
ExperienceSpecial TrainingWhere You WorkEmployer Type

Work Experience

Just like every other job out there, the more experience you have at your position the more money you can expect on your paycheck. Not only does experience help your LVN salary at your current job, but you may be able to leverage your experience with other employers. A vocational nurse with a few years of experience can expect to make much more than a first year LVN.

Roughly speaking, as an LVN you can expect to see your paycheck increase around 4% per year for 10 years. Most of these increases come in the form of yearly reviews and cost of living raises. After 10 years you’ve come pretty close to hitting the salary ceiling. You will still see your LVN salary increase but it could drop to 2% or 3% per year.

Due to the LVN salary ceiling at 10 years or so, you will see many vocational nurses looking to improve their situation. This is typically done through bridge programs to become a registered nurse (RN) or to go in to the private sector. Both of these routes also rely on a certain amount of experience too. As you can see, experience is your friend both in your LVN salary and your possible career decisions.


If you want to increase your LVN salary, you can go with a tried and true method – specialization. Much like every other healthcare profession, you will find that those who have specialist training or expertise make more than those with general training. Besides the potential of increasing your LVN salary, certifications can also make you a bit more marketable towards other employers.

Currently there are over 20 types of certifications that vocational nurses can earn. These are typically sponsored and administered by organizations like the National Federation of Licensed Practical Nurses (NFLPN) and the National Association for Practical Nurse Education and Service (NAPNES). A few of the most popular certifications for LVNs are:

  • Basic Life Support (BLS)
  • Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS)
  • Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS)
  • Certified Hospice and Palliative Licensed Nurse (CHPLN)
  • Certified Peritoneal Dialysis Nurse (CPDN)
If you would like to read more about these certifications or learn of others that you may want to consider, head to our guide on Specialty LVN Certifications.


This factor for LVN salary is all about the adage of location, location, location. When we say location, we are not talking about what part of the country, but we are talking about the setting of the medical facility. Is it in a rural area? Maybe in the suburbs or a big city.

City > Suburbs > Rural

Generally vocational nurses working in bigger cities (think LA or San Francisco) make more than those working the suburbs or rural areas. But there is one thing to remember about the location factor. Usually the cost of living in bigger cities is much higher than the suburbs and some rural areas so it might look great for your LVN salary but it might be the same in real dollars.

Type of Employer

The final factor should not come as a surprise. The type of employer you have is a major factor when determining the LVN salary. When we say type of employer, we are talking about the type of facility that a vocational nurse would be working in.

According to the latest data from, the top paying employer types for LVN salary in order of highest to lowest are:

  • Home Care Agencies
  • Correctional Facilities
  • Veteran Services (VA)
  • General Hospitals
This isn’t to say that you cannot make more money at a general hospital than you could working for a correctional facility. However, on average the correctional facility pays more. You also have to combine the other factors in here to gauge the pay structure.

It should also be noted, that as of late the U.S. Government sponsored health agencies such as the Veteran’s Administration, has been actively competing for the services of qualified LVNs. While the LVN salary is very structured with government run agencies, it still may be an opportunity to raise your own wages depending on your current situation.

LVN Pay Outlook

Due to the current demand for qualified and trained vocational nurses, the average or median LVN salary has been growing slightly faster than most other occupations. In a sense, this is the results of supply and demand as employers want to hire the best employees for the betterment of their facility. Until the demand is met, LVN salary can continue to rise making it a very good choice as far as pay goes.

If you plan on moving out of state or want to see comparable LVN salary numbers from around the country, then we can help with that. Take note that the title of Licensed Vocational Nurse is only in California and Texas but the other states title this position as Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). They basically perform the same functions anywhere in the country.

Salary By StateWhy Do Some Places Pay More

Median LVN Salary by State

The following chart breaks down the LPN LVN Salary for the 50 states to give you a better idea on where California ranks in the nation. Remember this is the median LVN salary and some vocational nurses make more or less depending on their specific situation.

Median Annual LPN/LVN Salary By State
Alabama $35,200 Montana $37,500
Alaska $53,600 Nebraska $37,500
Arizona $50,300 Nevada $52,000
Arkansas $35,500 New Hampshire $46,600
California $51,600 New Jersey $52,800
Colorado $45,000 New Mexico $44,800
Connecticut $54,800 New York $44,500
Delaware $47,600 North Carolina $41,500
Florida $41,000 North Dakota $39,000
Georgia $36,800 Ohio $40,100
Hawaii $44,800 Oklahoma $36,900
Idaho $38,300 Oregon $48,100
Illinois $43,400 Pennsylvania $42,500
Indiana $39,900 Rhode Island $53,100
Iowa $37,600 South Carolina $38,600
Kansas $37,800 South Dakota $34,600
Kentucky $37,100 Tennessee $35,800
Louisiana $37,200 Texas $42,900
Maine $41,200 Utah $40,300
Maryland $50,600 Vermont $43,100
Massachusetts $53,100 Virginia $39,400
Michigan $42,900 Washington $47,100
Minnesota $41,100 West Virginia $33,700
Mississippi $35,200 Wisconsin $42,100
Missouri $37,200 Wyoming $42,600

Causes of Regional Vocational Nursing Salary Differences

There are plenty of reasons why you will see large fluctuations in LPN or LVN salary throughout the country. There are three main reasons that seem to make the most sense. These are:

  • Cost of Living
  • Local Labor Market
  • State Healthcare Budgets
Cost of living may be one of the biggest determiners when it comes to LPN or LVN salary in the country. Most employers try to adjust salaries to match the local cost of housing, food, gas, utilities, etc… So in certain parts of the country, including California, where cost of living is high you will see higher wages.

The local labor market also plays a role in all of this since if there is a shortage of practical or vocational nurses, then the employer must usually pay higher wages to entice new employees. However, the inverse is that if you are in an area where there are 2 vocational nurses for every one position, then employers can pay smaller salaries knowing that people still need jobs.

Then we come to state healthcare budgets. You might not think about it but the state budget for healthcare plays a big role in determining the LPN LVN salary. Take our state of California, for example, we have one of the highest levels of healthcare funding in the nation and you can see that reflected in the LVN salary.

Something to Remember…

We can’t tell you for sure what kind of LVN salary you will get when you go out for a job, but we can tell you that it is one of the best for professions not requiring a 4-year degree. This should make you feel a bit better knowing that your hard training and sacrifices can pay off in the long run. Just remember one other bit of advice, you can help improve your LVN salary by showing professionalism and a strong work ethic which could lead to promotions or other bits of compensation.

Even though you just read an entire article on LVN salary, you also have to know that becoming a vocational nurse isn’t about the pay. While it is important to get a paycheck for your hard work to avoid sleeping on the streets, you still have to love what you do. You have to be the right type of person who can make the vocational nursing position less about frustration and more about being rewarding and honorable. So keep in mind, your LVN salary is just part of the overall profession.

Send to Kindle
Back to Top