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How to Become a Nurse in California, CA

Nursing in California can be a challenging and rewarding career. Entry into California nursing as a Licensed Practical Nurse can take as little as a year of nursing education and leads to an average salary of $44,000* per year . Alternatively, licensure as a California Registered Nurse takes anywhere from 2.5 to 5 years and lead to a salary in the $70,000* range in coastal cities, before benefits. *(according to

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* (USC) University of Southern California - Master of Science in Nursing

* Georgetown University - M.S. in Nursing, FNP Family Nurse Practitioner program

So, what does it take to become a nurse in California?

The first step is to pursue prerequisite nursing education courses. Depending upon which degree you choose—a Licensed Practical Nurse Certificate takes one year, an Associate Degree, Nursing takes two, and a Bachelor of Science, Nursing takes four—the prerequisites take one to two quarters of full time study to complete. The topics for nursing prerequisite courses include studies in the sciences, such as introductory biology and chemistry, but also cover the humanities and may include courses like English and psychology. This reflects the fact that social and emotional skills are very important in nursing, even though it’s considered a science.

It is very important to do well in prerequisite courses as entry into California nursing education programs is highly competitive and meeting minimum requirements, which start around a C average for some Licensed Practical Nurse programs and go up from there, is rarely good enough to ensure entrance. This is one consideration when choosing which college (or colleges) of nursing to which you apply. However, it is also important to look at other factors such as cost, course offerings, and graduate success rates on the final licensure examinations, which are your gateway to becoming a nurse in California: the NCLEX-PN and NCLEX-RN. Administered to graduating LPN and RN students, respectively, the NCLEX is a nationally-standardized test which ensures that all nurses entering the work force in the United States are adequately trained.

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