Detailed Guide forLicensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses in California
May also be called: Licensed Practical Nurses; Licensed Attendants; Nursing Technicians; Home Health Nurses; and Home Health Care Providers
What Would I Do?
Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs) provide basic, bedside nursing care for sick, injured, convalescing, elderly, and physically or mentally disabled persons. They typically work in a health care team under the direction and supervision of a physician or registered nurse and develop their skills in medical-surgical, maternity, and pediatric nursing. Licensed Vocational Nurses observe patients, perform basic assessments, and report and document changes in a patient’s condition. They also measure vital signs, perform medical treatments, and administer prescribed medications. Licensed Vocational Nurses may collect samples and perform routine laboratory tests, feed patients, and record food and fluid intake and output. Some help deliver, care for, and feed newborn babies. Some LVNs perform intravenous therapy or blood withdrawal. Licensed Vocational Nurses can also supervise certified nursing assistants and aides.
Additional duties can vary greatly depending on where the LVN works. Licensed Vocational Nurses who work in nursing care facilities help to evaluate residents’ needs and develop care plans. In doctors’ offices and clinics, they may make appointments for patients, keep records, and perform other clerical duties. Those who work in the patient’s home may prepare meals, keep rooms orderly, see that patients are comfortable and in good spirits, and teach family members simple nursing tasks.
Licensed Vocational Nurses may operate medical machinery such as cardiac output and glucose monitors. They use hypodermic needles, nebulizers, or extremity restraints. They also use computer software for calendar and scheduling and to enter medical records electronically.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Administer prescribed medications or start intravenous fluids, and note times and amounts on patients' charts.||Medicine and Dentistry|
|Help patients with bathing, dressing, maintaining personal hygiene, moving in bed, or standing and walking.||Customer and Personal Service|
|Answer patients' calls and determine how to assist them.||Active Listening|
|Record food and fluid intake and output.||Writing|
|Provide basic patient care and treatments, such as taking temperatures or blood pressures, dressing wounds, treating bedsores, giving enemas or douches, rubbing with alcohol, massaging, or performing catheterizations.||Time Management|
|Measure and record patients' vital signs, such as height, weight, temperature, blood pressure, pulse and respiration.||Problem Sensitivity|
|Evaluate nursing intervention outcomes, conferring with other health care team members as necessary.||Oral Expression|
|Observe patients, charting and reporting changes in patients' conditions, such as adverse reactions to medication or treatment, and taking any necessary action.||Monitoring|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Medicine and Dentistry||Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.|
|Customer and Personal Service||Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.|
|Active Listening||Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.|
|Writing||Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.|
|Time Management||Managing one's own time and the time of others.|
|Problem Sensitivity||The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.|
|Oral Expression||The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.|
|Monitoring||Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.|
Licensed Vocational Nurses work in hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices, nursing and long-term care facilities, ambulatory surgical centers, emergency medical centers, private homes, and group homes. They work a variety of shifts and since most patients need round-the-clock care, some LVNs work nights; weekends; and holidays. Some hospitals have 16-hour (double) shifts, and overtime wages may be paid after the first eight hours. Licensed Vocational Nurses may deal with stressful, heavy workloads.
The job of an LVN often involves prolonged standing, a lot of walking, some lifting, bending, stooping, and reaching. They are subject to back injuries when helping patients move in bed, stand, or walk. Dangers from infectious agents are also part of the work environment. Consequently, LVNs may face hazards from caustic chemicals, radiation, and infectious diseases such as hepatitis, tuberculosis, and AIDS. In addition, the patients they care for may be confused, agitated, or uncooperative.
Licensed Vocational Nurses can join the California Licensed Vocational Nurses’ Association (CLVNA) or the Licensed Vocational Nurses League of California (LVNL). They may also join the Health Care Workers division of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
Will This Job Fit Me?
The job of Licensed Vocational Nurse will appeal to those who enjoy activities that involve assisting others. This occupation satisfies those with social interests. Social occupations involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people as well as helping or providing service to others.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
The median wage in 2016 for Licensed Vocational Nurses in California was $52,743 annually, or $25.36 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Benefits usually include vacation, sick leave, medical and dental insurance, and retirement plans.
What Do Local Employers Say About Benefits? Of the 495 employers in California, almost all provide medical insurance and dental insurance, and most provide vacation and sick leave and vision insurance benefits to Licensed Vocational Nurses who work full-time.
|Percent of Employers Who Provide|
Specific Benefits by Time Base
|Paid Time Off Bank||29%||14%|
Of the 464 employers surveyed who responded in California, who provides medical benefits, most reported that they pay half or more of the cost of medical insurance for full-time, and most reported that they pay half or more of the cost of medical insurance for part-time Licensed Vocational Nurses.
|Percent of Employers Who Paid Medical |
Insurance by Portion Paid by Time Base
|Portion Paid by Employer:||Full-Time||Part-Time|
|Half or more||55%||57%|
|Less than Half||21%||27%|
What is the Job Outlook?
Growth in the employment of LVNs is in response to the long-term care needs of a rapidly growing elderly population and the general growth of healthcare. Replacement needs will be a major source of job openings as workers leave the occupation. Nursing homes will offer the most new jobs for LVNs as the number of aged and disabled people who need long-term care rises. Hospitals are continually under pressure to lower costs and are progressively using more LVNs in place of registered nurses. Increasingly, LVNs will also find jobs outside the traditional hospital setting as healthcare delivery changes.
Projections of Employment
In California, the number of Licensed Vocational Nurses is expected to grow faster than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Licensed Vocational Nurses are expected to increase by 20.9 percent, or 13,700 jobs between 2014 and 2024.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
Licensed Vocational Nurses
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|View Projected Growth for All Areas|
Annual Job Openings
In California, an average of 1,370 new job openings per year is expected for Licensed Vocational Nurses, plus an additional 1,870 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 3,240 job openings.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
Licensed Vocational Nurses
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|View Data for All Areas|
How Do I Qualify?
Education, Training, and Other Requirements
Licensed Vocational Nurses must be at least 17 years of age; possess a high school diploma, or the equivalent; and complete a vocational, or practical, nursing program approved by the Bureau of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT). In addition, they must complete an application for Vocational Nurse Licensure and pay the required fees to the BVNPT, successfully pass a fingerprint background check by the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, complete a record of conviction form, and pass the licensing examination, known as the National Council Licensing Examination for Practical (Vocational) Nurses (NCLEX-PN).
There are two other methods by which an applicant can apply for licensure as a Vocational Nurse in California. One method requires that the applicant complete at least 51 months of paid bedside nursing experience in a general acute care facility. In addition to this experience, applicants must also complete a pharmacology course with 54 hours of theory and a verification of skill proficiency. Another method permits U.S. military corpsmen to take the NCLEX-PN if they have completed 12 months of active duty rendering direct bedside patient care, have completed a basic course in nursing in a branch of the armed forces, and have received an honorable discharge from the military.
Programs for LVNs are one year or longer and include classroom study (theory), supervised clinical practice (patient care), and pharmacology. Classroom study covers basic nursing concepts and patient care-related subjects including anatomy, physiology, medical-surgical nursing, pediatrics, obstetrics, the administration of drugs, and nutrition. Clinical practice usually is in a hospital, but sometimes includes other settings.
Early Career Planning
High school preparation courses in English, mathematics (including algebra and geometry), science (including biology and chemistry), physics, computer science, social studies, and foreign language are recommended.
Work Study Programs
California offers Regional Occupational Programs (ROP) for LVNs. One such program is titled ROP-Health Career Classes, Anatomy/Physiology. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.
Licensed Vocational Nurses in the State of California are required by law to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years, in addition to paying a renewal fee, to maintain an active license. Courses must be taken through a continuing education provider recognized by the BVNPT.
Licensing and Certification
This occupation is licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs, Bureau of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT). Contact the agency that issues the license for additional information. Click on the license title below for details.
Licensed Vocational Nurses must obtain certification by the Bureau of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT) to perform intravenous therapy and blood withdrawal. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
The largest industries employing Licensed Vocational Nurses are as follows:
|Industry Title||Percent of Total Employment for Occupation in California|
|Nursing Care Facilities ||25.7%|
|Home Health Care Services ||17.3%|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals ||14.2%|
|Offices of Physicians ||10.0%|
|Employment Services ||8.8%|
What Employers Say...
The Employment Development Department surveyed 495 employers in California which employ 8,449 Licensed Vocational Nurses. Here's what they had to say:
About Full-Time/Part-Time: Almost All of these firms employ full-time and most employ part-time Licensed Vocational Nurses.
About Work Experience: Of the 495 employers surveyed in California, most require new hires to have prior work experience as Licensed Vocational Nurses. In the table below, percentages may not add to 100% since employers may select more than one time period.
|How Much Work Experience|
Do Employers Require?
|More than 5 years ||3%|
|25 to 60 months ||7%|
|13 to 24 months ||35%|
|1 to 12 months ||61%|
About Recruitment: Of the 495 employers surveyed in California, most indicate it is moderately difficult to find applicants with experience who meet their minimum hiring requirements, while some indicate it is moderately difficult to find applicants without previous experience who meet their minimum hiring requirements to fill vacancies for Licensed Vocational Nurses.
About Hiring: Of the 495 employers surveyed in California, most expect the number of Licensed Vocational Nurses they employ to remain stable during the coming year.
|Expect Employment to Increase ||18%|
|Expect Employment to Remain Stable ||78%|
|Expect Employment to Decline ||4%|
About Vacancies: Of the 495 employers surveyed in California, 72 percent hired Licensed Vocational Nurses during the past year. Of the hiring firms, 93 percent filled existing vacancies, 19 percent filled newly created positions, and 8 percent filled temporary assignments.
Finding a Job
Direct application to employers remains one of the most effective job search methods. Licensed Vocational Nurses can also register with their school placement center for job leads. The California Licensed Vocational Nurses’ Association advertises job opportunities as well. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet offer additional sources for job listings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Licensed Vocational Nurses.
- Medical Clinics
- Nurse Registries
- Nursing and Convalescent Homes
- Physicians and Surgeons
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
Experienced LVNs may be promoted to supervisory or administrative positions. In some employment settings, such as nursing homes, they can advance to become charge nurses who oversee the work of other LVNs or nursing aides. With additional education and a passing score on the national licensure examination, LVNs can become registered nurses, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants.
Below is a list of occupations related to Licensed Vocational Nurses with links to more information.
|Physical Therapist Assistants||Guide|
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.