Many nursing students are choosing to earn a BSN because of the higher earning opportunities that this path to RN licensure affords. In addition, many employers in California are now requiring that new staff RN positions go to job candidates that hold a BSN.
New RN graduates in California reported the lack of a BSN as the third most common reason for not being hired, according to the results of a survey published in the January 2015 newsletter of the California Institute for Nursing & Health Care.
While some students opt to obtain a BSN as their initial degree, many licensed nurses enroll in RN to BSN or LVN to BSN programs so they can improve their salaries and job prospects. In 2013, there were some 15,606 students enrolled in BSN programs in California according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
There has been a movement in California to streamline the RN to BSN process so that nurses can more quickly obtain their BSN degree and take advantage of enhanced job opportunities. Characteristically ahead of the curve, the California Collaborative Model of Nursing Education was enacted in 2008 to improve the efficiency of the RN-BSN process, even before the Institute of Medicine report came out that called for 80% of the country’s RNs to hold BSNs by 2020.
Level of Nursing Education Determines Salary Levels in California
In 2013, the median salary for BSN-educated RNs in California was 82.8% higher than that of licensed vocational nurses that same year. According to the US Department of Labor, the median income among California’s LVNs was $51,600 versus $94,300 for BSN-educated RNs.
Further, RNs with an ADN earned an average of $76,731 yearly ($36.89 an hour) in 2014 according to the California Employment Development Department, nearly $18,000 less than their BSN-educated coworkers.
California’s BSN–educated RNs are the most highly paid in the nation. Data from the US Department of Labor reveals salaries for the highest earning BSNs in the 90th and 75th percentiles in 2013:
BSN-Prepared RN Salaries in Key Regions of California
Though BSN-educated RNs are the highest earning in the nation, on average, salaries among BSNs in within California still vary widely based on location. The US Department of Labor provides an analysis of BSN salaries for a number of different areas of the state (2013):