Colorado Nursing Resources

    Colorado Nursing Resources

    Thinking about working in Colorado? Here's everything you need to know about being a nurse in the Centennial State.


    Despite the fact that hiring of new nurse graduates has slowed recently, Colorado's nursing schools have been urged not to decrease their enrollments. 

    The Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence states "projected increases in demand for nurses due to health care reform, baby boomer nurse retirements, and Colorado's growing older population" as causes for an increased need for nurses across the state.

    Part One Colorado State Board Of Nursing

    The Colorado Board of Nursing is responsible for enforcing statutes, rules, and policies for all nurses, nurses aides, and psychiatric technicians in the state.

    Contacting The Board

    Office Address

    1560 Broadway, Suite 1350
    Denver, CO 80202
    Phone: (303) 894-2430 
    Fax: (303) 894-2821

    Colorado State Board of Nursing website

    Office Hours

    8am - 5pm, Monday - Friday (Except Government Holidays)

    Part Two Colorado Nursing Licenses

    Colorado is currently part of the Nurse Licensure Compact, which means a Colorado License is valid the following compact states:

    • Arizona
    • Arkansas
    • Delaware
    • Idaho
    • Iowa
    • Kentucky
    • Maine
    • Maryland
    • Mississippi
    • Missouri
    • Montana
    • Nebraska
    • New Hampshire
    • New Mexico
    • North Carolina
    • North Dakota
    • Rhode Island
    • South Carolina
    • South Dakota
    • Tennessee
    • Texas
    • Utah
    • Virginia
    • Wisconsin


    All nursing license and certificate applications, including permission to take the NCLEX must be submitted online using Colorado's DORA (Dept. Of Regulatory Agencies) system.  For assistance, contact the licensing department directly:

    Phone: (303) 894-7800
    Fax: (303) 894-7693

    There are two ways to obtain nursing licensure in Colorado:

    • Licensure by Exam (first-time nurses)
    • Licensure by Endorsement (out-of-state nurses)

    You must apply for nurse licensure online through Colorado's DORA system.  Before you begin, make sure you have all the required information.

    Requirements for those applying by Examination or Endorsement:

    • Verify other licenses. See below for additional information on License Verification through Nursys.
    • Pay the required fee. You must pay the application processing fee with a credit card or electronic check to complete the application process.

      Examination = $ 88
      Endorsement = $43
    • Complete the Affidavit of Eligibility. You will be asked to attest to and provide information that you are lawfully present in the United States or otherwise eligible to work here.
    • Provide your social security number. Those who don't have a social security number must submit a signed Social Security Number Affidavit.
    • Provide name change documentation (if applicable).
    • Answer the screening questions, provide documents about criminal history or disciplinary actions. 
    • Nurse Licensure Compact.  You should check whether your current license is from a state that is part of the Nurse Licensure Compact. See below for more information on Multi-state licenses and NLC.
    • Qualifications. Colorado has a mandatory practice act, which means that you may not practice as a Registered Nurse in this state without a Colorado or other compact state license.
    • Healthcare Professions Profiling Program (HPPP). You will be asked a series of questions concerning your practice during your online application. This profile is required for healthcare professionals in Colorado. Your Healthcare Professions Profile is an ongoing responsibility; you must update your profile online within 30 days of changes and/or reportable events. As you complete your profile, please read the instructions carefully.

      For more information visit: or call 303-894-5942.


    The Nurse Licensure Compact became effective in Colorado on October 1, 2007, allowing nurses licensed in Colorado to practice in other compact states.

    A nurse may hold only one compact license and it must be issued by his/her state of primary residence. If you declare your primary state of residence to be a compact state other than Colorado, you should not apply for licensure in Colorado.You may be required to provide proof of residency, which may include but is not limited to a Colorado driver’s license, voter registration or income tax return.

    If you declare a non-compact state as your state of primary residence, and you meet all other requirements for licensure in Colorado, you will receive a single-state license valid for practice only in Colorado. For a list of states participating in the Compact or for additional information regarding the Compact visit:

    You may be required to provide proof of residency, which may include a Colorado driver’s license, voter registration, or income tax return. If you declare a non-compact state as your state of primary residence, and you meet all other requirements for licensure in Colorado, you will receive a single-state license valid for practice only in Colorado.

    For a list of states participating in the Compact or for additional information regarding the Compact visit: or


    Colorado utilizes the Nursys database to verify licenses. If you are moving from another state, begin by registering with in order to speed up the license endorsement process.


    All Colorado nursing licenses expire on September 30 every two years.

    If you are issued a license within 120 days of the upcoming renewal expiration date, you will be issued a license with the subsequent expiration date. This means that any licenses issued between June 1 - December 31 will be valid until September 30 two years later.

    For example:

    If your license was issued on July 1, 2015, it would be up for renewal on September 30, 2017.

    If your license was issued between January 1 - May 31, 2015, your renewal date would be September 30, 2016. 


    In the online application, you will be asked a series of screening questions related to your criminal history and/or pending complaints filed against you in other jurisdictions (if applicable).

    This may require you to upload court documents or other material. Please review DPO’s information regarding the disclosure of criminal history contained at the end of this checklist.

    Part Four Nursing Salaries 

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the average annual salary for nurses in Colorado are as follows:

    Colorado Nursing Salaries By Practice Level

    Practice Level Hourly mean wage Hourly Range
    LPNs and LVNs $23.41 $17.7 - 29.56
    Registered Nurses $33.92 $25.16 - 46.19
    Nurse Anesthetists $70.39 $38.71 - 98.28
    Nurse Midwives $45.38 $40.01 - 55.57
    Nurse Practitioners 51.52 $36.42 - 66.78

    Some metro areas have higher pay rates than others. Here are the highest:

    Highest Paying Cities For Colorado RNs

    Metro Area Hourly mean wage Hourly Range
    Boulder 35.80 $26.18 - 47.53
    Colorado Springs 32.16 $24.89 - 43.85
    Denver 34.79 $25.28 - 47.25
    Fort Collins 31.70 $25.41 - 39.36
    Grand Junction 33.84 $25.03 - 45.73
    Greeley 32.65 $25.09 - 43.48
    Pueblo 32.21 $25.32 - 43.26

    Related: Highest Paying Cities For RNs

    While these numbers are the reported averages, nurses have the ability to earn even more depending on responsibilities, certifications, and shift differentials.

    How To Increase Your Nursing Salary

    Certifications such as CCRN, CPN, and RNC will all earn individuals additional pay depending on the hospital system. This can vary depending on a variety of factors but nurses can either receive a one-time bonus or an increase in their hourly wage. It is important to check with employers regarding this. 

    Shift differentials range from 5%-20% depending on the shift work. Weekend night shifts pay more than weekday day shifts. Before accepting any position it is important to speak to Human Resources to understand the shift differential at each hospital. Furthermore, some hospitals will only provide a shift differential if a nurse is paid on an hourly basis. Rarely are salaried employees eligible for this benefit.

    Participating in hospital- and unit-based committees may also contribute to higher earnings. Hospitals, particularly Magnet-designated, commonly have numerous opportunities in which to participate.

    While participation alone does not increase pay, it can help a nurse climb the clinical ladder. With each step in the clinical ladder, there is also a pay increase.

    Precepting new nurses can also be a way to earn bonuses. Most hospitals offer bonuses for precepting new nurses. This is paid in two lump sums. The first payment is after the new nurse is off of orientation while the final payment is after the new staff member has been in the hospital system for a full year. This is a great incentive for senior nurses to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of nurses.

    Typical Benefits For Nurses

    Nurses enjoy strong benefits throughout Colorado. Actual benefits including healthcare will vary depending on the healthcare institution. Most institutions will only offer benefits to part-time and full-time employees. Rarely are they offered to per diem or contracted employees.

    Standard benefits include:

    • Disability insurance
    • Vision insurance
    • Retirement options
    • Discounts on a variety of products
    • Dental coverage
    • Maternity leave
    • Health insurance
    • Childcare support
    • Various memberships related to the organization
    • Leave benefits

    See a full ranking of all 50 states salaries adjusted for the cost-of-living

    Part Five Best Hospitals In Colorado

    With more than 1.7 million nurses employed at inpatient hospitals, understanding key differences between these facilities is important. You'll want to know which hospitals nurses like best and other important features like Magnet status and location.

    Magnet Hospitals

    The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), in its aim to promote nursing excellence, evaluates healthcare organizations through its credentialing programs. The Magnet designation is the highest credential awarded to healthcare institutions based on their work environment, nursing excellence, innovations in nursing practice, and quality patient outcomes.

    For RNs seeking work with best-in-class medical institutions, choosing one with Magnet status is a smart move.

    Organization Name City
    Children's Hospital Colorado Aurora
    Craig Hospital Englewood
    Medical Center of the Rockies Loveland
    Parker Adventist Hospital Parker
    Penrose-St. Francis Health Services Colorado Springs
    Porter Adventist Hospital Denver
    Poudre Valley Hospital Fort Collins
    Rose Medical Center Denver
    Saint Joseph Hospital Denver
    The Medical Center of Aurora Aurora
    University of Colorado Hospital Aurora

    Hospitals Recommended By Nurses analyzed 1,411 surveys of nurses from 125 hospitals in Michigan to rank the best hospitals to work for in the state of Michigan. ranked the best hospitals in Colorado state for nurses to work for based on nurse's ratings and reviews.

    1. Children’s Hospital Colorado

    Average Rating 4.5
    Recommended 100%

    *Magnet Hospital

    “Great coworkers, good pay, flexible scheduling, management is awesome. I love working here currently.”

    “I enjoyed working there immensely and would recommend it to anyone.”

    Read Reviews

    1. University of Colorado Hospital

    Average Rating 4.5
    Recommended 100%

    *Magnet Hospital

    “Self-scheduling, great co-workers, input for policy change, involved leadership, many resources available to help.”

    “Great staff and management. The hospital is run well and schedule is done well by management.”

    Read Reviews

    3. Porter Adventist Hospital

    Average Rating 4.4
    Recommended 100%

    *Magnet Hospital

    “It is a great hospital with a community feel. Nurse to patient ratios are taken seriously and nurses are well respected.”

    “Great hospital with incredible patient care and culture for employees. Great team and support. Great leaders.”

    Read Reviews

    3. Saint Joseph Hospital

    Average Rating 4.4
    Recommended 100%

    *Magnet Hospital

    “Great teamwork with nursing staff, wonderful and friendly hospital staff, welcoming floor, and advanced safety and education training.”

    “Wonderful team culture, good staffing ratios, and awesome work environment.”

    Read Reviews

    5. Lutheran Medical Center

    Average Rating 4.3
    Recommended 94%

    “Everyone works well as a team with good morale. The staff is positive and energetic.”

    “Staff is very friendly and helpful. Nice environment and good patient ratio.”

    Read Reviews

    See the full list of Best Colorado Hospital For Nurses.

    Part Six Continuing Education Requirements 

    Colorado does not require any continuing education in order to renew your nursing license. However, if you have any special certifications, you may be required to complete continuing education in order to renew those.

    For more information on continuing education, see our Continuing Education Guide.

    Part Seven Labor Unions

    Colorado has a unique law to govern unions called the Labor Peace Act. It authorizes the state to establish standards of fair conduct in employment relations in order to protect the rights of the public, the employee, and the employer and to oversee collective bargaining units.

    Union members often enjoy higher pay, better working conditions, and more job security. However, they must also pay union dues, participate in strikes, and may have limited access to advancement opportunities (due to seniority).

    Related: Pros and Cons of Nurses Unions 


    Part Eight Nursing Jobs In Colorado

    As a skilled nurse, you are in control of your career. Check out the featured listings below or search thousands of job listings on our job board and get the pay and career path you deserve.


    Denver, CO | Travel position

    13-Week travel contract. 2 years of recent experience in an Acute Care Telemetry setting. Flexible scheduling. Matching 401(k). Full travel reimbursement.
    Apply Now


    Montrose, CO | Permanent position

    Requirements: Graduate of an accredited Registered/Professional Nursing program. Licensure, Certification, and Registration in Colorado. 
    Apply Now

    Search thousands more listings on the nation’s #1 job board for nurses. 

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