What Travelers Should Know About Getting a California Nursing License

It's no mystery why travel nursing in California is so popular. Visitors love the sunshine, the scenery, the energy. Not to mention a few RN-related attractions.

  • California has a low ratio of nurses to residents. So this is a state that hires lots of travelers
  • Travel nurse jobs in California offer some of the highest pay rates in the nation. At the end of the day, your pay is highly dependent on what the hospital is willing to do to attract nurses. Lots of folks want to live and work in beautiful towns like San Diego, and the employers there know that. We get it, in many ways a glorious sunsoaked lifestyle and tons of entertainment options are, in a way, part of the package. But if you are primarily focused on cash, consider areas like the Central Valley and Northern California where the lifestyle is a little less glitzy and the pay is often a little higher.
  • Cali enforces nurse-to-patient ratios and rest-break rules. Legal solutions are rarely perfect, but overall RNs have reported an improvement in these two areas due to the legislation.

How to Get a California Nursing License

California is not part of the eNLC. If you do not already possess a California nursing license, you can apply for one by endorsement. This state is well-known for the length of time it takes to process endorsement applications, sometimes as long as three months.

You may apply for a California nursing license online, be advised that one of the more bureaucratic aspects of the process is the fingerprinting requirement. Obtain a fingerprint card from the CBRN and have your prints taken at, for example, a local police station. The process can be accelerated a bit by opting for LiveScan fingerprinting - which costs a bit more and is not available in as many locations as traditional fingerprinting. Either way, snail mail is involved, and sometimes re-do's happen.

Want to speed it up?

If you can see a way clear, you can go to the state capital, Sacramento, in person. Bring along all the required paperwork, deliver it to Board of Registered Nursing, and complete your fingerprinting process with Live Scan. Licenses are often issued within two weeks with an in-person application. Talk to your recruiter about this possibility. They should have an idea of whether or not it makes sense in your situation, and guide you through the process.

No matter how they apply, US applicants must already have an active RN license in another state, have completed an education program that meets California's requirements, and have passed the NCLEX-RN or SBTPE exams:

Here's a few of the items you'll need to have ready if you travel to Sacramento:

  • Completed application for California Licensure by Endorsement
  • Completed form for verification of your current license or Nursys Verification Application
  • Payment for processing fees
  • Passport-style photo
  • Certified nursing school transcripts
  • If applicable: documentation explaining any prior convictions or disciplinary actions
  • If applicable: request for temporary license, if you want to begin work pending issuance of a permanent license

While the California nursing license can be a challenge to obtain, it is well worth it! This is one of the most prestigious locations in which to practice and to build your career. Why not give yourself a chance to work in the most populous state in the nation, in particular in some of these wonderful cities: