2017 Edition — California Nurses

Timothy Bates, Healthforce Center at UCSF
Joanne Spetz, Healthforce Center at UCSF


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Nursing is the single largest health profession in the state. These quick reference guides look at supply, demographics, education, distribution, and pay for registered nurses and licensed vocational nurses, using the most recent data available.

Key findings include:

  • The nursing workforce has grown more diverse. Non-white RNs accounted for almost half (48%) of employed nurses in 2015. However, compared to the state’s population, Latinos were significantly underrepresented in the RN workforce, while Filipinos and whites were significantly overrepresented.
  • The prelicensure programs for RNs produced 11,119 graduates in 2015, slightly down from a high of 11,512 in 2010.
  • California’s RN workforce relies on foreign-educated nurses. In 2015, about one in five employed RNs were trained outside the US.
  • 64% of employed RNs worked in a hospital in 2014. Another 15% were in ambulatory care.
  • Nurses’ average income was $100,000 in 2015.
  • In 2015, more than two-thirds (71%) of licensed vocational nurse (LVN) graduates came from for-profit schools.

For further analysis and data, visit Healthforce Center at UCSF, the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians, the California Board of Registered Nursing, the California Employment Development Department, the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis, and the National Center for Education Statistics.

Two quick reference guides, one on RNs and the other on LVNs, are available for download below. These materials are part of CHCF’s California Health Care Almanac, an online clearinghouse for key data and analyses describing the state’s health care landscape. See our entire collection of current and past editions of California’s Health Care Workforce.