Compact States Nursing: Do I Need a Multi-State Nursing License?

By gabriel


Do the words “compact states nursing” sound familiar? Perhaps you’ve been talking with your travel nurse buddy!

Nurses in the compact states nursing program have access to improved job flexibility, salaries, and advancement opportunities.

You may describe such nurses as “hotshots,” considering the understaffed culture in most large hospitals.

Are you interested in it already? Keep reading to discover essential information about this system, such as the application process, moving scenarios, and what it means for nurses and the public.

Let’s sail!

Key Takeaways

  • The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) allows nurses to work in multiple states with a single license.
  • Nurses with a multi-state license enjoy greater flexibility regarding work terms, schedule, and certification requirements.

What Is Compact States Nursing?

Compact states nursing is an initiative designed by the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) to allow RNs to work across participant states with a single license.

This alliance consists of about 39 states, so owning one such license permits you to practice from Alabama to Mississippi across the country!

With this arrangement, becoming a travel nurse is as easy as giving an injection, as you’ll read below. But, first, how does the compact nursing state program work?

In comes Nursys!

What is Nursys?

Nursys is a national online database that tracks all RNs, LPN/VNs, and APRNs in the US. The resource has numerous uses, such as entering/reviewing disciplinary records, collecting/logging profession-specific reports, and verifying a nurse licensure status.

Consequently, Nursys serve as the backbone for compact nursing. Potential employers can find out your professional records and licensure status, notwithstanding your previous state of practice.

Nurses may also use Nursys to manage their license information in a one-stop portfolio.

Is There Any Difference Between the NLC and the eNLC?

eNLC (Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact) is a frequent term in compact nursing discourses. So, is it different from the NLC we mentioned earlier?


eNLC is simply an update on the original setup of compact nursing. The new system implements specific changes, starting with the need for a licensure verification board to review multi-state license applicants’ criminal records.

Other changes lie in oversight, with a new Interstate Commission agency responsible for overseeing the compact. Under the eNLC, all rules are established by the Interstate Commission for all participating states, not by individual states. Many suggest that the eNLC makes it easier for non-participating states to become members.

What Is a Primary State of Residence?

A primary state of residence refers to your legal residency status. Only nurses primarily resident in an eNLC-state can participate in compact nursing.

You can prove your residency through your driver’s license or voter registration card.

What Happens If I Move From a Compact State to a Non-compact State?

Note you can travel for jobs in different states with your multi-state license. However, officially moving to a non-compact state forfeits your benefits under the program, and subsequently, you lose your multi-state license.

How Can I Confirm My Multi-state Licensure Status?

You can confirm if your application for a multi-state license succeeds by using the Quick Confirm option on

May I Be Disqualified From Obtaining a Compact Nursing License?

Yes, several conditions may disqualify you from securing a multi-state license. They include:

  • Primary residence in a non-eNLC state
  • Having a misdemeanor/felony conviction
  • Losing your license due to disciplinary measures

What States Participate in the Compact Nursing Program?

The following states are participants in the Compact Nursing Program:

  • 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

Note Alaska, California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Washington, and the Virgin Islands are awaiting entry into the Compact States Nursing Program as of March 2022, while Ohio is working towards eNLC eligible by January 1, 2023.

What Are the Benefits of Compact Nursing?

The compact nursing program is beneficial to nurses and society. Here’s how!

Fosters Travel Nursing

Owning a multi-state license enables working as a travel nurse with a $5,000/weekly wage potential. Thanks to the unique uses of TNs in filling critical short-term needs and promoting healthcare in short-staffed medical institutions.

Improved Healthcare Provision

Hospitals and other health settings in eNLC-participating states can provide seamless healthcare by hiring travel nurses. Additionally, underserved areas can enjoy a steady influx of qualified nurses to meet staffing requirements.

Less Administrative Hassle

Working as a nurse is a straightforward affair with fewer licenses to obtain. Remember, securing a license may be complex and time-consuming in some cases. Fortunately, a multi-state license resolves this concern.

The fees are cheaper, too. A multi-state license spares you some states’ higher application and renewal fees.

Who Is a Travel Nurse?

The compact nursing program opens the pathway to travel nursing, so let’s see what this benefit entails.

A TN is a nurse who takes on short-term nursing assignments in eNLC-eligible states within 6 to 26 weeks. These nurses can work in hospitals, midwifery centers, and other healthcare settings and are usually secured by recruitment agencies.

There’s a shortage of nurses nationwide, particularly in rural areas. So there’s a pronounced need for TNs recently.

Travel nurses come with all types of backgrounds and specializations. A significant advantage of travel nursing over standard RNs is the opportunity for higher pay, among other perks.

How Much Do Travel Nurses Earn?

Owing to numerous researches, the unanimous annual average for TNs is $109,398 — an excellent figure compared to the $75,330 for typical RNs.

Note salaries vary according to location, experience, workload, and employer. For instance, California offers much higher salaries than Idaho, courtesy of the higher living costs..

For insight, this ZipRecruiter table presents the average annual Travel Nurse Salary and hourly rate per state.

State Mean Annual Avg Hourly
Alabama $92,602 $44.52
Alaska $94,114 $45.25
Arizona $98,292 $47.26
Arkansas $81,734 $39.30
California $88,691 $42.64
Colorado $86,953 $41.80
Connecticut $97,321 $46.79
Delaware $86,609 $41.64
Florida $89,364 $42.96
Georgia $94,818 $45.59
Hawaii $99,116 $47.65
Idaho $83,034 $39.92
Illinois $81,291 $39.08
Indiana $97,662 $46.95
Iowa $88,928 $42.75
Kansas $88,565 $42.58
Kentucky $83,353 $40.07
Louisiana $90,865 $43.68
Maine $82,704 $39.76
Maryland $92,651 $44.54
Massachusetts $101,389 $48.74
Michigan $81,578 $39.22
Minnesota $93,695 $45.05
Mississippi $82,989 $39.90
Missouri $86,234 $41.46
Montana $99,314 $47.75
Nebraska $91,107 $43.80
Nevada $93,373 $44.89
New Hampshire $114,727 $55.16
New Jersey $97,720 $46.98
New Mexico $89,382 $42.97
New York $118,145 $56.80
North Carolina $74,285 $35.71
North Dakota $93,741 $45.07
Ohio $93,171 $44.79
Oklahoma $84,676 $40.71
Oregon $89,723 $43.14
Pennsylvania $100,907 $48.51
Rhode Island $95,210 $45.77
South Carolina $87,174 $41.91
South Dakota $91,004 $43.75
Tennessee $93,856 $45.12
Texas $80,150 $38.53
Utah $91,570 $44.02
Virginia $89,912 $43.23
Vermont $88,686 $42.64
Washington $97,787 $47.01
West Virginia $102,645 $49.35
Wisconsin $94,014 $45.20
Wyoming $105,304 $50.63


Find out more about how much a travel nurse makes, Travel Nurse salary.

How Long Are Travel Nursing Contracts?

Travel nursing contracts may last for only six weeks or as long as 26. However, the client may extend the contract if the nurse offers a satisfactory service and accepts the extension.

Do TNs Enjoy Other Benefits Apart From the Higher Earnings?

The answer is mostly yes, and the standard benefits include a housing stipend and allowances.

However, you can enjoy more TN benefits depending on your agency.

A good agency works with a massive network of hospitals and institutions so they can tailor your search according to your preferences.

For example, some travel nurses prefer higher fixed hourly rates and a specific type of facility over bonuses and overtime opportunities.

What Are the Requirements To Become a Travel Nurse?

Becoming a TN requires fulfilling the following criteria:

  1. Obtain an associate’s degree (ADN) or bachelor’s degree (BSN) in nursing.
  2. Pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to become a registered nurse.
  3. Obtain at least one year of hands-on experience. Some health settings may require that you have several years of experience.
  4. Work towards additional certifications to optimize your chances of success. Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certifications are positives to carry on a resume.
  5. Secure a reputable travel nurse staffing agency. Such an agency has the inside connection to earn you placement in many hospital networks.

Remember, the ideal travel nurse staffing agency will tailor your job search based on your preferences. For example, your weather, overtime, and availability preferences play significant parts in your assignment.

What Certification/accreditation Do I Look For in a Travel Nurse Staffing Agency?

We recommend going with travel nursing agencies credentialed by the Joint Commission. The Joint Commission applies standardized performance measures to ensure travel nurses meet critical criteria, such as high acceptance rates and minimum turnover rates.

What Travel Nurse Staffing Agencies Do You Recommend?

We have three travel nursing staffing agencies in mind. They are Aya Healthcare, Axis Medical Staffing, and Triangle Staffing. All are known for exceptional coverage (all 50 states) and benefits, including 401(k) company matches and weekly direct deposits.

How Can I Learn More About the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact?

You can do more reading on the eNLC through

The site offers a color-coded map of participating and non-participating states and current news on pending NLC legislation states.

How Do I Apply to the Compact States Nursing Program?

Kindly take these steps to enroll in the compact nursing program:

  • Confirmation: Confirm that your state is an eNLC-participant.
  • Apply for a Multi-State License: Visit your state board of nursing website and select “apply for a new license.” Note you must be an RN, have your proof of residency, and meet other criteria.
  • Wait: Expect a response in a few days after you apply.
  • Apply for Travel Nursing Jobs: Register as a TN on medical staffing agencies. Remember, reputable staffing agencies have a foot in the door with medical networks, 50-state coverage, enhanced benefits, and other benefits to keep your work life in top shape.

Can I Transfer My Credits From Another Nursing Program to a Compact States Nursing Program?

The answer depends on where you’re moving from and vice versa. Is your current location a compact nursing state? If yes, your answer is positive.

Otherwise, you must apply for licensure by endorsement in your new state of residency to transfer your RN license from a non-compact state to a compact one. Your non-compact state individual state license will remain active.

On the other hand, you must apply for licensure by endorsement in the new state of residency and convert your compact license to a single-state license to transfer your RN license from a compact to a non-compact state. Additionally, you must notify your state’s board of nursing of your move for inactivation.

Lastly, you will need to practice on your former residence license for up to 90 days to transfer your RN license from one compact state to another. Any move also requires a 1 to 2-month advanced timeframe to apply for licensure endorsement in your new home state.

What Happens if I Move Out of State While Enrolled in a Compact States Nursing Program?

It’s essential to note the difference between compact and non-compact states.

A non-compact state resident can apply for an endorsement license in a compact state.

Otherwise, they will only be able to work with a single-state license in the non-participating state and any states where they obtain single-state licenses.

Can I Complete My Entire Nursing Degree Online Through the Compact States Nursing Program?

Yes, you can enroll in compact state nursing if you secure your RN license online. What’s necessary is to ensure the awarding institution is accredited.

The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) revolutionizes the nursing profession by enabling Registered Nurses (RNs) to practice across multiple states with a single multi-state license. This initiative, supported by approximately 39 states, significantly enhances job flexibility, allowing nurses to easily transition between roles in different states without the need for additional licenses. The NLC not only facilitates the mobility of nursing professionals but also addresses the critical staffing needs of healthcare facilities nationwide.

By simplifying the licensure process, the NLC ensures that qualified nurses can provide care where it’s most needed, particularly in underserved areas. This streamlined approach to nursing licensure is a boon for the healthcare industry, promoting a more responsive and efficient workforce capable of meeting the diverse healthcare needs of the American population.

For nurses considering taking advantage of the NLC, or for healthcare facilities navigating the legal intricacies of employing nurses under this compact, Legal counselors listed at offer expert guidance and support, ensuring that both practitioners and employers fully benefit from the opportunities presented by the Nurse Licensure Compact.

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