Nurse Practitioner Programs in California: Facts & Figures

California is the most populous state in the U.S. and home to eight of the country’s most populated cities. Similarly to other states in the nation, California is facing a nursing shortage that is projected to increase over the next 10 years. Hospitals employ the majority of practicing nurses, and although they are still experiencing vacancies, they are finding that more experienced nurses, such as nurse practitioners, are coming back into the market due to difficult economic times; this is leaving fewer available positions for new graduates. They are also experiencing a slowdown in nursing admissions, partly because of the nursing faculty shortage. Another contributing factor to the increasing demand is that the average age of a registered nurse (RN) in California is over 47, so the state expects a shortfall as these nurses reach retirement age.

The California Institute for Nursing & Health Care (CINHC) predicts that by the year 2020, California will need to fill 108,000 nursing positions. Nursing positions currently licensed by the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) in California include:

  • Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Advanced Practice Certificates
    • Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)
    • Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)
    • Nurse Midwife (CNM)
    • Nurse Practitioner (NP)
    • Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse
  • Continuing Education Provider (CEP)

Nursing Licensure in California

Nursing criteria and licensure requirements are mandated individually by state and regulated by its nursing board. In order to be licensed by the BRN, applicants must fulfill complete all necessary steps. In order to practice as a professional nurse in California, you must achieve the following:

  1. Complete a state-approved nursing program
  2. Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)
  3. Complete 30 hours of continuing education through a board-approved provider
  4. Provide fingerprints as required by the BRN (if applicable)
  5. Renew license every two years no earlier than three months before the expiration date

Also note that licensing criteria and renewal requirements for advanced nurses vary by state; your area of specialty will determine what obligations must be met in order to maintain your eligibility.

Average Nurse Practitioner Salaries in California

All salary data is as of May 2013.

Wage estimates provided by The Bureau of Labor Statistics show the average annual salary for nurse practitioners in California is $110,590, which is considerably higher than the national average of $95,070. California employs more than 250,000 registered nurses across the state, with the majority practicing in the Los Angeles metropolitan areas.

Area Registered Nurses Average Salary
United States 2,724,570 $69,110
California 250,230 $90,860
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale 69,540 $85,340

Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana 88,790 $84,580
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos 20,980 $84,900
San Fransisco-Oakland-Fremont 38,490 $106,220
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City 18,400 $105,670

Reported salaries for California’s top metropolitan areas were all significantly higher than the national average, with the San Francisco metropolitan areas estimating salaries reaching more than $100,000 per year. These wages are more than $30,000 higher than the U.S. average.

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