California offers a host of perks and benefits for young HCPs. Cities like Los Angeles, Santa Clara, and San Francisco boast beautiful beachside views, active nightlife scenes, and a diverse and welcoming community. In addition to all this, California HCPs are the best compensated in the entire country. The state is not even part of the Nursing Licensure Compact, but this does not deter many Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVN.) Reciprocity and/or applying for new licensure is a small price to pay, compared to all the goods that work in the Golden State can (potentially) bring. For LVNs interested in working in California, we have provided a comprehensive compensation guide for your convenience. With its help, we know you can maximize your value as you pick up gigs in the Golden State.
Exactly how much are RNs paid?
According to the US Bureau of Labor And Statistics, the regular annual LVN compensation sits at $54,620. For reference, this sits between the annual compensation rates for Certified Nursing Assistants ($35,740) and Registered Nurses ($81,220). This reflects the greater responsibility taken on by LVNs compared to CNAs, and their deference to RNs for supervision and more complicated medical tasks. Compared to the national rate, the rate for LVNs in California is significantly higher. At the time of writing, Indeed estimates that the rate sits at $80,910 per year. ZipRecruiter’s figures are more humble, but it still sits at a respectable $72,844 per year. This goes a long way towards explaining why the Golden State has gained popularity across several HCP levels.
What are the best paying cities in California?
Even within California, your LVN compensation heavily depends on where you live. Certain cities are denser and more populated than others, which will heavily influence the compensation rates for HCP roles. You can expect fairly good compensation wherever you go, but it cannot be denied that some cities pay better than others.
Below are the California cities with the highest average compensation rates, as of September 2023. All figures have been taken from Indeed.
|City||Average Annual Compensation|
Note that these figures will change over time. For the most part, LVN rates across California are generous compared to the rest of the country. There is some separation between the top two, compared to the rest of the top 9, but each of the top cities are relatively close to one another, compensation-wise.
What are the best paying LVN roles?
Where you work is just one determining factor for your compensation. LVNs also need to consider the roles they take on, as certain services are more in demand than others. As a natural consequence, the more on-demand roles will provide higher compensation. Listed below are the top paying LVN jobs in California, per ZipRecruiter. The top roles may require additional certifications or more work experiences. Keep in mind that the census may be limited, as these figures are extracted from ZipRecruiter’s database.
|Role||Average Annual Compensation|
|Vocational Nursing Instructor||$78,260|
Does work experience matter for RN compensation?
Whether you are an LVN, CNA, or RN, facilities value experienced HCPs. Though work experience is not a direct indicator of quality, it is a welcome sign. Facilities are looking for LVNs with the skill, attitude, and awareness to learn the system fast and contribute to healthcare services immediately. Because of this, LVNs with more experience will be provided greater priority and oftentimes higher compensation rates. Indeed’s database illustrates the progression of an average LVN’s compensation, based on how many years of experience they possess under their belts.
|Years of Experience||Average Annual Compensation|
|Less than a year||$77,371|
How can one increase their earning potential?
Moving to a new city for better compensation rates is not always practical. You have to consider costs of living, transfer your entire life to a new location, and invest a lot of resources into moving. LVNs can take other measures to improve their earning potential, without uprooting their entire lives. Some of the factors that determine HCP compensation can be improved upon by the LVN themselves. When you know the factors you can control, you can increase your marketability, earning potential, and effectiveness as an HCP. All this requires is the right mindset and approach.
Negotiate your compensation rate
If you are a new LVN, do not be afraid to negotiate your rates. You do not have to accept the first offer at face value. Negotiation is a regular part of the process, and any respectable facility should be willing to engage with it in good faith. Just compare the offered rate, to rates offered by other facilities to LVNs similar to yourself. This will serve as the base for negotiations, and you can move forward from there. Provided that both parties engage in these conversations civilly and in good faith, this should be a painless process.
Book temporary RN shifts
Whether you are staffed full time or not, temporary LVN shifts are a great way to improve your earning potential. Full time LVNs can still take on temporary shifts on the side, for extra income. This provides an avenue for you to gain new perspectives, experiences, and skills at a variety of different settings. Your resume will end up looking more diverse and appealing than it ever would have been, otherwise. If you are taking on temporary positions as your primary source of income, this is perfectly viable as well. Temporary HCP rates have risen sharply, thanks to the high demand for short term staffing solutions. Theoretically, you can make a respectable living off of temporary LVN work alone. This does not even cover the kind of schedule flexibility that you are afforded in such a setup.
LVNs can book temporary shifts with travel nurse agencies or staffing apps like VitaWerks. In the case of the latter, you can work anywhere you want in California. You will be asked to sign temporary contracts that last weeks or even months, and all your travel expenses will be covered (in most cases, at least.) Staffing apps are less committed, as you only book single shifts with healthcare facilities in your area. Not only can you work closer to your home, but you also have total control over your work schedule. On the VitaWerks app, you can plan shifts for the week well in advance, with California’s best and most reputable healthcare facilities. We also ensure that you find the best rates around, which lets you further maximize your time. Though temporary RN work can seem daunting, it is an exciting way to push yourself and boost your LVN earnings.
Acquire additional certifications
Facilities want LVNs with deep and diverse skill sets. Additional certifications prove that you have training and qualifications that your other peers might lack. You can pick up certification from various universities, community colleges, hospitals, The Red Cross and even online. RNs can pick up certifications in Infection Control, Public Health, Informatics, Medical/Surgical and more.
These credentials prove that you are invested in your continuous improvement and learning as an RN. With these additional competencies, facilities are more likely to provide extra compensation for your services. Not only do you show qualifications, but you show that you are driven and determined to advance your career and your capabilities as an HCP.