In California, there are plentiful job opportunities for nurses, regardless of whether you’re near the coast or inland. Each city has its distinctive appeal. You can enjoy dining at Michelin-starred restaurants or relax with a scenic beach stroll. If you’re looking for more than leisure, California universities offer some of the best academic programs worldwide.  

California is also renowned for its forward-thinking healthcare policies, opening up exciting possibilities for nurses to participate in cutting-edge practices and initiatives. Overall, California stands as an enticing destination for global nurses aspiring to thrive in healthcare. 

The Vibrant Nursing Job Market in California 

California’s urgency regarding the nursing shortage has increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is anticipated to persist until 2026.¹ 

Although California continues to face a nursing shortage, there are promising opportunities for nurses seeking employment there. California has seen a rise in its nurse population, increasing by 8.3 percent since 2019.² This increase suggests that more nurses are choosing to work in California due to the numerous opportunities in the state’s diverse healthcare environment. 

The thriving nursing job market in California is evident from the large number of registered nurses holding active licenses in the state, exceeding 509,000.³ This figure reflects the strong demand for nursing professionals in California and has significant positive implications for healthcare delivery. It reinforces the state’s position as a healthcare innovation and excellence leader. 

Read More: Top 5 Reasons Why Nurses Pursue a Career in the US 

Is California an Ideal Location for Nurses to Work? 

Starting a nursing career in California offers many possibilities due to the state’s large population and diverse healthcare landscape. With numerous hospitals, clinics, and healthcare facilities across the state, global nurses have many options to explore and pursue.  

Whether it’s in urban centers like Los Angeles or San Francisco or more rural areas, California offers a variety of settings and specialties for nurses to choose from. California presents an abundance of opportunities. Here are more reasons why it’s an ideal location for nurses. 

It has top-ranked medical schools worldwide. 

Three California universities are among the Top 10 Global Universities for Clinical Medicine. Two are located in Northern California—Stanford and the University of California, San Francisco—while one is in Southern California—the University of California, Los Angeles. These institutions provide bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in nursing and related fields. 

University of California, San Francisco 

UCSF, positioned third in the rankings, houses four professional schools specializing in Dentistry, Nursing, Medicine, and Pharmacy. It operates an affiliated teaching hospital, the UCSF Medical Center, located on campus. 

UCSF is the recipient of the highest research funding from the National Institutes of Health among graduate divisions. Additionally, the university maintains close partnerships with prominent healthcare entities such as Pfizer and GE Healthcare. 

Stanford University 

Stanford University follows UCSF in fourth place. It consists of seven schools, with over half of its students enrolled in graduate programs. Stanford University School of Medicine stands out for its research, which is largely attributed to its extensive library system. The on-campus teaching hospital, Stanford Health Care, is also ranked fourth among California’s top hospitals. 

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) 

UCLA’s School of Medicine holds the tenth spot on the global ranking. Alongside its outstanding research program, students benefit from learning under esteemed doctors across 350 research labs, medical centers, and institutions.  

It also boasts the state’s premier hospital, the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. This hospital excels in almost all medical specialties and attained “Magnet” status from the American Nurses Credentialing Center in 2005. 

You’ll find numerous nursing associations. 

After obtaining a BSN and nursing license in California, the next step is to become a member of a nursing organization. These associations offer various benefits, such as networking opportunities, career advancement resources, and access to reliable information. 

There are also specialized nursing associations tailored to specific specialties. For general RNs, some nursing organizations to consider include: 

  • The Association of California Nurse Leaders, housing more than 1,200 nursing managers, directors, CNOs, and various other nursing roles throughout California, functions as an educational hub for nurses, offering webinars and conferences. 
  • The Golden State Nursing Foundation aims to enhance patient care quality by advocating for educational opportunities for nurses. They provide scholarships to nurses who meet their eligibility criteria. 

California offers competitive compensation. 

California stands out as the top-paying state for registered nurses, particularly in its metropolitan regions. With 325,620 registered nurses employed as of 2022, California boasts the highest employment level in this profession.  

Additionally, it ranks as one of the highest-paying states for registered nurses, offering an annual average salary of $133,340.⁴ This provides ample opportunities for nurses to thrive personally and financially. 

A prime choice to live and work. 

Although salaries are typically tied to the cost of living by employers or agencies, it’s essential for nurses to carefully evaluate the amount needed to cover essential expenses for themselves and their families. These include housing, transportation, utilities, taxes, food, and childcare. 

Significant discrepancies exist when comparing salaries to living expenses in specific state areas. For example, while California’s overall cost of living exceeds the national average by 42.4 percent, major urban centers like San Francisco experience a much higher cost of living, 86.1 percent above the national average.⁵

Despite these, California remains a top choice for nurses looking for an ideal place to both live and work. 

Read More: You Don’t Have to Leave Your Family Behind to Be a Global Nurse – Bring Them to the U.S.! 

Great opportunity for ongoing education and professional development. 

In California, registered nurses are mandated to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain active licensure. You must take these courses from a board-recognized continuing education provider for them to count toward your coursework. 

Higher education courses are accepted as long as they are advanced. For instance, enrolling in an advanced physical or social sciences course will likely fulfill part of the 30-hour requirement. 

Compared to other states, California offers considerable freedom and flexibility in selecting courses during the license renewal period. Generally, nurses can choose any course directly related to nursing practice, technically or scientifically. However, credit is not granted for taking multiple courses on the same topic; each course must cover a distinct subject. 

Read More: Is Continuing Education Worthwhile for Global Nurses? 

Staffing regulations for nurses. 

What does every nurse want? Less stress and more time to provide better patient care. California is renowned for its strict nurse-to-patient ratio regulations, which specify the number of nurses required per patient in various healthcare settings. These regulations guarantee manageable workloads for nurses, enabling them to deliver safe and efficient patient care. 

With hospitals needing robust staffing to comply with mandated ratios, California offers excellent and abundant job prospects for global nurses to consider. Thus, there is a constant demand for permanent and new nurses to meet the required nurse-to-patient ratios. 

Read More: 7 Steps to Work in the U.S. as a Foreign Educated Nurse 

Impressive recreational, cultural, and scenic attractions. 

It’s hard to cover everything California offers in a few paragraphs, but for nurses, the state has something for everyone: 

  • Exploring natural wonders like Yosemite National Park, the California redwoods, and the picturesque coastline stretching for hundreds of miles. 
  • Enjoying year-round outdoor sports and activities, with Southern California boasting some of the nation’s best weather. 
  • Indulging in culinary delights at a variety of restaurants, bistros, food trucks, and diners catering to every palate. 
  • Visiting well-known attractions such as Disneyland, the San Diego Zoo, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and Universal Studios. 
  • Shopping choices are limitless, from iconic destinations like Rodeo Drive and the L.A. garment district to expansive malls, outlets, flea markets, and charming boutiques. 
  • World-class entertainment venues for theater, film festivals, major sporting events, concerts, and more. 

DISCOVER THE WEALTH OF NURSING OPPORTUNITIES AWAITING YOU IN CALIFORNIA 

Our specialized staffing services can connect you directly with employment opportunities tailored to your skills and preferences. With PRS Global, you can bypass the traditional job search process and secure direct placement in healthcare facilities across California. 

Take advantage of our expertise and network to kickstart your nursing career in one of the most dynamic healthcare landscapes in the world. Contact us now! 

References 

1 University of California. The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on California’s Registered Nurse Workforce: Preliminary Data. Aug. 2021, healthworkforce.ucsf.edu/sites/healthworkforce.ucsf.edu/files/Abstract_Impact%20of%20the%20COVID-19%20Pandemic%20on%20CA%27s%20RN%20Workforce%20-%20Preliminary%20Data.pdf

2 ““I Don’t Know If I Could Work Anywhere Else”: Why Nurses Flock to California.” Becker’s Hospital Review, 19 Sept. 2023, www.beckershospitalreview.com/nursing/i-dont-know-if-i-could-work-anywhere-else-why-nurses-flock-to-california.html

3 California Nurses Association. Protecting and Retaining California’s Nursing Workforce. www.nationalnursesunited.org/sites/default/files/nnu/documents/0523_CNA_GR_NursingWorkforce_WhitePaper.pdf

4 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Registered Nurses.” Bls.gov, 9 Sept. 2022, www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm

5 “The Best States to Work in as a Nurse | NurseJournal.org.” NurseJournal, 28 Apr. 2021, nursejournal.org/articles/best-states-to-work-as-a-nurse/