Top pay for LPNs – the West Coast


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Where in the U.S. are LPNs receiving top pay? We’ve already covered the Midwest; now let’s take a look at the West Coast. Keep in mind that the facts and figures are related to LPNs with approximately three years of experience, and numbers might be higher for nurses with more experience or for those in specific specialties. Either way, the figures should give you an idea of the difference in pay across different states and different areas of the country.

Did you miss our list of the top 10 best paying nursing specialties? You can read that here! Our round up of pay for new nurses (RNs) in different parts of the country? Get our list for the West Coast here, the East Coast here, the Midwest here and the South here.

Average pay (per hour) for top cities:

Los Angeles, CA: $21
San Francisco, CA: $24
San Diego, CA: $20
Portland, OR: $21
Las Vegas, NV: $20
Seattle, WA: $22
Phoenix, AZ: $22
Boise, ID: $18
Salt Lake City, UT: $19

Source: Nurse Zone

What LPNs are saying about working in top West Coast cities:

Portland, OR:

“Most of us LPNs are working in the long term setting due to demand and pay. I see more and more clinics going for CMAs because they can pay them less for the same work. Rarely do you see a clinic need someone for IV care or something that only a nurse can do. I worked at OHSU for over eight years and was hoping to get on there when I got my LPN, but they were starting there hiring freeze at that time and have laid off 1500 people. The other hospitals are in the same belt as well. I have never tried the VA.” – 

“Hi, I am currently an LPN in Portland, OR. I graduated and took my NCLEX 4 years ago and found a job within a month. I started out in skilled nursing, it was good hands on experience and then I got a job with Kaiser Permanente. I will say there is a fair amount of jobs out there for LPNs right now, look in the long term care/ skilled nursing department, and then work from there. Kaiser is really slow to hire nurses…All the people I know that work here applied for about 6 months before getting an interview, and then all the sudden three different clinics call to interview. But if you would like some ideas for right away I suggest you look into Avamere companies, it is long term care and skilled nursing facilities, and I swore in nursing school I would NEVER work that job (ha yeah right!) but it ended up being some of the best experience I could ask for. Lots of wound care, catheterizations, injections, assessments, IV starts and hands on nursing experience.” – 

Los Angeles, CA:

“The Los Angeles area is heavily saturated with too many new grad LVNs and not enough jobs, although it might help that you are a bilingual male. The pay rates in the area have also deflated to all-time lows because employers can get away with it. But if you already have a few years of experience, things might be easier.” – 

“‘I’m sure you already know that LPNs (LVNs in CA), are pretty much kicked out of major hospitals by now. Therefore, they are forced to work in sub-acute, clinics, LTC…etc. Considering this: The standard around the LA County area (approx.) 1 year/experience:

Nursing Homes – pay the most; usually $18-24
Clincs – $16-21
Home Health $pays per visit…can really add up

In all reality, CA does not have a nursing shortage. With the economy in the dump, a lot of retired nurses have rejoined the workforce, and new grads find it harder and harder to find jobs. Older nurses are holding on to their jobs longer causing a back up of the student vs. mentor passing of the torch. Hospitals are pushing to only hire BSN-RNs, which in turn forces ADN-RNs to take up much needed lower echelon jobs from the LPNs. It’s rough out here, (I’m a LVN as well) I decided to just go back to school and get that BSN.” – 

San Diego, CA:

“All my current and past jobs have paid over $17/hr. The lowest was $18/hr and I’m in SoCal. I live and work throughout the Greater Los Angeles Area and have only been an LVN for 2 years, so none of that pay is due to experience.” – 

“At 3 different SNFs I made $18, $20, and $22/hr respectively working per diem. When I was absorbed full-time at one of the facilities, they changed it to $23/hr, which was weird because don’t per diems usually make more per hour because they don’t get benefits? Anywho, I digress. I did a bit of per diem hospice work as well for $18/hr. None of those paid any differentials. I would work mixed shifts for the same pay. I recently started on a Med-Surg unit in an LTACH with a base pay of $20.50 and $1.50 night differential, so $22/hr.” – 

“From what I can tell is LPNs up here generally work in LTC. There are not many hospital jobs for LPNs. The wage for LPNs in our facility is $14-$16 an hour. I live a little bit south of the metro. The RNs at the LTC unit I work at start at $20-$22 an hour. My mom is an RN and works at the U of MN, I’ve heard the same thing from her, most hospitals hire RNs now.” – 

San Francisco, CA:

“$23 to $28 hourly is an appropriate pay range for a brand new LVN in the San Francisco Bay area since the cost of living there is very expensive, but the nursing jobs are extremely difficult to find in that part of the country for both LVNs and RNs.” – 

“Put ‘open’ or ‘negotiable’ on your application and/or resume. Also, I graduated from LVN school in San Jose also and know there are very few nursing jobs open there, which is why I moved after graduation to the Sacramento area. there are many openings in Sacramento and Redding areas, so if you can relocate, I would suggest it.” – 

Las Vegas, NV:

“I’m a new LPN here in Las Vegas, I got hired on at North Vista Hospital. Some hospitals will still hire LPNs. We have a number of sub acute hospitals as well that hire LPNs, all my graduating class got hired on at these places and not one person had to work LTC. So yes, there are many options available. LPNs are making a come back in Las Vegas. I have lived in Las Vegas for 15 years and worked as a CNA and a medical assistant before becoming a nurse.” – 

“In Las Begas I just got a LPN new grad IMC position for $28.75 an hour…we’re a high demand area for nurses…I have fellow grads who are making similar in subacute facilities and hospice centers.” – 

Seattle, WA:

“It’s about the same I think. It’s difficult to get hired at a hospital as an LPN but not impossible. You will find the most job openings in LTC and doctor’s offices and clinics. There are still some hospitals that hire LPNs occasionally you just have to always be looking, applying and patient! I left my hospital job in September making about $19.50/hr plus shift and weekend differentials.” – 

“You should be able to get at least $18 an hour I graduated July 2011 and started off right under $20 an hour. It took me about a month after NCLEX to find a job that I wanted.” – 

Boise, ID:

“In my area (in Idaho), new-grad RNs are only making $20-$21/hr. I think LPNs here make $14-$16/hr.” – 

“There are 3 LPN and 3 RN programs in this area.The job market is flooded with nurses and competition is very tough due to those schools. Because of this the pay scale is not as high as other areas. I have a job but have been looking for another one for the last two years.” – 

Phoenix, AZ:

“With experience there are positions available. But they are limited. New grad RNs are being hired in a lot of places where LPNs used to be utilized at the LTC and SNF facilities. There are quite a few places in Scottsdale and the surrounding areas to check out. LPNs are not being used in the hospitals around here.” – 

“Word on the street include a lot of really bad things, like how they (the company, not the clients) go after your license if you make them look bad, how they black list you if you hurt yourself or call in sick, how they dont return phone calls…It goes on and on. The jobs are often just caregiver positions, no training, so you don’t increase your skills. Pay for LPN…$20-22/hour no benefits. There are a lot of ‘honorable’ agencies in Phoenix that take new grads, check them out.” – 

Salt Lake City, UT:

“I know that Legacy Staffing starts LPNs at $22/hr and you are placed in LTC settings as a new grad.” – 

“I am an LPN taking my NCLEX-RN next week. I will literally be upgrading myself out of a job because there are plenty of lifetime LPNs that make a lower salary than a beginning RN. When I told my employer I was taking the big test they literally put an ad in the local paper to replace me. Home health here I come!” – 

Live and work on the West Coast? Share with the Scrubs community what you think about your area in the comments below.

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