California’s Health Workforce Education Pathways

Initial and Highest education levels differ significantly across Race & Ethnicity groups. Nearly 50 percent of White health professionals achieve a degree beyond a Bachelor’s degree, but only 21 percent of Pacific Islander health professionals do so.

Why are the education pathways of our Health Workforce important?

Education pathways highlight the ease of entry, career opportunities, and potential advancement opportunities for healthcare professionals in the workforce. These visualizations display the initial and highest educational levels of 43 key actively licensed health workforce professionals by region, Race & Ethnicity group, assigned sex at birth, time since license issue date, and where the initial degree was received. By understanding the differences in the education pathways of our health workforce on these different levels, we can better identify areas of over and under representation, potential barriers to higher education, and improve HCAI’s efforts to build a diverse and effective workforce.

Key Findings

  • A Bachelor’s degree is the most common initial education level across all workforce categories, with nearly one third of California’s active health professionals entering the workforce with a Bachelor’s degree.
  • For those entering the field with an Associate’s degree, nearly 40 percent went on to achieve a higher degree.
  • Initial and Highest education levels differ significantly across Race & Ethnicity groups. Nearly 50 percent of White health professionals achieve a degree beyond a Bachelor’s degree, but only 21 percent of Pacific Islander health professionals do so.
  • Initial and Highest education levels also differ significantly between sexes assigned at birth. More than twice as many male health professionals receive a Doctoral degree as female health professionals.
  • The percentage of health professionals entering the workforce with a Master’s degree has increased substantially over time and is nearly three times as high among licenses issued in the last five years vs those issued 30+ years ago.
  • Over 78 percent of California’s health professionals completed their initial qualifying degree at a school in California.
  • Over 20 percent of all Bachelor’s degrees were received from a school outside the United States.

Note:  Data represents a custom tabulation of healing arts survey responses from licenses in active status on July 1st, 2023.  

How HCAI Created This Product

  • Licensure data was collected by the Department of Consumer Affairs; all data presented represents a snapshot of California licenses in an active status on July 1st, 2023.
  • This product is based on HCAI Health Workforce License Renewal Survey data; all data presented as of July 1st, 2023. The responses to these surveys were adjusted using cell based weighting to create estimates of the full population. Decline to State answers were excluded from the data for each visualization. Licenses without an Issue Date were excluded from the License Issue Date visualization. Respondents who’s Initial Education Level response was higher than their Highest Education Level response were also excluded from the dataset. Dentist, Doctor of Podiatric Medicines, Osteopathic Physician and Surgeon, and Physician and Surgeon licenses are also excluded from the dataset because they are not asked the education questions necessary for these visualizations. Initial Education is defined as the degree/credential that first qualified the licensee for their first U.S. license in this profession. Highest Education is defined as the highest level of education the licensee has achieved in this profession.
  • Regions were defined by California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) and are listed below:
Central CoastMonterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, Ventura
Greater Bay AreaAlameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma
Inland EmpireRiverside, San Bernardino
Los Angeles CountyLos Angeles
Northern and SierraAlpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Inyo, Lake, Lassen, Mariposa, Mendocino, Modoc, Mono, Nevada, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yuba
Orange CountyOrange
Sacramento AreaEl Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, Yolo
San Diego AreaImperial, San Diego
San Joaquin ValleyFresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare
  • Workforce Categories were defined by HCAI using License Type and are listed below:
Workforce CategoryLicense Types
Advanced Practice NursingClinical Nurse Specialist, Licensed Midwife, Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Practitioner
Allied HealthAdvanced Practice Pharmacist, Audiologist, Chiropractor, Licensed Acupuncturist, Occupational Therapist, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Optometrist, Pharmacy Technician, Physical Therapist Assistant, Physical Therapist, Polysomnographic Technician, Polysomnographic Technologist, Registered Pharmacist, Respiratory Care Practitioner, Speech Pathologist, Speech-Language Pathology Assistant
Behavioral HealthAssociate Clinical Social Worker, Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, Associate Professional Clinical Counselor, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Educational Psychologist, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse, Psychiatric Technician, Psychologist, Registered Psychological Associate
MedicineNaturopathic Doctor, Physician Assistant
NursingPublic Health Nurse, Registered Nurse, Vocational Nurse
Oral HealthOrthodontic Assistant, RDA in Extended Functions, RDH Alternative Practice, RDH Extended Function, Registered Dental Assistant, Registered Dental Hygienist

Additional Information

Topic: Health Workforce
Source Link: HCAI Health Workforce Education Data
Citation: HCAI – Health Workforce Licensure Data – Education Pathways of California’s Health Workforce, 2023
Temporal Coverage: Current as of July 1, 2023
Spatial/Geographic Coverage: Regional
Frequency: Annually