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RN Pay in Colorado: Average Wages & Cost of Living Data

Colorado has a variety of job opportunities for registered nurses (RNs). The growth projection for RN jobs in Colorado is expected to be around 29 percent from 2020 to 2030, with 4,430 job openings yearly. 

This resource provides publicly available information about average RN salaries in Colorado. While Nursa currently offers independent contractor RNs in Colorado the opportunity to access per diem jobs that pay on an hourly basis rather than access to salaried or wage-based employment opportunities, this information may be a helpful frame of reference for you as you assess the market landscape both in regard to per diem jobs and employment opportunities.

Nurse couple enjoy hiking
RNs can enjoy hiking in the Colorado Mountains on their days off work.

What's the Average RN Pay in the State of Colorado?

The RN wages in Colorado range typically from $66,130 to $107,260. Registered nurses in Colorado also work alongside licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and certified nursing assistants (CNAs).

The average nurse income in Colorado is $86,590 per year. This average nurse wage is 2.8 percent lower than the national average of $89.010. However, compared with its neighboring state, Utah, Colorado has an average RN mean wage that is 13 percent higher. Furthermore, the average RN mean wage in Wyoming is 7 percent lower than in Colorado, and Kansas also has an average wage of 20 percent lower than in Colorado. 

The RN mean income in the state of Colorado varies according to your specialization, experience, and other factors that will be mentioned in this article. The following list shows the complete pay ranges in Colorado: 

  • 10th percentile: $66,130
  • 25th percentile: $76,480
  • 50th percentile: $82,430
  • 75th percentile: $98,530
  • 90th percentile: $107,260

These percentiles show the RNs earning less than the designated value. For example, 10 percent earn less than $66,130, and 90 percent earn more.

How Much Do Nurses Make in Colorado?

A registered nurse's salary in Colorado varies, and you can earn more depending on location, industry, years of experience, and specialization, among other factors. These factors directly affect the amount you can make as an RN.

How Much Do RNs Make per Hour in Colorado?

In the following chart, you will find how much RNs make throughout Colorado on average by year and hour to have the entire picture of the salaries in the different areas of Colorado:

Area Mean Annual Wage Mean Hourly Wage
Boulder, CO $92,710 $44.57
Colorado Springs, CO $82,750 $39.78
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO $87,790 $42.21
Fort Collins, CO $84,960 $40.85
Grand Junction, CO $83,960 $40.36
Greeley, CO $85,570 $41.41
Pueblo, CO $84,320 $40.54
Eastern and Southern Colorado non-metropolitan area $78,810 $37.89
Southwest Colorado non-metropolitan area $81,540 $39.20
Northwest Colorado non-metropolitan area $89,560 $43.06

Source: Chart based on information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Most recent information as of September 2023)

Which Are the Highest-Paying Cities for RNs in Colorado?

Are you looking for jobs for registered nurses in Colorado? As shown in the previous chart, Boulder is the highest-paying city in the state, with a mean wage of $92,710, followed by Denver, Aurora, and Lakewood, with a mean wage of $87,790. Colorado Springs comes next with an average payment of $82,750.

RN Employment in Colorado by Area

Knowing how much you can earn in Colorado may help you choose the best option when considering independent contractor work or applying for salaried or wage-based employment. However, it's also important to know which areas employ more RNs in the state and, therefore, offer more job opportunities. If you are looking for RN jobs in Colorado Springs or Denver, you may want to know if there are many job opportunities there. 

The following chart shows the employment and location quotient of RNs by area in Colorado so you can know where there is a greater number and higher concentration of RNs:

Area Employment Location Quotient
Boulder, CO 3,070 0.77
Colorado Springs, CO 6,450 1.02
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, CO 28,900 0.90
Fort Collins, CO 3,960 1.13
Grand Junction, CO 1,850 1.39
Greeley, CO 1,130 0.51
Pueblo, CO 1,830 1.41
Eastern and Southern Colorado non-metropolitan area 1,420 1.01
Southwest Colorado non-metropolitan area 1,840 0.87
Northwest Colorado non-metropolitan area 1,780 0.69

Source: Chart based on information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Most recent information as of September 2023)

The location quotient (LQ) shows the concentration of an industry in an area compared to the national average. An LQ higher than one means a higher concentration of RNs in that area than the national average. Therefore, an LQ below one means the opposite.

What Are the Highest-Paying Nursing Specialties in Colorado?

In general, the highest-paying nursing specialties are nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners. These specialties have a growth projection of 38 percent, much higher than the average growth for all occupations, which is 3 percent. The following chart shows the mean wage for these specialties in Colorado:

Profession Mean Annual Wage Mean Hourly Wage
Nurse midwife $113,950 $54.79
Nurse practitioner $116,440 $55.98
Nurse anesthetist $185,860 $89.36

Source: Chart based on information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Most recent information as of September 2023)

Nurse holding bank card in her hand
RNs make good money working in Colorado.

How Much Do You Need to Cover Your Basic Expenses?

The cost of living depends on many factors, including the number of working adults and dependents in a household. If you are single, you need to make at least $19.22 per hour to cover basic expenses. If you have a partner and you both work, you will each need to earn $14.90 per hour; if only one of you works, you will need to make $29.80 per hour. These cost of living considerations don't include the added cost of having children. 

How to Become an RN in Colorado

To become a registered nurse in Colorado, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) before applying for a license. It is interesting to know that Colorado is part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which means that if you are an RN in a state that is part of the NLC, you can work in Colorado as an RN (with certain exceptions). Nevertheless, if you change your primary state of residence, you need to apply for a license in your new state of residence.

To qualify to take the NCLEX-RN, you must first complete an RN nursing program. If you are in Colorado and want to get your RN license, you can look up the following universities with RN programs in Colorado:

  • Capella University
  • Walden University
  • Regent University
  • Marymount University

How Can I Find Per Diem RN Independent Contractor Jobs?

If you are looking for an alternative to employment, the best way to find per diem registered nursing jobs in Colorado is through Nursa. This type of independent contractor work may allow you to earn more money and empowers you to have flexibility in your schedule, including by choosing when, where, and how you work with no long-term commitments. 

A per diem job or gig is a fixed-time contract, so when the gig ends, you can look for another per diem job or take a break. The following list gives you direct access to per diem jobs for registered nurses in different cities in Colorado:

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