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Best Nursing Compact States For 2022


Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

Are you a nurse interested in learning about compact nursing license states? Perhaps you already have a compact license and are wondering, “What are the best compact nursing license states?” In this article, we will explore the best nursing compact states for 2022 and give you some statistics about job opportunities and earning potential in each of them.


What Exactly Is A Nursing Compact State?


The Nursing Licensure Compact is an agreement between states allowing nurses to have one nursing license but the ability to practice in other states that are part of the agreement. A Nursing Compact State is a state that has implemented legislation adopting the Nurse Licensure Compact. Nursing compact states issue compact nursing licenses to nurses who have declared that state as a permanent state of residence which allows them to practice in other compact states.


What Is the Difference Between Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) And Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC)?


The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) is an updated version of the original Nurse Licensure Compact. The original NLC began in 2000, and by 2010 twenty-five states became members of nursing compact states. The primary reason other states cited for not joining the original Nurse Licensure Compact was the lack of uniform criminal background check requirements. The revised Compact, or eNLC, requires all member states to implement criminal background checks for all applicants upon licensure by endorsement or initial licensure.


Are The Current eNLC States The Same As The NLC States?


Florida, Georgia, Wyoming, West Virginia, and Oklahoma were not part of the original Nurse Licensure Compact, but they have implemented legislation and become part of the eNLC. Rhode Island was part of the original NLC but has not yet joined other compact RN license states by enacting the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact.


How Many States Are In The Nursing Compact?


There are thirty-seven states currently in the Nurse Licensure Compact. The states participating in the NLC span the United States from Idaho, Utah, and Arizona in the west to Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Virginia, North and South Carolina in the east. The list of compact nursing states in the chart below includes all states that are currently part of the eNLC.

Complete List of Nursing Compact States
Alabama Arizona Arkansas Colorado Delaware
Florida Georgia Idaho Indiana Iowa
Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland
Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska New Hampshire
New Jersey New Mexico North Carolina North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Pennsylvania South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee
Texas Utah Vermont Virginia West Virginia
Wisconsin Wyoming
(Source: National Council of State Boards of Nursing)


4 Benefits Of Being A Nurse In A Nursing Compact State


1. Fewer Complications When Working Contract or Short-Term Jobs:

Being a nurse in a Nursing Compact State removes the complications otherwise associated with practicing in multiple states. Nurses from Nursing Licensure Compact states can work across state lines without worrying about applying for licensure in each state or experiencing the burden of multiple renewal fees or requirements. This benefit is especially helpful for nurses who want to travel or do state-to-state contract nursing.

2. Relocation is easier.

A multi-state license makes it easier when nurses move from one state to another. If you move to another NLC state, it is necessary to update your residency status as soon as possible. The multi-state license allows you to practice in the interim, though, which is helpful. Military members and spouses who relocate due to service requirements find having a multi-state license makes relocation and work easier.

3. Telehealth and Virtual Nursing Jobs:

Nurses with a multi-state nursing license can hold telehealth and virtual nursing jobs. A multi-state license may be a requirement for some of these jobs, especially if the nurse must contact a patient who is in another state.

4. Volunteering is Easier!

Nurses who live in nursing compact states can volunteer for short-term projects or offer disaster relief without going through the red tape of applying for several single-state nursing licenses.


4 Drawbacks Of Being A Nurse In A Nursing Compact State


1. Some nurses in nursing compact states feel there is more competition for jobs.

Because nurses who hold a compact nursing license can practice between compact nursing states, jobs in those states may be occupied by non-residents of those states.
2. One of the main concerns among NLC critics is that there seems to be

interference with the oversite purposes of the state boards of nursing

, including vetting and tracking licensees and coordinating investigations and disciplinary actions.

3. States have traditionally had different requirements for professional nursing development.

Critics of the nurse licensure compact argue that the compact does not address uniformity for continuing education.
4. There is concern that differences between individual compact RN license state boards of nursing and state nursing standards may cause tension surrounding

disputes over jurisdiction

. This concern is especially problematic when there is no clear line establishing which board of nursing will manage an investigation or enforce disciplinary action against a nurse. For example, if a nurse whose permanent state of residency is Louisiana, but works in Alabama, which state is responsible for investigating or acting against her nursing license?


What Are The Requirements To Obtain A Compact State Nursing License?


Per the Uniform Licensure Requirements established by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, registered nurses who wish to apply for a multi-state license must meet the following criteria.

• Live in one of the compact RN license states
• Meet requirements for licensure in the applicant’s state of residency
• Graduate from a board-approved nursing program or an international education program approved by the authorized accredi5ting body in the applicable country and verified by an independent credentials review agency
• Pass an English proficiency examination (applies to graduates of international education programs not taught in English OR if English is not the applicant’s native language)
• Pass the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN examination
• Be eligible to obtain or presently hold an active, unencumbered license to practice as a nurse
• Submit to state and federal fingerprint-based criminal background checks
• Have no misdemeanor convictions related to the practice of nursing
• Not be convicted, found guilty of, or entered an agreed disposition of a felony offense under state or federal criminal law
• Not be a participant in an alternative program
• Have a valid United States social security number



How To Obtain A Compact State Nursing License?


A single-state nursing license does not automatically become a multi-state or compact license simply because you live in a compact state. Therefore, if you wish to obtain a compact state nursing license, you must first verify your state is part of the Nurse Licensure Compact. If your state is part of the eNLC and you meet the requirements for licensure established by your state, you may apply for the multi-state license.


How To Renew A Compact State Nursing License?


Nurses who live in nursing compact states will renew their eNLC licensure through their state board of nursing when it is time for their license renewal. Nurses may verify their license status with their state board of nursing and can also determine if they live in a compact state via the NCSBN, as well.


How We Ranked The Best Nursing Compact States?


To rank the best nursing compact license states, our team gathered data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and applied weight to each area of data. The factors we considered in ranking the best nursing compact states are the number of annual new and replacement RN job openings, the 10-year RN new employment growth, average RN salary, and the cost of living in each state.

Factor Weightage
Annual RN Job Openings (New +Replacement) 25%
10-Year RN New Employment Growth 25%
Average RN Salary 25%
Cost of Living 25%
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)



WHAT ARE THE BEST NURSING COMPACT STATES?

(The following is a list of 37 compact nursing license states. This list of compact nursing states is ranked in the order of the best to worst based on our above-mentioned ranking methodology.)

1. Texas

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

3,621

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

12,509

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

16,130

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+16.75%

Average RN Salary:

$76,800

Cost of Living:

92

Texas legislature adopted the Nurse Licensure Compact in 1999, and it became effective on January 1, 2000. The state implemented the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact on January 19, 2018. With a projected growth of 16.75% by 2030, creating more than 3,621 annual new job openings for registered nurses, Texas ranks as the #1 state in the Nurse Licensure Compact. The Texas Board of Nursing offers its nurses an interactive online course, Nursing Regulations for Safe Practice, which provides an overview of current Texas state laws and rules to help promote and uphold safe nursing practice while exercising a compact nursing license.

2. Georgia

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

1,742

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

4,598

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

6,340

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+22.49%

Average RN Salary:

$71,510

Cost of Living:

89.7

Georgia has been a part of the eNLC since January 2018. Like other states nationwide, the state is experiencing a rapidly growing population and seeing an increase in the number of retiring nurses making the demand for qualified nurses great. Registered nurses in Georgia earn an average annual salary of $75,510. The state anticipates a 22.49% growth in RN employment between 2020 and 2030, resulting in more than 1,742 annual new job openings.

3. Colorado

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

1,563

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

3,247

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

4,810

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+29.49%

Average RN Salary:

$77,860

Cost of Living:

104.2

Colorado is ranked #3 among the best compact nursing license states. The Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence cites “projected increases in demand for nursing, healthcare reform, Colorado’s growing population, and baby boomer nurse retirements” as reasons for the increased need for nurses in the state. The state expects to see nearly 1,563 annual new job openings for registered nurses, with a projected growth of 29.49% by 2030.

4. Missouri

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

1,213

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

4,317

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

5,530

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+16.24%

Average RN Salary:

$65,900

Cost of Living:

8

Missouri, with one of the lowest costs of living rates and average annual RN salaries of nearly $66,000, is one of the best nursing compact states. According to data from a WalletHub survey, the state ranks as the eighth-best overall state for nurses to work in, including high ranks for job opportunities. Missouri expects to see a more than 16% increase in nursing jobs through 2030, resulting in more than 1,213 new jobs annually.

5. Arizona

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

757

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

1,353

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

2,110

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+35.01%

Average RN Salary:

$80,380

Cost of Living:

101.3

The fifth-ranked best compact license state is Arizona. Although the state has more than 50,000 registered nurses in active practice, there remains a critical shortage of nurses. As a Nurse Licensure Compact state, Arizona offers opportunities for nurses from other compact states who hold a compact license to fill some of these nursing vacancies. The state ranks third among nurse compact states for average annual salary, which is $80,380. The RN workforce in Arizona is projected to experience a 35% growth through 2030, with approximately 757 new registered nurse jobs becoming available annually.

6. Florida

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

3,053

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

10,947

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

14,000

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+16.08%

Average RN Salary:

$69,510

Cost of Living:

99.8

Florida offers a diverse environment of nursing professionals and top-notch medical centers. The state joined the Nurse Licensure Compact during the 2016 regular Legislative Session and implemented the eNLC on January 19, 2018. Florida currently has 183,130 licensed registered nurses and, per data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, expects at least 3,053 new registered nurse job opportunities each year. Because the state's population is ever-growing, many sources say this number could grow. Currently, the ten-year employment growth rate is expected to be 16.08%.

7. Pennsylvania

eNLC Implementation Date:

eNLC enacted July 1, 2021. Implementation date is TBD.

Annual RN New Job Openings:

1,897

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

8,613

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

10,510

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+12.50%

Average RN Salary:

$74,170

Cost of Living:

104

Pennsylvania is home to more than 240,000 registered nurses as well as host to RNs practicing in the state under a multi-state license. Registered nurses earn an average of $174,170 yearly, and the Board of Nursing anticipates an additional 1,897 new job openings will be available each year, a growth of 12.50% through 2030. Pennsylvania offers excellent career and learning opportunities at some of the country's best colleges, universities, hospitals, and healthcare facilities, making it one of the best compact license states.

8. New Mexico

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

208

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

1,032

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

1,240

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+11.35%

Average RN Salary:

$75,700

Cost of Living:

89.3

According to the National Nursing Database, there are 24,821 registered nurses with active licenses in New Mexico. The state boasts of cities ranked as the best places to be a nurse; so, it's no surprise New Mexico is another of our featured best nursing compact states. The New Mexico population is expected to exceed two million people in 2022, creating more opportunities for nurses. In fact, the state anticipates an 11.35% increase in RN employment growth through 2030, an increase of 208 new jobs yearly.

9. Ohio

eNLC Implementation Date:

NLC enacted July 1, 2021. The implementation date is January 1, 2023.

Annual RN New Job Openings:

1,225

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

7,135

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

8,360

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+9.61%

Average RN Salary:

$69,750

Cost of Living:

92.2

Ohio enacted legislation on July 1, 2021, to join the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact and it is scheduled to be implemented on January 1, 2023. Ohio consistently ranks as one of the best states in the nation to be a nurse. The state employs more than 125,000 nurses, an average of 23.03 nurses per 1,000 residents. Per capita, Ohio is one of the top employers for nurses. The state offers several excellent nursing programs designed to prepare students to provide high-quality nursing care. Ohio registered nurses earn an average of $69,750 yearly. The state has a projected annual registered nurse job growth of nearly ten percent through 2030, averaging 1,225 new RN job openings each year.

10. Utah

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

659

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

1,431

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

2,090

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+28.15%

Average RN Salary:

$70,370

Cost of Living:

97.9

Utah comes in at #10 among the best compact nursing license states, according to our research. The state was part of the original NLC and implemented the enhanced NLC in 2018. Registered nurses in Utah earn approximately $70,370 yearly. The RN workforce in the state is expected to see more than a 28% increase in available jobs between 2020 and 2030, with 659 new registered nurse jobs becoming available each year.

11. Indiana

eNLC Implementation Date:

7/01/20

Annual RN New Job Openings:

854

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

3,896

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

4,750

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+12.43%

Average RN Salary:

$67,490

Cost of Living:

89.8

Indiana is home to an estimated 6.83 million people, making it the 17th largest populous state in the United States. The state implemented the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact on July 1, 2020. Registered nurses account for the largest professional group within the state's healthcare industry, with 103,066 RNs practicing. Indiana RNs make an average yearly salary of $67,490. The state anticipates a 12.43% RN employment growth by 2030, resulting in 854 annual new job openings.

12. New Jersey

eNLC Implementation Date:

11/15/21

Annual RN New Job Openings:

962

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

4,818

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

5,780

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+11.26%

Average RN Salary:

$85,720

Cost of Living:

116.8

Like other states across the nation, New Jersey is experiencing a serious healthcare crisis and a growing need for registered nurses. The state, which became part of the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact on November 15, 2021, anticipates 962 annual new RN job openings. The ten-year employment growth rate is expected to be at least 11.26%. Registered nurses in New Jersey earn an average annual salary of $85,720, making it one of the highest-paying, best compact nursing license states.

13. Virginia

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

774

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

3,726

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

4,500

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+11.74%

Average RN Salary:

$74,380

Cost of Living:

101.5

Virginia was among the first states to join the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact in January 2018 and is ranked as #13 among the best nursing compact states. Virginia Registered Nurses, including those with a compact license, who meet licensure requirements may renew their licenses every two years. Virginia RNs can expect to see a steady increase in available jobs with an 11.74% employment growth, averaging 774 new jobs each year through 2030.

14. Idaho

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

280

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

0

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

280

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+19.87%

Average RN Salary:

$71,640

Cost of Living:

93.9

With average annual salaries of $71,640 and a projected 10-year RN employment growth rate of 19.87%, Idaho is considered one of the best compact nursing license states. Idaho was one of the original NLC states. It joined the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact when it was implemented on January 19, 2018. There are currently 18,998 licensed registered nurses in Idaho serving a population of 1.98 million, making the nursing industry a good choice for job security in the state.

15. Tennessee

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

764

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

3,526

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

4,290

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+12.27%

Average RN Salary:

$64,120

Cost of Living:

89.7

While the average earnings of registered nurses in Tennessee are not the highest among our featured best compact nursing license states, the state does offer some perks for nurses. Tennessee is home to several nationally-renowned nursing programs and has high employment rates for RNs statewide. The state is a popular tourist spot bringing more than 120 million visitors annually, which means their need for nurses is constant. Tennessee anticipates a 12.27% growth in RN job opportunities by 2030, with approximately 764 new job openings annually.

16. Arkansas

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

355

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

1,495

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

1,850

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+13.51%

Average RN Salary:

$63,640

Cost of Living:

88.1

Arkansas Legislature passed the original Nurse Licensure Compact in 1999 and implemented it in July 2000. The state joined the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact in January 2018. Arkansas offers a low cost of living and a high nursing employment rate, making it a great place to be a nurse. Registered nurses in the state earn an average yearly salary of $63,640. The state is expected to see a ten-year RN job growth of 13.51%, adding 355 new registered nurse jobs each year.

17. Iowa

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

518

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

1,972

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

2,490

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+15.11%

Average RN Salary:

$62,570

Cost of Living:

91.3

The Iowa State Board of Nursing voted to initiate legislation promoting the Nurse Licensure Compact on July 17, 1998. The original NLC was implemented in the state in 2000. Iowa joined other states by implementing the enhanced NLC on January 19, 2018. According to the National Nursing Database, Iowa is home to almost 49,000 registered nurses with a population of 3.19 million. An estimated 518 new registered nurse jobs are expected annually, creating a 15.11% employment growth for RNs between 2020 and 2030.

18. North Carolina

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

1,127

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

5,893

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

7,020

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+10.77%

Average RN Salary:

$68,950

Cost of Living:

96.1

The original Nurse Licensure Compact was ratified in 1999 in North Carolina, and on July 20, 2017, it became the 26th state to pass eNLC legislation. The state is projected to see a 10.77 percent increase in RN jobs through 2030, with 1,127 new registered job openings each year, making it one of the RN compact states with a promising job outlook for registered nurses. RNs in North Carolina earn approximately $68,950 yearly, which is a comfortable salary in relation to the state’s 96.1 cost of living score.

19. Delaware

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

241

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

709

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

950

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+20.02%

Average RN Salary:

$74,330

Cost of Living:

107.7

Delaware has 16,401 licensed registered nurses and a population of 1.01 million. Delaware implemented the eNLC in January 2018. It is among one of the best-paying states for registered nurses, with an average annual RN salary of $74,330. The state is projected to experience a 20.02% increase in RN jobs between 2020 and 2030, adding 241 new registered nurse jobs each year.

20. Wyoming

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

82

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

298

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

380

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+16.17%

Average RN Salary:

$72,600

Cost of Living:

94.3

Although Wyoming did not join the original Nurse Licensure Compact, the state enacted the enhanced NLC on January 19, 2018. According to data from WalletHub, Wyoming is ranked as #4 nationwide among the best places to be a nurse. The National Nursing Database reports the state has 10,737 registered nurses serving a population of 581,813. RNs in Wyoming earn a generous annual salary of approximately $72,600. The state is projected to experience 82 new registered nurse job openings annually, resulting in a 16.17% increase in RN employment by 2030.

21. Wisconsin

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

442

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

3,158

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

3,600

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+7.76%

Average RN Salary:

$74,760

Cost of Living:

96.1

Wisconsin state legislature adopted the Nurse Licensure Compact in 1999. Governor Scott Walker signed a bill on December 11, 2017, promoting the state's participation in the enhanced NLC. The eNLC was implemented on January 19, 2018. Wisconsin is ranked as the 20th most populous state in the nation with an estimated 5.9 million residents, and it employs 88,000 RNs. The registered nurse workforce in Wisconsin is expected to grow by 7.76% between 2020 and 2030, with the addition of 442 new RN jobs each year.

22. Kentucky

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

615

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

2,665

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

3,280

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+13.11%

Average RN Salary:

$64,730

Cost of Living:

93.6

Kentucky was among the original Nurse Licensure Compact states and became one of the eNLC states by enacting legislation to adopt the enhancement in 2018. The Kaiser Family Foundation reports there are 58,756 registered nurses in the state. Kentucky RNs earn an average annual salary of $64,730. The state anticipates a ten-year RN employment growth of 13.11%, adding 615 new registered nurse jobs each year.

23. Oklahoma

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

323

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

1,987

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

2,310

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+9.10%

Average RN Salary:

$66,600

Cost of Living:

87.2

Oklahoma was one of the first states to pass legislation for the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact in 2018. The state has a population of more than four million and 56,000 registered nurses. Oklahoma expects a steady growth in registered nurse jobs by more than nine percent through 2030, anticipating the addition of 323 new RN jobs each year. Registered nurses in this RN compact state earn an average annual salary of $66,600.

24. West Virginia

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

319

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

1,231

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

1,550

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+14.89%

Average RN Salary:

$65,130

Cost of Living:

92.7

West Virginia, which became part of the original nurse licensure compact on April 26, 2017, is one of the top places for RN employment per capita. The state currently has 34,215 registered nurses and 4,318 APRNs. The state, which joined the eNLC states in 2018, has a population of 1.77 million. Registered nursing positions are projected to increase by 14.89% between 2020 and 2030. The state also anticipates 319 new job openings for RNs.

25. North Dakota

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

161

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

569

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

730

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+16.53%

Average RN Salary:

$69,630

Cost of Living:

96.5

North Dakota joined the original Nurse Licensure compact on January 1, 2004 and transitioned to the enhanced NLC beginning January 19, 2019. The registered nurse population in North Dakota is 1,096 per 100,000 residents, higher than the national average of 782 registered nurses per 100,000 people nationwide. RNs in North Dakota earn $69,630 on average. The U.S. Census Bureau reports North Dakota's population grew by 15.8% last year. The state anticipates a growth in registered nurse job opportunities of 16.53% through 2030, with 161 new job openings each year.

26. New Hampshire

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

175

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

785

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

960

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+12.65%

Average RN Salary:

$75,970

Cost of Living:

108.4

New Hampshire became one of the eNLC states in 2018, making it easier for nurses from other states to practice there. According to data from the Bi-State Primary Care Association of Vermont and New Hampshire, there is a high demand for registered nurses in nearly every part of New Hampshire. The state does not offer as many major metropolitan areas as other RN compact states. However, RNs in New Hampshire enjoy economic and professional stability, earning average yearly salaries of $75,970. The nursing profession in the state anticipates 175 new jobs each year, with a 12.65% employment growth for RNs through 2030.

27. Alabama

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/01/20

Annual RN New Job Openings:

538

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

2,962

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

3,500

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+10.21%

Average RN Salary:

$60,230

Cost of Living:

89.2

Alabama was one of two states in the southern United States that did not join the enhanced NLC when enacted in 2018. The state joined other eNLC states on January 1, 2020. Although it is one of the lower-paying states for registered nurses, Alabama is a top employer for RNs per capita. Registered nurses in the state earn a little more than $60,000 yearly. Alabama is projected to experience a ten-year RN employment growth of 10.21% between 2020 and 2030, adding 538 new registered nurse jobs each year.

28. Nebraska

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

295

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

1,495

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

1,790

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+11.12%

Average RN Salary:

$69,480

Cost of Living:

93

Nebraska joined the original Nurse Licensure Compact in 2001 and implemented the eNLC seventeen years later, in 2018. Despite renewal survey data that indicate the state has 23,972 licensed registered nurses, the state has a current shortage of 4,192 RNs. Nebraska is expected to see a ten-year employment growth of 11.12%, with 295 new RN job openings each year. However, the state still anticipates the shortage of RNs to increase to nearly 5,500 by 2025.

29. Maryland

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

1,313

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

3,837

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

5,150

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+21.66%

Average RN Salary:

$81,590

Cost of Living:

127.2

Maryland is home to more than 73,000 registered nurses and has a population of 6.2 million. It was the first state to join the original Nurse Licensure Compact in 1999 and implemented the eNLC in 2018. Although the cost of living is higher in Maryland, registered nurses earn more generous salaries than many of the other nursing compact states, with salaries averaging $81,590 annually. It is estimated the state will add 1,313 new RN jobs each year with a 21.66% RN employment growth between 2020 and 2030.

30. Kansas

eNLC Implementation Date:

7/01/19

Annual RN New Job Openings:

249

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

1,721

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

1,970

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+8.06%

Average RN Salary:

$64,200

Cost of Living:

86.8

Governor Jeff Colyer signed HB 2496 on April 10, 2018, allowing Kansas to join the Nurse Licensure Compact. The state implemented the eNLC on July 1, 2019. Kansas has one of the lowest cost of living rates among all the compact nursing license states, with a cost-of-living score of 86.8. The Kansas population of 2.9 million includes 60,141 registered nurses. New RN job openings are expected to increase by 249 yearly reflecting an 8.06% employment growth rate through 2030.

31. South Carolina

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

421

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

2,509

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

2,930

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+9.39%

Average RN Salary:

$67,140

Cost of Living:

95.9

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Resources, Health Resources and Services Administration, South Carolina is on track to have one of the worst nurse shortages nationwide by 2030. The state, which joined other eNLC states in 2018, has more than 41,000 resident registered nurses serving its population of 5.2 million. The outlook for nursing jobs in South Carolina is promising, anticipating 421 new job openings each year and a 9.39% increase in RN opportunities between 2020 and 2030.

32. Montana

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

109

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

591

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

700

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+10.40%

Average RN Salary:

$70,530

Cost of Living:

99.4

Montana saw one of the highest population growth rates this past year among all our featured RN compact states, from 1.08 million to 1.1 million. Sixteen thousand eight hundred seventy-six registered nurses have declared Montana their primary residence. RNs in the state earn approximately $70,530 annually, and the cost-of-living rate is 99.4. Montana joined the Nurse Licensure Compact in October of 2015 and transitioned to the eNLC in 2018. Registered nurses are expected to see a 10.4% increase in job opportunities through 2030, with 109 new RN jobs added each year.

33. Mississippi

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

198

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

2

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

200

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+6.12%

Average RN Salary:

$61,250

Cost of Living:

84.5

Mississippi became one of the original compact nursing license states in 2001 and implemented the enhanced compact in January of 2018. Registered nurses in Mississippi earn lower salaries than some of the other compact states, making approximately $61,250 annually, but living costs are also lower. The state anticipates decent growth in RN jobs, with about 198 new openings occurring each year.

34. South Dakota

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

170

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

740

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

910

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+13.14%

Average RN Salary:

$60,960

Cost of Living:

99.8

North Dakota was one of the twenty-five compact nursing license states joining the original NLC. The state followed others by implementing the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact, as well. North Dakota currently has 18,055 registered nurses and expects 170 new RN jobs to become available each year. These new jobs will result in a 13.14% RN employment growth between 2020 and 2030.

35. Maine

eNLC Implementation Date:

1/19/18

Annual RN New Job Openings:

97

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

823

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

920

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+6.53%

Average RN Salary:

$71,040

Cost of Living:

116.1

The Nurse Licensure Compact was enacted into rule on July 1, 2001, in Maine, and the enhanced NLC was implemented in January 2018. RNs in the state earn average annual salaries of $71,040. According to WalletHub, Maine ranks as #10 in the nation for the best places to work as a nurse. Maine is home to 1.3 million people, and 22,560 of them are registered nurses. The population has seen a steady increase each year since 2010, with more than 10,000 new residents in 2021. The state anticipates employment opportunities for registered nurses will grow by 6.53% during the ten years between 2020 and 2030, with 97 new jobs added each year.

36. Vermont

eNLC Implementation Date:

2/01/22

Annual RN New Job Openings:

54

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

376

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

430

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

+7.96%

Average RN Salary:

$72,140

Cost of Living:

116.4

Vermont is the 49th populous state in the United States, with 647,378 residents. The National Nursing Database reports Vermont has 14,614 registered nurses, equal to one RN for every 44.3 residents. Vermont is one of the newest compact nursing license states, implementing the Compact on February 1, 2022. Along with a 2.8 percent population increase, which has become a steady trend for the state, Vermont expects a nearly eight percent increase in RN employment with the addition of at least 54 new registered nurse job openings yearly through 2030.

37. Louisiana

eNLC Implementation Date:

7/01/19

Annual RN New Job Openings:

N/A

Annual RN Replacement Job Openings:

N/A

Total Annual RN Job Openings (New + Replacement):

N/A

10-Year RN New Employment Growth (2020-2030):

N/A

Average RN Salary:

$68,010

Cost of Living:

93.2

Louisiana is home to more than 4.5 million people. The state, with 66,076 registered nurses, did not join the original Nurse Licensure Compact but became the 31st state to join the eNLC. According to the Louisiana State Board of Nursing, ninety percent of the registered nurses practicing in Louisiana are residents of the state, while the other ten percent reside outside the state. Forty-seven percent of the non-resident RNs practicing in Louisiana are from other nursing compact states. RNs in Louisiana earn approximately $68,010 yearly.



What Is the Difference Between a Compact and Non-Compact State?


The difference between compact and non-compact states is the number of licenses a nurse must obtain. Nurses who declare a compact nursing state as their primary state of residence can hold one compact license that allows them to practice in any state in the Nursing Licensure Compact. Conversely, those who live in non-compact states may only apply for single-state licenses. Nurses in non-compact states may apply for as many single-state licenses as they wish.


How Many States Are Non-Compact Nursing States?


There are currently thirteen states who remain non-compact nursing states. Among the states which are not compact nursing license states, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Rhode Island have pending legislation which would allow them to join the Nurse Licensure Compact.

Complete List of Nursing Non-Compact States
Alaska California Connecticut Hawaii Illinois
Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Nevada New York
Oregon Rhode Island Washington
(Source: National Council of State Boards of Nursing)


Why Have Some States Not Joined The Nursing Compact?


The states that have not joined the Nursing Compact offer different reasons. For example, California states its concern about maintaining quality standards and state training, which policy-makers feel are not adequately addressed by the eNLC. Members of the Ohio Nurses Association voiced concerns that states participating in the Nurse Licensure Compact will lose the ability to review and approve nurses who wish to practice within their jurisdiction. Another concern non-compact states voice is the financial impact compact licenses have on individual state boards of nursing. Nurses who live in compact states pay one licensing fee but have the right to practice in all compact states without paying for separate licensure, reducing the amount of money paid to states for issuing licenses.


How Has Covid-19 Impacted The Nurse Licensure Compact?


The Nurse Licensure Compact is a valuable resource for states during the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of patients worldwide affected by COVID-19 and the impact it has had on healthcare providers resulted in states, territories, and the District of Columbia declaring an emergency and lifting traditional state licensure regulations. The pandemic created an increased awareness of the benefit of the Nurse Licensure Compact in times of disaster when relief is needed.


Useful Resources For Information On Compact Nursing License States


Many valuable resources offer information about the Nurse Licensure Compact and the states involved. The following are a few examples of Facebook pages, YouTube videos, and websites where you can find more information about the eNLC.

Facebook

Nurse Licensure Compact: This is the official page of the Nurse Licensure Compact. Here you will find information about current state statutes regarding Compact participation, free NLC educational webinars, and news affecting nurses nationwide.

You Tube

What Is the Nurse Licensure Compact? (how it works, what states participate, applying for a license): Host, Courtney B., answers questions about the NLC, which states are involved, and how to apply for and maintain a multi-state license.
Is My Nursing License Valid in Other States? Nursing Compact Licensure Agreement (RegisteredNurseRN): This video addresses what the Nursing Licensure Compact Agreement is, which states are Compact States, and offers sample scenarios for working between compact-to-compact states, compact-to-noncompact, and noncompact-to-compact states.

Websites/Blogs

American Nurses Association (ANA)
National Council of State Boards of Nursing
Nurse Licensure Compact


My Final Thoughts


In this article, we have discussed the answer to the question, “What are the best compact nursing license states?” The best nursing compact states for 2022 featured in this article offer nurses the opportunity to apply for licensure in their permanent state of residency but have the privilege of working in any compact state.


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ANSWERED BY OUR EXPERT


1. Is A Multi-State Nursing License The Same As Compact Nursing State License?

Yes, multi-state and compact nursing licenses are the same. When the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) license is referenced, the terms multi-state license and compact license are used interchangeably.

2. As A Nurse How Do I Stay Informed Regarding eNLC Updates?

The best way to stay informed about eNLC updates is to visit the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) website. The NCSBN is an independent, nonprofit organization through which nursing regulatory bodies act and counsel together regarding areas of common interest, including the development of nursing licensure examinations. The NCSBN updates its website with new information to keep nurses informed.

3. Why Is California Not A Nursing Compact State?

According to CaliforniaHealthline.org, California does not plan to join the Nurse Licensure Compact. Decision-makers cite concerns about maintaining state training and quality standards as their main reason for not joining the compact.

4. Will The Non-Compact States Join The Nursing Compact?

Advocates for the Nursing Compact are hopeful that non-compact states will join the NLC. Some states that were not part of the original Compact have pending legislation to join the eNLC. Your state board of nursing can give information specific to your state and its involvement in the NLC.

5. How Do I Get A Compact License If I Live In A Compact State And Have A Single-State License For That State?

If you live in a Compact State but have a single-state license, you may contact your state board of nursing to initiate the request to convert to a multi-state license. If you are unsure whether your license is a multi-state or single state, you can use Quick Confirm at www.nursys.com. There is no cost to verify.

6. What To Do If I Have A Compact Nursing License, But The State I Am Practicing In Is No Longer Part Of The eNLC?

Per the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, "Residents of non-compact states are not bound by Compact rules. NLC rules permit a licensee to hold only one compact license in the primary state of residence. As a resident of a non-compact state, you must apply for a license by endorsement in a compact state. If granted, your eligibility will be limited to a single state license valid only in that state. You may, however, have as many single-state licenses as you wish.”

7. If I Have A Compact Nursing License, How Long Can I Work In Another Compact State?

If you maintain legal residence in the state that issued your multi-state license and keep your license in good standing, you can work in other compact states without regard to a time limit.

8. If I Have A Compact Nursing License, Can I Permanently Relocate To Another Compact State?

If you permanently relocate to another Compact state, you must apply for licensure by endorsement and complete a Declaration of Primary State of Residency form, which can be found on your state board of nurse's website. Keep in mind there is no grace period, so it is imperative to make your Declaration and apply for licensure by endorsement as soon as possible.

9. Why Is My Employer Asking Me To Get A License In The State Of Employment Even Though I Already Have A Compact Nursing License?

If you live in a compact state and possess a compact nursing license issued by your primary state of residency, you may practice nursing in that state as well as any other compact state. If you are working in a state that has not yet implemented the eNLC or where implementation is pending, your employer may require you to get a single state license to work for them.


Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).