Nurses are in high demand across the country. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth for nurse practitioners to increase 15% by 2026, and the number of nurse practitioners and other nursing specialists is projected to increase by 30%. An on-campus or online nursing degree prepares students for positions in the healthcare industry. Nurses work in settings such as schools, hospitals, physicians' offices, and private care facilities.
Professionals with an online nursing degree may work as registered nurses, licensed practical and vocational nurses, or nurse practitioners. Graduates of two-year nursing schools in West Virginia are qualified to become RNs. Graduates of BSN programs in West Virginia earn higher salaries than graduates from two-year schools and enjoy more career advancement opportunities. Nurse practitioners need a master’s degree in nursing.
How to Become a Nurse in West Virginia
Nursing licensure in West Virginia is awarded by the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Nurse Professionals and the West Virginia State Board Of Examiners for Licensed Nurse Practitioners for RNs and LPNs, respectively. LPNs may practice after completing a one-year program at a nursing school in West Virginia and passing the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX). To become licensed, LPN candidates must also complete an application, undergo a background check, and pay a $75 fee.
1. Choosing the Right Path for You
Applicants for RN and advanced practice registered nursing (APRN) licensure must submit an application and endorsement forms and register for the NCLEX-RN. Nurses licensed in other states who want to practice in West Virginia must submit the RN verification form.
Nursing candidates must complete an ADN or BSN program at an accredited institution before applying for licensure. Advanced practice nurses need a graduate degree in a specialization, such as prescriptive authority. A doctor of nursing practice is required to teach at most universities and nursing colleges in West Virginia. Nurses with higher levels of education enjoy increased job opportunities and greater earning potential.
2. Earn Your Nursing Degree
The West Virginia RN Board maintains a list of state-approved on-campus and online nursing degrees in West Virginia at the undergraduate and graduate levels. WVU offers several online nursing programs, including an RN-to-BSN program and MSN program. No online BSN program exists in West Virginia.
Applicants to WVU’s online RN-to-BSN program must have an ADN or certificate of nursing from an accredited program, a 2.5 GPA, and an unrestricted nursing license. Applicants to the online MSN program must have a BSN, a 3.0 GPA, an unrestricted nursing license, and graduate coursework in statistics.
Students in WVU’s online RN-to-BSN program must complete 128 credits, and full-time students can earn the degree in one year. The online master’s degree requires 44 clinical hours.
3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License
On-campus and online nursing programs in West Virginia prepare students for the NCLEX-RN, but most candidates study additional hours for the exam. Candidates pay a $200 exam fee and have six hours to complete the NCLEX-RN.
Nursing Licensure in West Virginia
To become a licensed nurse practitioner in West Virginia, students must pass the NCLEX-LPN, which costs $200. To become a registered nurse in West Virginia, candidates must pass the NCLEX-RN, which covers all aspects of nursing, including patient interactions, clinical integrity, and management.
Prospective nurses must hold an RN degree, such as an ADN or BSN, to take the exam. The NCLEX-RN is offered throughout the year at approved testing sites. On the day of the test, students present identification before taking the all-day exam, which is split into two sessions. After passing the NCLEX-RN, candidates may apply for a nursing license.
Nursing Licensing Costs in West Virginia
Licensing Fee $100
State Requirements By Nursing Type
To become an RN in West Virginia, candidates must enroll in nursing programs at the associate or bachelor’s levels. Candidates should consider their career goals when researching programs. For instance, a BSN leads to greater earning potential and career advancement while an ADN allows professionals to begin work sooner. Out-of-state or international students planning to work in West Virginia should ensure their program meets state standards.
RNs with a license in a state that belongs to the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) may practice in West Virginia without fulfilling extra licensure requirements. However, first-time nursing licensure applicants in West Virginia must pass the NCLEX-RN. Applicants obtain authorization to sit for the test from the board of nursing regulatory body and register with Pearson VUE.
The test uses a computerized adaptive testing system (CAT) that comprises 75-265 questions based on the test taker's answers. The NCLEX-RN costs $200. Applicants must also submit a $70 fee to the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses and complete a criminal background check.
RNs must renew their license each year, which costs $67. Professionals must complete at least 12 continuing education (CE) hours from vetted providers. RNs can find an approved list of providers on the board’s website.
Professionals considering a career as a CNA in West Virginia must complete a program that meets the nurse aide training and competency program regulations. CNA programs should contain a minimum of 120 hours with at least 55 hours of supervised clinical practice; coursework must take more than four weeks to complete.
Training should include content that reviews the standards of practice and explains pertinent skills and knowledge for providing quality care to patients. All applicants must provide proof of training completion. Out-of-state CNAs may qualify for an endorsement if their training program meets state standards.
To earn certification, candidates must pass a criminal background check and the West Virginia clearance process administered by the Department of Health and Human Resources. Additionally, CNAs must complete the nurse aide competency evaluation. The exam includes a written portion and a skills demonstration. Applicants who do not wish to take the written portion of the exam may complete the assessment orally.
Test takers must achieve at least 70% on the written or oral exam and earn at least 225 out of 300 points on the skills exam. CNAs must renew their certification biennially. To qualify for renewal, CNAs need eight hours of paid work experience within the two-year period.
In-state students considering a career as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) in West Virginia enjoy multiple options for state-approved LPN programs. Out-of-state students may also qualify for an LPN if their program meets state standards or their license is from a state within the NLC. The best programs adhere to the requirements of the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the scope of practice outlined by the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Licensed Practical Nurses.
Graduates must pass the West Virginia NCLEX-PN, which requires an authorization to test from the board of nursing regulatory body. The NCLEX-PN costs $200 and assesses the skills and knowledge LPNs need to serve patients. Due to the CAT system the exam uses, test takers may answer between 85-205 questions. Applicants have five hours to complete the exam.
To apply for licensure, LPNs must submit an application to the Washington State Department of Health. The application process requires candidates to complete a criminal background check and submit an $85 fee. For renewal, which takes place every two years, LPNs need 24 CE hours that include topics on substance abuse and mental health conditions. Additionally, West Virginia LPNs must acquire 400 hours of paid work within the two-year period.
Professionals who do not meet the minimum requirements may apply for a limited license, which remains valid for 90 days.
In West Virginia, RNs with a valid license can become a nurse practitioner (NP). Candidates must earn a master’s degree in nursing from a regionally or nationally accredited institution and obtain a national certification to qualify for licensure. Because NPs can specialize in different types of nursing, multiple certification boards exist. Each board consists of subject matter experts who outline regulations and standards.
Acceptable nursing boards include the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, American Nurses Credentialing Center, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, Pediatric Nurse Certification Board, National Certification Corporation, and the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists.
The certification process includes an exam that assesses the knowledge and skills needed to provide care for patients in the NP’s target population. The exam costs $295. Professionals must renew their license annually, which requires 15 CE hours and costs $65.
Professionals interested in prescriptive authority must complete an additional application. To qualify, NPs must provide proof of at least 15 contact hours in pharmacology within the prior two years, as well as a letter from the dean confirming that the student's graduate clinicals included pharmacology. Applicants without at least three years of prescriptive authority must complete a collaborative agreement. Candidates with an out-of-state license may apply for an endorsement.
Career Outlook for Nurses in West Virginia
More than 20,000 nursing professionals practice in West Virginia, including LPNs, RNs, NPs, and APRNs. An on-campus or online degree from a nursing school in West Virginia prepares students for these careers. City hospitals employ the largest number of nurses in the state, but nursing professionals in West Virginia may also find employment in rural clinics.
Nationwide, the BLS projects jobs for LPNs and vocational nurses to grow 12% by 2026. The BLS projects a 15% growth rate for RNs and a 31% increase in the number of NPs and other APRNs. The salary of a nursing professional depends on education and experience.
Employment Data For RNs in West Virginia
According to the BLS, the top-five settings for nurses include general medical and surgical hospitals, physicians' offices, home health care, nursing care facilities, and outpatient care centers. Hospitals in the state currently employ nearly 1.7 million RNs.
West Virginia RNs earn $65,500-$75,500 on average, while RNs nationwide earn about $70,000. RNs working in the highest-paying industries can earn over $90,000. These high-paying industries include pharmaceuticals and medicine manufacturing, payroll services, the federal executive branch, training, schools, and wholesale electronic markets.
RNs pursuing a career in West Virginia should note that most professionals earn around $60,380. However, RNs can earn more depending on their location. For instance, in Morgantown, Winchester, and Cumberland, RNs earn over $66,000 on average per year.
Employment Data For CNAs in West Virginia
Many professionals use CNA jobs to gain experience before becoming nurses, causing high turnover in the industry and continued job opportunities. Furthermore, the geriatric population continues to expand, which requires skilled professionals to provide specialized care. The BLS projects an 11% increase in CNA jobs through 2026.
The majority of CNA professionals in West Virginia work in nursing care facilities earning close to the national average, at $27,500. Hospitals also offer many employment opportunities and pay around $30,640 on average. Other popular CNA settings include continuing care communities, assisted living facilities, home health care services, and employment services.
The highest-paying industries for CNAs include the federal executive branch, facilities support services, scientific research and development services, educational support services, and higher education facilities fields. CNAs in these fields earn between $34,290 and $38,340, on average. These industries account for less than 1% of CNA employment, so jobs are competitive.
On average, West Virginia CNAs earn $25,990. However, in both Hagerstown and Martinsburg, CNAs earn nearly $30,000 on average.
Employment Data For NPs in West Virginia
The BLS projects jobs for NPs to grow 31% through 2026 nationally, with an average salary of $105,730. West Virginia NPs earn $95,000 on average. However, NPs in Winchester earn $113,160 on average.
The majority of NPs work in physicians’ offices. Other saturated settings include hospitals, outpatient care centers, private practice, and higher education institutions. The highest-paying industry for NPs is personal care services, where they earn nearly $140,000 on average. Other high-paying fields include management, consulting services, religious organizations, and dentists' offices.
Biggest Hospitals in West Virginia
The hospitals in Charleston and Morgantown are two of the largest healthcare and research centers in the state. Most of the smaller medical facilities in West Virginia are triage centers, often referring patients to larger hospitals. Many West Virginia hospitals are affiliated with nursing schools, making them ideal places for graduates of nursing schools in West Virginia to seek employment. Large hospitals also provide internship and fellowship opportunities for nursing students.
- Charleston Area Medical Center: The CAMC boasts several campuses and employs 7,000 individuals across the state. The CAMC offers urgent and emergency care, inpatient and outpatient facilities, family and surgical centers, and transplant services.
- West Virginia University Medicine: WVU Medicine’s hospitals, clinics, and institutes extend throughout West Virginia, including J.W. Ruby Memorial and Children’s Hospital in Morgantown. In 2016, WVU Medicine employed 15,695 people and served more than 1.5 million patients.
Additional Nursing Resources in West Virginia
- West Virginia Nursing Association: The WVNA brings together nursing professionals in West Virginia to improve their knowledge and skills. Members gain access to continuing education opportunities, job boards, and state and national nursing news.
- West Virginia Association of School Nurses: The WVASN emphasizes the quality of school health and health education in West Virginia and advocates for school nurses and students. Members receive news and updates about school nursing and access to continuing education opportunities.
- West Virginia University Student Nurses' Association: Based on WVU’s campus, the WVU Student Nurses’ Association supports and unites nursing students. Members host activities and meetings, and they network with faculty and other WVU students.
- West Virginia Health Care Association: The WVHCA emphasizes quality care and professionalism in long-term care facilities, advocating for patients and employees. The WVHCA represents 130 nursing facilities, assisted living communities, and residential retirement centers in West Virginia.
- West Virginia Association of Nurse Anesthetists: The WVANA encourages cooperation among the state’s nurse anesthetists to promote patient care and safety. Members receive state and national resources, continuing education opportunities, and access to WVANA’s annual meeting.
Accredited Online Nursing Programs in West Virginia
For students looking to attend an online nursing school, West Virginia University is the only option in the state. No community or technical colleges in West Virginia offer online ADNs. West Virginia University offers an online RN-to-BSN nursing program for practicing RNs seeking their bachelor’s degree, and an online MSN program.