Registered Nurse Salary in California

Being the most populated state in the U.S., California is a major employment hub and top paying state for RNs. There is a large number of nursing schools in California, making it a popular and accessible state for those wishing to become registered nurses (RNs). According to Indeed, the average pay for RNs in California, as of July 06, 2020, in CA was $52.45 per hour. This is reportedly 63% higher than the national average RN salary.

Below is a breakdown of the average RN salaries that can be found throughout the state of California. It is important to note that the job description for RNs in California can vary based on years of experience and specialty role, generally designated by title as Registered Nurse, Level 1 through Registered Nurse, Level 3 positions, with Level 3 RNs representing more qualified nurses who are able to earn more. While RNs all have the same basic skill set, higher levels denote supervisory roles and management positions, while RN, Level 1 indicates a novice or entry-level RN position.

(Registered Nurse) RN Salary in California- How much do RNs make in CA

RN Salaries in Major Cities of California

As mentioned, registered nurses in California are typically paid well above the national average. Your experience, as well as the city you work in, will influence your salary. Below is a breakdown of RN salaries across different experience levels in the top five biggest cities in California.

Los Angeles

A prospective RN, Level 1 in Los Angeles can expect to be paid an average of $71,780 per year, according to RNs that reach “Level 3” designation are classified as expert nurses and earn an average of $88,800 per year. To advance further, you will need to earn your Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN).

San Diego

A prospective RN, Level 1 in San Diego can expect to make an average of $68,560 a year, while an RN, Level 3 can make $95,500 annually.

San Jose

San Jose is one of the higher paying cities for RNs, with RN, Level 1 earnings on average at $80,030 a year, and the average RN, Level 3 earning $111,500 per year.

San Francisco

RNs working in San Francisco can expect to earn an average annual salary of $79,900 at Level 1, and $111,300 annually at Level 3.


Fresno has a lower average salary rate for RNs. The average RN, Level 1 in Fresno makes $63,900 per year; the average RN, Level 3 makes $89,000 per year.

RN Salary of Different Nursing Professionals in California

Your salary is not only affected by your experience, but also by the responsibilities, duties, and skills unique to your specific position. In fact, there are a number of career paths that you can pursue after you’ve become a certified RN. Here is a list of specialty nursing positions you might transition into after becoming an RN and their associated salaries:

Registered Nurse – Medical/Surgical$107,512/year
Registered Nurse – Pediatrics$80,100/year
Registered Nurse – Geriatrics$79,076/year
Registered Nurse – Operating Room$87,216/year
Labor and Delivery Nurse$81,800/year
Registered Nurse – Obstetrics$81,784/year
Progressive Care Nurse$84,358/year
Registered Nurse – ICU$84,198/year
Registered Nurse – Home Health$85,831/year


Other Benefits for RNs in California

Full-time RNs in California also enjoy comprehensive employee benefits. Your benefits package will differ depending on your employer, but here are some standard benefits that you can expect when you become an RN in California:

  • 401K/403B;
  • Bonuses;
  • Disability;
  • Healthcare;
  • Paid Maternity Leave;
  • Paid-Time Off;
  • Pension;

Job Outlook for RNs in California

The registered nursing field is projected to grow 12% overall from 2018 to 2028. This is a faster growth rate than the national average, and California is no exception to this growth. In May 2019, California was the highest employer of RNs, with 302,770 employed in the state — L.A .alone accounted for 111,780 of those positions — as well as the highest paying state.

The growing need for professionals across all areas of healthcare keeps RNs on track for a high job outlook well into the next five years.

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