West Virginia Careers

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What's in this webpage

Much of your life will be determined by your career path -- your salary, the likelihood of experiencing periods of unemployment, who your co-workers are, your control over the work that you do, your chances for growth and advancement, and more.

The good news is that actually, most Americans are pretty happy with their work. Furthermore, there's good evidence that earning a relative modest "living wage" will give you as much happiness as a person making a million dollars a year. While "you only live once" is true, in America, unlike most countries, you can have a lot of careers and make a lot of mistakes before you find yourself. In fact, most Americans have many different careers.

If these types of thoughts interest you, we'd urge you to take the Career Strategies course -- this is offered as part of CSM (there's no additional fee). It will talk about the different between having jobs and having a career (it's likely different than you think), what a living wage is, how to choose between different educational and job opportunities, how to gain purpose and passion from any job that you have, and how most people switch careers and how you can do it yourself.

In this webpage, we'll introduce you to the job market here in West Virginia, and start you thinking about careers. At the same time, we'll give some information on the living wage in different areas of West Virginia, and perhaps start you thinking about a target for how much you want to earn at different times in your life.

Overview of education and training

There's a lot to learn, but you need to know what your options are, and you need to have a plan. This is the first of 3 pages to help you -- here we'll talk about all the options for education and training, in a second page we'll talk about careers in West Virginia, and in the third page, we'll talk about who the employers are and how to find jobs.

We suggest that you look at all three pages a couple of times -- to know about careers, you need to know about the training costs and availability, and you'll want to know if there are employers who need these careers near you.

Depending on how much you already know about your education and training options, we'd suggest that you scan through the different sections below. At the beginning of each, we'll describe what the training is and how long it takes, general costs, things to think about. And each section will outline the options that are available across the state, in your region and online.


The US government has identified about 900 categories of occupation in the US workforce! Below, we'll provide a list of many of these occupations in a way that you can scan through them. In addition, there's a link that you can use to get more detailed information on wages, educational requirements, the types of tasks a person in the occupation does, the skills they need, and more.

THIS LIST IS A BIT OVERWHELMING!! We don't expect you to look through this in great detail, but scanning through it is a good way of understanding that you have many more options than you probably thought. When most people are asked about jobs in hospitals, they're thinking doctor, nurse,.... and then it's head scratching time. In fact, according to the WV Hospital Association, the answer is more than 100 occupation types -- it includes dieticians, respiratory therapists, certified nurse assistants, janitors, the people who figure out insurance, and many more.

You will be spending 80,000 hours of your life working, and it's worth the effort to take 30 minutes or an hour to scan through the list and begin to build an understanding of the wider job market.

How to scan

We have split the jobs by education required:

  • No education required
  • A high school diploma or high school equivalency required
  • Vocational school, certificate program, associate degree or experience
  • A 4-year bachelor's degree
  • An advanced degree

Note that not all jobs in the state are listed, but this includes many of the most popular ones, and altogether most jobs in West Virginia.

How good is this information?

West Virginia has rural and urban areas with different wages and job distributions. The wage and number of jobs for each occupation were averaged over the entire state -- many wages are somewhat higher in population centers and less in rural areas, but the numbers should be generally in the ballpark across the state. And remember, not every dental hygenist, for example, gets paid the same. This is just an average.

The number of jobs estimated for two locations so that you can get a sense of the number of local jobs:

  • Kanawha County -- this has about 10% of the population of West Virginia, with nearly 180,000 people
  • Greenbrier County is a county of intermediate size (16th largest population of 55 counties), with a population of 33,000.

From these two counties, you might be able to get a sense of the number of equivalent jobs in your county.

Click below on the level of education you're at (or interested in) for a listing of jobs.

> Jobs that don't require any education <

< Jobs that require a high school diploma or equivalency >

< Jobs that require a vocational certificate, associate degree or relevant experience >

< Jobs that require a 4-year bachelor's degree >

< Jobs that require an advanced or professional degree >

< Jobs in the military >

There are jobs of all types in the military -- frontline soldiers, logistics and maintenance, pilots, intelligence officers, members of the band! And these jobs require all sorts of academic backgrounds.

Many of the jobs pay competitively, but the jobs have many superior benefits: signing bonuses; educational benefits; lifetime health benefits; free housing; excellent pension benefits; better rates on home loans; and more. Click here for more.

Take CSM!!!

One thing to take into account is that there is an entrance examination called the ASVAB -- this test will determine which jobs you are eligible for. This will affect your pay, training and advancement opportunities, and more.

You should study for the ASVAB. While there are test preparations specific for the ASVAB, CSM is an excellent preparation, and it's free for adults in West Virginia through adult education. If you are planning on entering the military, a little bit of study will go a long way to your future!

Living wage

The living wage gives a rough impression of how much you need to earn in order to provide for housing, food and other necessities, and should give you some buffer from sliding into poverty. It also is meant to indicate the ability to maintain a reasonable quality of life, and people who earn a living wage tend to be roughly as happy as people who earn much, much more -- your happiness will be more dependent on your relationships with other people in your life.

The living wage is not one number, but it differs according to where you live, whether you're married and if your partner has a job, and how many children you have. And it's an approximation -- earning $1000 less won't make you miserable (or maybe any less happy!).

Below is the living wage calculations for West Virginia as whole -- the numbers for different counties and cities are generally within about 5% of these numbers. If you'd like to look up the information for your specific county or metro region, click here.


  • Minimum wage in West Virginia is $8.75, which works out to about $18,000 in full-time work.
  • To get from the wages given in hourly pay to an annual salary, double the hourly wage and then make it into thousands (people work a rough 2000 hours per year) -- so $15/hour would be about $15 x 2 = $30 x 1,000 = $30,000.
  • Poverty wage gets you to the poverty level defined by the US government.
  • The median wage in West Virginia (half below, half above) is about $37,000 - this is about $18/hour.
  • The median household income (that is, there may be more than one wage earner) is $51,000 -- this is about $25/hour.

Reading the table above, if there are 2 adults working at the median wage ($18/hour), they could have 1 child at the living wage level.


These are family expenses for different numbers of adults and children, and it relates to overall family income -- for example, there may be two different adults working (and maybe at more than 2 jobs!).

The main driver of the living wage expenses with children is child care -- both when they are young, as well as for summers and breaks. If you have an alternative supply of childcare (for example, by a grandparent), there can be a considerable discount.