Become a Nurse in West Virginia: Requirements, Licensing, and Salary Outlook
Few fields offer the diverse job opportunities, steady wages, and flexibility as nursing. West Virginia alone licenses over 34,000 registered nurses (RNs) throughout the state, reports the West Virginia Center for Nursing.
As experienced practitioners begin to retire, the state will face a need for skilled professionals to uphold the quality of healthcare in the state. Thirty-eight percent of practitioners are over 50 years old, meaning now is a great time to consider a nursing career in West Virginia.
Use this guide to learn how to launch your nursing career in West Virginia.
How to Become a Nurse in West Virginia
Students can pursue many educational paths to become an RN. The West Virginia RN Board requires students to complete an accredited nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN).
Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam to Receive RN Licensure.
Apply for Jobs at Local Hospitals.
Learn More About Hospitals in West Virginia
Advance Your Career With a Graduate Degree or Certification.
Maintain and Renew Licensure and Certifications.
West Virginia RN Board
RNs must receive their license through government agencies. These state agencies ensure all nurses meet important standards. West Virginia nurses must apply to the West Virginia RN Board for initial licensure and renewal. The board prioritizes public health, welfare, and safety by regulating RN licenses. Practitioners can also use its website to access lists of accredited programs, licensure costs and requirements, and test preparation materials.
RNs with an out-of-state license can use the West Virginia RN Board site to apply for a West Virginia license through endorsement. For instance, certain states may hold a licensure compact status, which allows practitioners to transition more easily. RNs who need to renew their license can also use this site to explore CE requirements.
How to Get Your Nursing License in West Virginia
Nurses can earn a West Virginia license by completing their degree and taking the national licensing exam. RNs apply for this exam through their primary state of residence.
Practitioners who successfully earn a West Virginia license will no longer hold a valid license in their previous home state. RNs from a state participating in the Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) should consider a multistate license.
West Virginia nursing students should understand the requirements to receive a license and how to apply. This section provides details on eligibility and steps students will need to take to become licensed through examination.
RN Licensure Eligibility Requirements
- Students must earn an ADN or a BSN from an accredited school. While universities typically offer both programs, students can also access ADN programs through local community colleges.
- The National Council of State Boards of Nursing administers the exam for RNs that students need to pass to receive their license. Students may want to consider taking a practice exam. This exam includes multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, drag-and-drop, and multiple-response questions.
- A West Virginia nursing license requires applicants to complete a fingerprint background check.
- The West Virginia RN Board requires a $70 application fee.
Steps to Apply for an RN License
- Students begin the application process for a West Virginia nursing license by registering online through the state's nurse portal.
- The NCLEX requires students to register with Pearson VUE and wait to receive confirmation from the West Virginia RN Board.
- Approved applicants can schedule their exam online or by phone.
- Future RNs can apply for a temporary permit to secure employment before graduating. Temporary permits last up to 20 days. Students who fail the NCLEX lose the right to work with the temporary permit.
West Virginia welcomes out-of-state RNs with an unencumbered license. Nurses should note that requirements vary. The section below discusses steps required to gain endorsement.
Steps to Apply for an RN License
- RNs should start the application process by seeing if their state participates in the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact which provides practitioners with one multistate license. West Virginia joined the NLC in 2018.
- Prerequisites include establishing residency and holding an active, unencumbered license to apply.
- Eligible RNs can complete an online application for a multistate license.
- The West Virginia RN Board verifies applicants' licenses using Nursys.
- Approved applicants must pay associated fees.
- RNs also need to complete a state and federal background check.
How to Renew Your Nursing License in West Virginia
West Virginia RNs must complete CE coursework to qualify for renewal. Nurses need at least 12 hours of coursework, including drug diversion training, best practice for prescribing controlled substances for NPs, and mental health conditions commonly associated with veterans. The West Virginia RN Board accepts CE credits from providers accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).
Qualified applicants should log in to their nursing portal account to apply online. The West Virginia RN Board charges a $67 renewal fee. RNs must renew their license between September 1 and October 3 to avoid a lapsed license. Nurses with a lapsed license must take additional steps to reinstate their license.
Salary and Employment for Nurses in West Virginia
About 19,800 nurses currently work in West Virginia. However, Projections Central data estimates a 14.9% increase in employment through 2028, which is more than double the national value of 7%. Nurses should also consider which areas of West Virginia they want to practice as earning potential varies.
For instance, Morgantown is the top-paying metropolitan area. Nurses earn $67,640 on average. Other areas include Huntington — Ashland, Charleston, Beckley, and Parkersburg — Vienna.
|Metropolitan Area||Mean Salary for RNs|
|Huntington — Ashland||$64,660|
|Parkersburg — Vienna||$61,720|
Best Hospitals to Work as a Nurse in West Virginia
RNs can work in different types of facilities, including ambulatory healthcare services, the government, and schools. However, over 60% of RNs work in local, state, or private hospitals, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The list below comprises information about the top five hospitals in West Virginia, according to US News & World Report.
West Virginia University HospitalsLocated in Morgantown, this hospital is nationally ranked in one adult specialty and one children's specialty. WVU hospital also remains the largest employer in the state.
Charleston Area Medical CenterThis nonprofit teaching hospital holds a high performing status for seven adult procedures and employs nearly 8,000 healthcare professionals.
St. Mary's Medical Center-HuntingtonBased in Cabell County, St. Mary's Medical Center-Huntington employs over 2,600 healthcare workers and specializes in cardiac care, cancer treatment, trauma, and neuroscience.
Beckley Appalachian Regional Healthcare HospitalBeckley ARH is a nonprofit hospital with over 6,000 employees that strives to promote the well-being of all people and improve healthcare.
Beckley Veterans Affairs Medical CenterBeckley VAMC serves over 38,000 veterans living in 11 counties throughout southern West Virginia. The center has 30 general medical and surgical beds along with a 50-bed community living center.
Resources for Nurses in West Virginia
Professional organizations and resources can help RNs stay on top of advances in the field. Resources may include journals, professional development, and mentorship. Nursing organizations also provide RNs access to networking opportunities like conferences, newsletters, and fellowships. RNs may also find valuable CE opportunities.
West Virginia Nurses AssociationThe WVNA supports local nurses and strives to strengthen the nursing profession. Membership provides access to a large network and job postings. Members also benefit from conferences and educational events. Other resources include free or discounted subscriptions to The American Nurse, American Nurse Today, and the Online Journal of Issues in Nursing.
Future of Nursing West VirginiaThe FONWV supports the nursing community in West Virginia by advancing educational opportunities, best practices, and leadership. The FONWV maintains 70 partnerships and has raised over $500,000 in donations. RNs can access online courses, join FONWV projects, and access multiple grant opportunities.
West Virginia Association of School NursesThis organization advances the quality of healthcare services in schools throughout the state. Members gain access to a network of professionals who share the same goals and interests, newsletters, and discounted educational opportunities. Members also benefit from professional development opportunities and online resources.
West Virginia Emergency Nurses AssociationThe West Virginia ENA advocates for the advancement of emergency care. Members join a network with over 50,000 members and benefit from free online CE credits, scholarships, grants, and mentoring programs. Other benefits include discussion boards, national committees, discounted products, and free subscriptions.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I verify a nursing license in WV?
The West Virginia RN Board offers a free service to check RN or advanced practice licenses in the state, but Nursys provides official verification and can send this information to other state nursing boards for endorsement. RNs who earn an advanced license can use the West Virginia RN Board to get official license verification.
How do I get a WV RN license?
Aspiring RNs must earn an ADN at minimum. However, students interested in leadership opportunities may want to consider earning a BSN. Graduates must apply for and pass the NCLEX-RN. Practitioners with a license from another state should see if their state participates in the NLC. All need to apply on the West Virginia RN Board website.
How long does it take to get a WV RN license?
Students can earn an RN license with an associate degree in nursing. Full-time students can earn an ADN in two years, while part-time students take roughly double that amount of time. Students may also earn a BSN, which requires four years with full-time attendance.
How do I renew my WV RN license?
RNs need to complete 12 CE credits before renewing their license. Practitioners must earn CE credits from organizations accredited by the ANCC. Applicants must pay a $67 fee between September 1 and October 3 to avoid a lapsed license. Qualified applicants should apply through the West Virginia RN Board website and wait for approval.
Top Nursing Programs in West Virginia
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