PRN Nursing Jobs in Colorado: Ultimate Guide [2024]

Are you looking for high-paying CNA, LPN, or RN jobs in Colorado? Apply for per diem nursing jobs from the palm of your hand with our PRN nurse staffing mobile app.

Are you a nurse or nursing assistant moving to or already residing in the vibrant state of Colorado? This guide is tailor-made for registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), patient care techs (PCTs), and certified nursing assistants (CNAs). It offers a wealth of essential information about the lifestyle, PRN nursing jobs, cost of living, salaries, and many other things you need to know about working in Colorado. And if you're considering looking for RN, LPN, PCT, or CNA jobs in Colorado, keep reading to discover the path to becoming a nurse in the Centennial State and identifying top-notch nursing programs. 

Table of Contents

How Much Do Nurses in Colorado Make?

In Colorado, nursing professionals are well-compensated for their dedication and expertise. The state's minimum hourly wage stands at $13.65, while the living wage required to cover the basic living expenses of a single person is $19.22 an hour at a full-time job. Furthermore, living costs in Colorado vary significantly based on the number of working adults and dependents in each household.  

However, registered nurses in Colorado enjoy much higher earnings, with an average hourly rate of $38.78. This competitive salary recognizes the critical role RNs play in patient care and makes Colorado an attractive destination for nursing professionals at all levels of experience.

Here's a breakdown of the average annual salaries for different nursing roles in Colorado:

It's worth highlighting that multiple factors can impact a nurse's salary in Colorado. In the following table, you can find the average pay for nurses and nursing assistants in various cities across the state:

Cities Average CNA Salary Average LPN Salary Average RN Salary
Grand Junction $35,630 $55,470 $83,960
Pueblo $36,370 $58,550 $84,320
Colorado Springs $38,080 $57,290 $82,750
Greeley $36,600 $60,440 $85,570
Fort Collins $38,060 $59,790 $84,960
Denver, Aurora, Lakewood $40,250 $63,020 $87,790
Boulder $41,020 $62,080 $92,710
Craig, Steamboat Springs, Meeker, Rangely, Hayden $39,170 $56,940 $89,560
Pagosa Springs, Bayfield, Ignacio, Norwood, Dove Creek $36,200 $53,510 $81,540
Lamar, La Junta, Trinidad, Rocky Ford $35,740 $55,310 $78,810

Table created based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Boulder, Denver, Aurora, Lakewood, Greeley, and Craig stand out as some of Colorado's highest-paying cities for nursing professionals. These cities not only offer financial rewards but also diverse opportunities for nurses to excel in their careers while contributing to the well-being of their communities. 

Click here for a detailed living-in-Colorado cost calculator for each county and metropolitan statistical area.

Cheapest Cities in Colorado

Similar to the variation in CNA, LPN, and RN salaries across different locations, living wages also differ significantly. For instance, a single adult in Boulder must earn roughly $9,000 more annually than someone in Grand Junction to cover basic living expenses. Here is how much you must make per hour to live in Colorado by location, starting with the cheapest cities:

City Wage per hour
Grand Junction $16.04
Pueblo $16.77
Colorado Springs $17.48
Greeley $17.58
Fort Collins $18.92
Denver, Aurora, Lakewood $20.01
Boulder $20.36

Source: Table created with data from the MIT living wage calculator

How Many Nursing Professionals Are in Colorado?

Colorado is home to a thriving community of nursing professionals who play a crucial role in delivering quality work in healthcare centers in Colorado. The latest available data as of September 2023 reveals the following numbers:

  • RN Jobs in Colorado: 52,390 
  • CNA Jobs in Colorado: 20,710 
  • LPN Jobs in Colorado: 4,840

With a growing population and a robust healthcare infrastructure, the demand for skilled nursing professionals in the state continues to be significant, offering ample opportunities for nurses to make a meaningful impact on patient care and their careers.

What are the Best Nursing Programs in Colorado

Are you looking for the best nursing programs in Colorado? The Colorado Board of Nursing plays a pivotal role in the certification and regulation of nurses in the state. It uses the National Council Licensure Examination to determine the readiness of aspiring nurses to enter the field.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs tend to have higher NCLEX-RN pass rates than Associate Degree in Nursing programs since BSN graduates have studied nursing approximately two years longer than ADN program graduates. 

The following top BSN programs in Colorado all had higher-than-average first-time NCLEX pass rates in 2022 (including only programs with more than ten candidates).

BSN programs in Colorado NCLEX-RN pass rates
University of Colorado (CON) (Accelerated) 97.01%
Metropolitan State University 96.00%
Helen and Arther E. Johnson Beth - EI CON (University of Colorado at Colorado Springs) (Accelerated) 94.74%
Colorado State University - Pueblo (Accelerated) 94.59%
Regis University (Accelerated) 93.71%
Metropolitan State University of Denver (ANO) 93.02%
Adams State University 92.88%
Colorado Mesa University (Traditional) 88.76%
Colorado Christian University 86.96%
University of Colorado (Traditional) 86.67%
Adventist University of Health Sciences - Denver 86.67%
Denver College of Nursing 86.28%
Colorado State University - Pueblo 86.25%
University of Northern Colorado 85.45%

Source: Colorado Board of Nursing: NCLEX-RN Pass Rates - Baccalaureate 

While this is a list of some of the best BSN schools and programs for RNs in Colorado, the state also offers a variety of quality ADN and LPN programs.

Some of the Best Hospitals and Clinics in Colorado

Ranking hospitals and clinics is a complex task, and the "best" hospital can vary depending on individual needs and preferences. However, we can provide a list of well-regarded hospitals and clinics in Colorado and some criteria that may contribute to their recognition. 

Whether you are looking for Emergency Room (ER), hospital PCT, or Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) jobs for nurses, we will delve into hospitals and clinics in CO alike. Here are some of Colorado's top healthcare systems and facilities in no particular order.

  1. UCHealth: Headquartered in Aurora, Colorado, UCHealth is a non-profit healthcare system encompassing a network of 12 hospitals and healthcare facilities across the state. 
  2. Children's Hospital Colorado: A teaching hospital known for pediatric care, this hospital provides comprehensive services for children, including specialty care and research.
  3. Denver Health Medical Center: It serves as Denver's safety-net hospital, providing care to a diverse population and offering a wide range of medical services.
  4. Porter Adventist Hospital: Renowned for its orthopedic and spine care, it offers a range of medical services focusing on patient-centered care.
  5. Penrose-St. Francis Health Services: This center is renowned for its expertise in cancer treatment, cardiac services, emergency trauma care, and physical rehabilitation.
  6. Boulder Community Health: The community owns and operates this non-profit health system. Its mission is to deliver top-tier healthcare services to residents and businesses in Boulder and its environs. Boulder Community Health offers various medical services, including orthopedics, neurology, and primary care.
  7. HCA Healthcare: This for-profit healthcare facility operator oversees eight medical centers in Colorado. Several of these facilities are renowned for their excellence in cardiac care and specialized units dedicated to high-risk obstetrics and neonatal intensive care (NICU).
  8. SCL Health: A faith-based healthcare system rooted in Colorado, SCL Health comprises 11 hospitals along with physician practices, urgent care facilities, and home health services. Notably, some hospitals within this network have achieved high-performance ratings in various medical areas. These include adult pulmonology and lung surgery, as well as the treatment of heart and kidney failure, aortic valve and heart bypass procedures, lung and colon cancer surgeries, maternity care, stroke management, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), and hip and knee replacements.
  9. Sky Ridge Medical Center: This center is renowned for its expertise in a range of medical interventions, including spine surgery, arthritis management, hip replacement, knee surgery, and hip preservation procedures.
  10. Western Healthcare Alliance: This coalition comprises 31 rural hospitals and healthcare partners. Together, they foster local and sustainable healthcare solutions through collaborative efforts. The alliance offers a comprehensive range of programs and services designed to bolster and ensure the resilience of healthcare providers across all rural communities.

How to Apply for Insurance in Colorado? 

Navigating the world of health insurance can be critical in securing your well-being as a per diem or self-employed remote registered nurse in Colorado. Here are some options for you: 

  • Individual Health Insurance: For per diem nursing jobs or remote RN jobs in Colorado, consider purchasing an individual health insurance plan through Colorado's health insurance marketplace: Connect for Health Colorado. Open enrollment periods typically occur annually, but certain life events may trigger special enrollment opportunities.
  • Medicaid and CHIP: Low-income individuals and families may be eligible for Medicaid or the Colorado Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Visit the Colorado PEAK website to check your eligibility and apply for these programs.
  • Telehealth Services: Explore telehealth options available under your insurance plan. As a remote RN, telehealth services can be particularly convenient for accessing healthcare from the comfort of your home or while on assignment.

As a per diem or remote RN, your work situation may change. Ensure that you maintain adequate health insurance coverage, even during transition periods or fluctuations in your employment.

How to Become a Nurse in Colorado?

In the dynamic healthcare field, you might wonder how to get a Colorado nursing license; various roles contribute to patient care, each with its scope of practice and responsibilities. There are critical differences between RNs, LPNs, CNAs, and PCTs that you should consider while choosing the most adequate license for you. 

RNs typically hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN); they can assess patients, develop care plans, administer medications, and provide advanced care. RNs must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and obtain state licensure.

LPNs complete a practical nursing program, typically a diploma or certificate program, which is shorter in duration than RN programs; their duties may include monitoring vital signs, administering medications, and assisting with patient care. Usually, they work under the supervision of RNs or physicians. They must pass the NCLEX for practical nurses (NCLEX-PN) to obtain state licensure.

CNAs complete a state-approved training program, which can vary in length but is generally shorter than LPN or RN programs. The work of CNAs focuses on direct patient care tasks, such as bathing, dressing, and transferring patients. While CNAs are not required to take an NCLEX exam, they must pass a state competency exam and meet ongoing training requirements to maintain certification.

PCTs undergo training programs that cover a wide range of clinical skills, including phlebotomy, electrocardiography (ECG), and patient care techniques. PCTs assist healthcare teams by performing tasks such as drawing blood, monitoring patients' vital signs, and ensuring patient comfort. While certification is not always mandatory, many PCTs choose to become certified in specific areas, such as phlebotomy or ECG.

Once you know the role you want to fill in the healthcare industry, you can look up different programs or schools to obtain your Colorado Nursing License. Read more to learn about some of the best programs in the state. 

Colorado's Diverse Population and Climate

Colorado boasts a diverse population that mirrors the state's geographical variety. With a population of over 5.8 million, Denver, the capital, and its metropolitan area are the most populous regions. However, Colorado's appeal extends far beyond the bustling urban centers. The state's distinct climate zones add to its allure. Colorado's climate varies widely from the arid plains of cities like Pueblo, where sunshine prevails over 300 days a year, to the alpine environments of Aspen and Leadville, where snowy winters create a wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts. The Front Range, encompassing cities like Colorado Springs and Boulder, enjoys a moderate climate with four distinct seasons, making it a sought-after destination for those who appreciate the changing landscapes that each season brings. Whether you prefer the vibrant urban lifestyle or the serene beauty of the Rockies, the diverse population and climate of the state offer something for everyone seeking nurse jobs in Colorado.

Virtual Tour of Colorado's Geography

Colorado's geographical diversity is a hallmark of the state's appeal. Let's embark on a virtual tour, making stops in ten cities, each offering a unique glimpse into Colorado's varied landscapes and weather conditions:

  1. The Eastern Plains: Our journey begins in Akron, located on the Eastern Plains. This region boasts vast open spaces, agricultural landscapes, and a prairie climate.
  2. High Desert Beauty: Heading south, we arrive in Alamosa, situated in the high desert of the San Luis Valley. Explore the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, a striking contrast to the plains.
  3. Rocky Mountain Resort: Avon is a gateway to the Rocky Mountains, with ample skiing and outdoor recreation opportunities.
  4. Alpine Wonderland: Breckenridge is a picturesque mountain town known for its skiing and outdoor adventures. 
  5. Prairie Charm: Brighton offers a mix of urban and rural living on the plains. The city experiences a prairie climate.
  6. Scenic Beauty: Castle Rock is nestled among scenic red rock formations. 
  7. Southwest Colorado Gem: Heading southwest, we arrive in Durango, known for its historic charm and outdoor activities. 
  8. Archaeological Wonders: Further southwest, we reach Cortez, near archaeological treasures like Mesa Verde National Park. 
  9. Gateway to the Rockies: Our tour ascends to Eagle, a gateway to the Rocky Mountains. Eagle boasts a mountain climate with snowy winters, making it a haven for winter sports enthusiasts.
  10. Southern Adventure: Our final stop takes us to Trinidad, which features diverse landscapes and a climate influenced by both the mountains and the plains.

Fun Facts about Colorado

Colorado isn't just a land of majestic mountains and healthcare opportunities; it's also a state steeped in fascinating history and captivating quirks. Here are some fun facts that make Colorado an even more intriguing place for nurses:

  • The Mile-High City: Denver, the state capital, earns its nickname "The Mile-High City" due to its elevation of exactly one mile (5,280 feet) above sea level. 
  • The Garden of the Gods: Colorado Springs is home to the Garden of the Gods, a surreal red rock formation that attracts visitors and outdoor enthusiasts worldwide. It's a prime spot for hiking, rock climbing, and simply basking in the otherworldly beauty of the landscape.
  • Notable for More Than Skiing: Aspen is renowned as a world-class skiing destination; it's also famous for hosting the annual Aspen Ideas Festival, where influential thinkers, leaders, and innovators gather to discuss pressing global issues.

Entertainment and Social Activities across Colorado

Colorado is a treasure trove of recreational and social activities catering to various interests and preferences. In Lakewood, you can explore the scenic beauty of Bear Creek Lake Park or engage in water sports at Sloan's Lake. Greeley, known for its vibrant arts scene, hosts the Greeley Stampede, a rodeo and festival that captures the spirit of the Old West. The "Steel City," Pueblo, offers opportunities to savor delicious green chile cuisine and enjoy outdoor concerts at the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo (HARP).

Grand Junction's proximity to the stunning Colorado National Monument and the nearby wine country provides endless exploration possibilities for those seeking outdoor adventures. Aurora, a diverse and growing city, features shopping, dining, and entertainment at Southlands Mall and the Stanley Marketplace.

Colorado Springs, nestled at the base of Pikes Peak, is an outdoor enthusiast's paradise, with hiking, rock climbing, and the enchanting Garden of the Gods. Arvada, with its charming Olde Town, is a hub for craft breweries and art galleries.

Often hailed as a beer lover's haven, Fort Collins boasts numerous craft breweries, while Westminster offers the Butterfly Pavilion and Westminster Promenade for family-friendly entertainment. Parker hosts the annual Parker Days festival, showcasing live music and carnival rides.

Boulder, a mecca for outdoor and cultural activities, beckons with its picturesque Flatirons, Pearl Street Mall, and a thriving arts and music scene. Littleton's Historic Downtown is a delightful place to stroll, shop, and dine by the charming Platte River.

Wheat Ridge, known for its agricultural heritage, features the Colorado Plus Brew Pub, serving local craft beers and farm-to-table dishes. Whether you're into arts, outdoor adventures, festivals, or culinary experiences, Colorado's diverse cities offer a rich tapestry of social activities to enjoy in your downtime as a nurse in the Centennial State.

Colorado: Your Ideal Destination 

As we conclude this journey through the enticing world of nursing in Colorado, it's clear that the Centennial State offers a tapestry of opportunities and experiences for nurses and nursing assistants. Whether you're a seasoned nurse looking for a change of scenery or an aspiring professional seeking a state that nurtures professional growth, working in Colorado is a prime choice.

Make your mark as a nurse in Colorado State and discover the extraordinary journey that awaits you by finding your first shift on Nursa

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