Earning your nursing degree online from a nearby university in California can be a smart way to become a registered nurse or advance your RN career to the next level. Online nursing programs in California combine high-quality, in-person training with the affordability, convenience and safety of online coursework. RNs and other nurses continue to be in high demand across the nation and California, making this the perfect time to start your education.
We know there are a lot of questions about how online learning works with nursing degree programs, so we put together this guide to help answer the most common questions and help you decide if online nursing programs in California are right for you. You’ll learn about the most popular types of online RN programs in California, get an inside look at three universities offering online nursing programs, and find CA-specific licensing, salary, and job market information for RNs.
Types of Online RN Programs in California
There are a variety of online and hybrid programs for students interested in a degree in nursing, some of which depend on how much experience you have in the medical field. Whether you’re just starting out as an undergrad with no experience, or already far along in your nursing career, there’s an online nursing program in California for you. Check out some of the most popular programs below.
Spotlights of Online Nursing Programs in California
We’ve highlighted some of the best online nursing programs in California to give you a head start on your search for a quality degree. These three programs offer study flexibility and strong student support at competitive costs. All three are also accredited by the CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education), so you can feel confident you’re getting a quality nursing education. Learn more about each school below, and see if they meet your needs.
FAQs About Online Nursing Degrees in California
RN Licensing Information and Requirements in California
Planning ahead and taking note of California’s specific RN licensing requirements can save you time and a potential headache down the road. While there’s occasional overlap between California’s requirements, which can be found at California’s Board of Nursing Page, and those of other states, knowing which ones are specific to California is critical to your success. Here’s what you’ll need to do to become licensed as an RN in California after you graduate from your nursing program.
Provide Academic Transcripts
In order to take the NCLEX-RN you will need to provide academic transcripts from your school or schools. This can be done electronically by logging into your student account and ordering official transcripts. Keep in mind that the board does not accept unofficial transcripts, so be sure to follow your school’s instructions for submitting those. They must include all completed coursework, as well as the degree awarded and date conferred.
Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam
Applicants for the NCLEX-RN must have completed their associate degree or bachelor’s degree. A list of all associate degree programs approved by the board of nursing in California (including on campus, or online) can be found here.
Pay Application Fees
Applicants who completed a board-approved RN program in California will need to pay the following fees:
Application Fee: $300
Interim Permit (optional): $100
Fingerprint Card: $49.00
License Renewal and Continuing Education
There are three main components for renewing an RN license in California. The first is the CE (Continuing Education) requirement. For this, an RN must complete 30 contact hours of continuing education. More information on what qualifies can be found here. Applicants who are renewing their license to an active status must provide the Department of Justice with a full set of fingerprints. More information about the fingerprint requirement can be found here. Finally, applicants must report if they’ve had a license disciplined by a government agency or other disciplinary body and if they’ve been convicted of a crime in any state, U.S. territory, military court, or other country since their last renewal. More info on reporting discipline and convictions can be found here.
Salary and Job Outlook for RNs in California
RNs in California are, on average, paid the most out of nurses in any state, although the state’s high cost of living must be factored in. While the healthcare field can be competitive, there are also thousands of new nursing positions that become available every year. The combination of these two trends means becoming a licensed RN can be a smart choice for those considering a job in the healthcare industry.
Are RNs in high demand in California?
Between 2018 and 2028, California is expected to create over 50,000 new RN jobs, with nearly 25,000 existing jobs opening each year during that span. According to a forecast commissioned by BRN and fulfilled by UCSF, California is projected to have a slight surplus of nurses by 2035. This surplus, however, is for nurses lacking specialized skills, and those nurses who do have more specialized skills in their repertoire are anticipated to fall short of the demand, meaning that if the forecast holds true, the next generation of RNs should consider adding at least one of those in-demand specializations to their skillset.
Job Outlook for Registered Nurses in California
|Employment (2018)||New Jobs (2018-2028)||Job Growth Rate (2018-2028)||Average Annual Openings (2018-2028)|
Source: Projections Central
How much do registered nurses make in California?
We mentioned earlier that nurses in California make more money, on average, than nurses anywhere else in the country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, full-time registered nurses in California earn a mean wage of $113,240 a year, or about $54.00 an hour. For perspective, the next highest paying state is Hawaii, with a mean wage of $104,060 per year.
Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in California
|Median Hourly Wage||Mean Hourly Wage||Annual Mean Wage|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019
Online California Nursing Resources
- California Board of Nursing Here you’ll find resources about state requirements, educational opportunities and materials, and other relevant news. They also have contacts listed for phone and email if you have questions they don’t cover on their website.
- The California Nurses Association This is the California affiliate of National Nurses United, the country’s largest labor union for nurses. Staying up to date on what they’re working towards is a good way to find out which issues are currently impacting nurses – they are also a resource for CE.
- The California Hospital Association This not-for-profit corporation does advocacy work on behalf of hospitals throughout the state. Their primary goal is to champion California’s hospitals and to “support their work to care for all Californians in all ways.”
- California Nursing Student Association This organization’s mission is to help nursing students transition to professional settings “through leadership development, education, mentorship, advocacy, activism, and stewardship.”
- Association of California Nurse Leaders The goal of this association is help nurses become better leaders and through that improve the work they do, as well as the work of other nurses around them.