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Orange County is home to an impressive 18,510 registered nurses (RNs), 8,450 certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and 6,120 licensed vocational nurses (LVNs). These professionals earn some of the most competitive salaries in the healthcare industry. Orange County-based RNs average $85,400 per year, LVNs average $48,690 per year, and CNAs average $27,450 per year.

To break into this lucrative career field, you’ll need the right education, skills, and experience. RNs typically hold an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), or a master of science in nursing (MSN). Licensure is required as well, and many Orange County hospitals and healthcare providers prefer a BSN or MSN degree. LVNs must complete an accredited, state-approved certificate or associate’s degree program and obtain a license, while CNAs must complete an accredited training program and obtain certification.

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With proper training, graduates are well prepared for the demands of these challenging positions. On a typical day, RNs will perform a number of duties including treating patients, performing diagnostic tests, establishing care plans, and providing emotional support to families. LVNs do everything from measuring and recording vital signs to teaching family members how to care for patients. CNAs check vital signs and help patients perform routine tasks such as cleaning, bathing, and eating; some might administer medication.

Skilled nursing professionals are in high demand at some of Orange County’s top hospitals and healthcare centers. These include Hoag Hospital Newport Beach, Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, and St. Jude Medical Center.

The following is a list of Orange County nursing schools that offer some of the best CNA, LVN, ADN, BSN, and MSN programs in the state of California.

Orange County nursing schools by NCLEX score

Saddleback College
28000 Marguerite Parkway | Mission Viejo, California 92692
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 96.2% NCLEX pass rate (2010-11 through 2019-20)
  • LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
Concordia University Irvine
3337 Michelson Drive, Suite 650 | Irvine, California 92612
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 95.9% NCLEX pass rate (2010-11 through 2019-20)
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN
  • LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
University of California, Irvine
802 West Peltason Drive | Irvine, California 92697
  • Direct Entry MSN: 94.7% NCLEX pass rate (2019-20 through 2019-20)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 87.3% NCLEX pass rate (2010-11 through 2019-20)
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
  • LVN-to-RN 45-Unit Option
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • Post-Baccalaureate PhD
North Orange County Regional Occupational Program
1617 East Ball Road | Anaheim, California 92805
  • Certificate in Vocational Nursing: 94.5% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through Q1 2013)
CNI College
1610 East Saint Andrew Place, Suite 200 | Santa Ana, California 92705
  • Certificate in Vocational Nursing: 92.6% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through Q1 2013)
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 82.1% NCLEX pass rate (2014-15 through 2019-20)
  • LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
California State University, Fullerton
800 North State College Boulevard | Fullerton, California 92831
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 91.1% NCLEX pass rate (2010-11 through 2019-20)
  • Accelerated Second Degree BSN
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • LVN-to-BSN Bridge Program
  • LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
  • MSN: Nurse Anesthesia
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
Cypress College
9200 Valley View Street | Cypress, California 90630
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 90.8% NCLEX pass rate (2010-11 through 2019-20)
  • LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
Golden West College
15744 Goldenwest Street | Huntington Beach, California 92647
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 90.2% NCLEX pass rate (2010-11 through 2019-20)
  • LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
Stanbridge University
2041 Business Center Drive, Suite 107 | Irvine, California 92612
  • Diploma in Vocational Nursing: 88.9% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through 2017)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
  • Master of Science in Nursing: Education
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
Concorde Career College - Garden Grove
12951 Euclid Street, Suite 101 | Garden Grove, California 92840
  • Certificate in Vocational Nursing: 88.2% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through Q1 2013)
Santa Ana College
1530 West 17th Street | Santa Ana, California 92706
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing: 87.4% NCLEX pass rate (2010-11 through 2019-20)
  • LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
American Career College - Orange County
1200 North Magnolia Avenue | Anaheim, California 92801
  • Certificate in Vocational Nursing: 78.9% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through Q1 2013)
Pacific College
3160 Red Hill Avenue | Costa Mesa, California 92626
  • Diploma in Vocational Nursing: 71.2% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through Q1 2013)
  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
  • LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
California Career Institute - Garden Grove
12141 Brookhurst Street, Suite 101 | Garden Grove, California 92840
  • Certificate in Vocational Nursing: 70.0% NCLEX pass rate (2010 through 2012)
Summit College - Anaheim
1360 South Anaheim Boulevard | Anaheim, California 92805
  • Certificate in Vocational Nursing: 64.6% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through Q1 2013)
  • Nursing Assistant Certificate
Bethesda University
730 North Euclid Street | Anaheim, California 92801
  • Certificate in Vocational Nursing: 39.6% NCLEX pass rate (2009 through Q1 2013)
Brandman University
16355 Laguna Canyon Road | Irvine, California 92618
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
  • Post-Baccalaureate DNP
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
University of Phoenix - La Palma Learning Center
Six Centerpointe Drive | La Palma, California 90623
  • MSN: Nurse Administration
  • MSN: Nurse Education
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
Vanguard University
55 Fair Drive | Costa Mesa, California 92626
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
  • LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
  • RN-to-MSN Degree Completion
School Program NCLEX score Time period
Saddleback College Associate's Degree in Nursing 96.2% 2010-11 to 2019-20
LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
Concordia University Irvine Bachelor of Science in Nursing 95.9% 2010-11 to 2019-20
Accelerated Second Degree BSN
LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
University of California, Irvine Direct Entry MSN 94.7% 2019-20 to 2019-20
Bachelor of Science in Nursing 87.3% 2010-11 to 2019-20
Accelerated Second Degree BSN
Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing
LVN-to-RN 45-Unit Option
Master of Science in Nursing
Post-Baccalaureate PhD
North Orange County Regional Occupational Program Certificate in Vocational Nursing 94.5% 2009 to Q1 2013
CNI College Certificate in Vocational Nursing 92.6% 2009 to Q1 2013
Associate's Degree in Nursing 82.1% 2014-15 to 2019-20
LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
California State University, Fullerton Bachelor of Science in Nursing 91.1% 2010-11 to 2019-20
Accelerated Second Degree BSN
Doctor of Nursing Practice
LVN-to-BSN Bridge Program
LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
MSN: Nurse Anesthesia
Master of Science in Nursing
RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
Cypress College Associate's Degree in Nursing 90.8% 2010-11 to 2019-20
LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
Golden West College Associate's Degree in Nursing 90.2% 2010-11 to 2019-20
LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
Stanbridge University Diploma in Vocational Nursing 88.9% 2009 to 2017
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
Master of Science in Nursing: Education
RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
Concorde Career College - Garden Grove Certificate in Vocational Nursing 88.2% 2009 to Q1 2013
Santa Ana College Associate's Degree in Nursing 87.4% 2010-11 to 2019-20
LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
American Career College - Orange County Certificate in Vocational Nursing 78.9% 2009 to Q1 2013
Pacific College Diploma in Vocational Nursing 71.2% 2009 to Q1 2013
Associate's Degree in Nursing
LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
California Career Institute - Garden Grove Certificate in Vocational Nursing 70.0% 2010 to 2012
Summit College - Anaheim Certificate in Vocational Nursing 64.6% 2009 to Q1 2013
Nursing Assistant Certificate
Bethesda University Certificate in Vocational Nursing 39.6% 2009 to Q1 2013
Brandman University Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Doctor of Nursing Practice
LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
Post-Baccalaureate DNP
RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
University of Phoenix - La Palma Learning Center MSN: Nurse Administration
MSN: Nurse Education
RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
Vanguard University Bachelor of Science in Nursing
LVN-to-RN 30-Unit Option
Master of Science in Nursing
RN-to-BSN Degree Completion
RN-to-MSN Degree Completion