Nursing Schools and Licensing Requirements in Colorado [2022 Guide]

Updated August 25, 2022 • 6 Min Read

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The Affordable Care Act has given more Colorado residents than ever access to quality medical coverage, increasing the number of people receiving healthcare services. That, coupled with the aging population, means that the nursing profession is growing rapidly in the state and nationwide. In fact, the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence expects about 2,000 nurses to retire each year for the next 10 years, leaving a large deficit in the workforce.

As a result, there is a need for new registered and advanced practice nurses in Colorado. If a career in nursing is something you wish to pursue, or even just explore, keep reading to learn more about Colorado nursing schools and nurse licensure requirements. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Top Nursing Schools in Colorado

  1. Colorado Mountain College

    Glenwood Springs, CO

  2. University of Northern Colorado

    Greeley, CO

  3. University of Colorado Denver

    Denver, CO

  4. Colorado Christian University

    Lakewood, CO

  5. Colorado Mesa University

    Grand Junction, CO

  6. Colorado State University-Pueblo

    Pueblo, CO

  7. Metropolitan State University of Denver

    Denver, CO

  8. CollegeAmerica-Denver

    Denver, CO is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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  1. Aims Community College

    Greeley, Co

  2. Lamar Community College

    Lamar, CO

  3. Trinidad State Junior College

    Trinidad, CO

  4. Morgan Community College

    Fort Morgan, CO

  5. Colorado Northwestern Community College

    Rangely, CO

  6. Northeastern junior College

    Sterling, CO

  7. Pikes Peak Community College

    Colorado Springs, CO

  8. Pueblo Community College

    Pueblo, CO

  9. Otero Junior College

    La Junta, CO

  10. Front Range Community College

    Westminster, CO

Explore Nursing Schools in Colorado

In order to ensure that Colorado's nurses are highly skilled, the state enforces stringent training requirements, including comprehensive hands-on training in addition to classroom coursework. The application process for nursing school can be competitive, as cohort programs are generally kept small to ensure students receive the best education possible.

To address the nursing shortage, some schools are working with the state to expand enrollment, which would allow colleges to keep up with Colorado's nursing demand. For example, Metropolitan State University of Denver has been permitted to increase the number of students it can admit to its accelerated and traditional nursing programs. Other schools are expected to petition to do the same.

Use the search tool below to browse and filter nursing programs and find a school that best fits your needs and career aspirations.

Earning a Nursing License in Colorado

Nurses must hold an active license to practice and each state has its own specific requirements for registered nurses, nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives. Qualified individuals can receive a nursing license through the Colorado Board of Nursing, which is charged with enforcing the regulations that guide the state's nursing education and profession. Outlined below is a list of eligibility requirements for first-time applicants, renewal information, and how to earn certification as an advance practice nurse in Colorado.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Provide evidence for completion of an approved nursing program. For graduates of traditional programs, this includes official transcripts sent directly to the Division of Professions and Occupations Office of Licensing. For graduates of non-traditional programs, individuals must complete the Student Permit application process and send the completed Skills Checklist to the Division of Professions and Occupations. Lastly, for students educated and trained outside the US and its territories, submission of the CES credentials review “Professional Report” from the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools is required, in addition to Test of English as a Foreign Language results.
  • Register to take the NCLEX with Pearson Vue and pay the exam fee online
  • Create a Healthcare Professions Profile. Applications without a profile will be considered incomplete and a license will not be issued.
  • Proof that you are lawfully permitted to work in the US
  • Submission of a valid social security number
  • Completion of screening questions regarding criminal history or complaints filed against you
  • Nurses in compact states can hold only one compact license and it must be issued by the applicant's primary residence. If an applicant declares his/her primary residence is a non-compact state and meets all other Colorado licensure requirements, a single-state license will be issued and valid for practice only in Colorado.
  • RNs with an active license in a different state can apply for Colorado licensure by endorsement. Verification and a fee will be required.


Licenses for all Colorado registered nurses expire on September 30 of even- and odd-numbered years depending on the date of initial issuance. Individuals who received a valid license before June 2 will have a license that is set to expire that same year and, as a result, will need to renew it during the upcoming renewal period. All RN licenses issued after June 2 will be given a license with the subsequent expiration date.

Nurses in Colorado are not required to earn continuing education hours for license renewal. However, registered nurses are required to maintain a health profile through the CBN, disclosing specific information that is accessible to the public. Information includes disciplinary action, criminal convictions, malpractice, and surrender of prescriptive rights.

Getting Certified as an Advanced Practice Nurse in Colorado

A variety of advance practice and specialty licenses are available to Colorado RNs. In addition to the requirements for RN licensure, APRNs such as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, and nurse midwives must also go through a few additional steps such as:

  • Submit official transcripts as proof of completing a graduate degree or higher for the advanced practice role you plan to work in
  • Verify certification from the specialty's national board
  • Pay required fee
  • Create a Healthcare Professions Profile on Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies

For more information about advanced practice licensing and renewal in Colorado, visit the Colorado Board of Nursing website.

Colorado Nursing by the Numbers

According to the national Health Resources and Services Administration, by 2025 there will be 46,100 nurses working around the state. However, this will not be enough to address the health care needs of Colorado's population. In fact, the agency expects that there will be a 12,900 deficit in the number of nurses needed to take care of patients.

This is a trend that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to see in states around the country. On a national scale, the agency predicts that between 2014 and 2024, there will be a 16 percent increase in the number of available jobs for registered nurses. And while salaries for Colorado nurses are very similar to the national average, they do vary slightly, depending on the specific geographic location.

Top-Paying Areas for RNs in Colorado

AreaHourly Median WageAnnual Median Wage
Northcentral Colorado nonmetropolitan area$33.44$69,560
Grand Junction$31.98$66,520
Central Colorado nonmetropolitan area$30.56$63,560
Fort Collins-Loveland$30.45$63,330
Colorado Springs$29.93$62,250
West Colorado nonmetropolitan area$29.27$60,880

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Colorado vs. National Numbers


Registered NurseCertified Nurse MidwifeNurse AnesthetistNurse Practitioner$0$50,000$100,000$150,000$200,000

YearAnnual salary(25th percentile)Annual salary(median)Annual salary(75th percentile)Annual salary(25th percentile)Annual salary(median)Annual salary(75th percentile)
Registered Nurse$57,280$68,290$80,660$0$54,620$66,640$81,080
Certified Nurse Midwife$87,400$102,300$113,080$0$82,580$96,970$114,090
Nurse Anesthetist$150,800$167,560$0$0$132,380$153,780$181,860
Nurse Practitioner$83,490$97,940$116,440$0$82,720$95,350$113,470
  • Annual Salary (25th percentile)
  • Annual Salary (median)
  • Annual Salary (75th percentile)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 



Registered Nurse44,3702,687,310
Certified Nurse Midwife1205,110
Nurse Anesthetist12036,590
Nurse Practitioner2,070122,050


Registered Nurse53,2703,238,400
Certified Nurse Midwife2107,700
Nurse Anesthetist11043,900
Nurse Practitioner2,550147,300

AVG. ANNUAL OPENINGS (2012 – 2022)

Registered Nurse1,930105,260
Certified Nurse Midwife10290
Nurse Anesthetist01,560
Nurse Practitioner1005,850

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014 and Projections Central

Resources for Nurses in Colorado

Colorado Nurses Association

The Colorado Nurses Association is dedicated to supporting members of the professional community around the state. It advocates for all of the state's registered nurses and facilitates professional development in an effort to maintain excellence in education, practice and research.

Colorado Society of Advance Practice Nurses

The Colorado Society of Advanced Practice Nurses provides services for nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialists and nurse anesthetists. It promotes the role of advance practice nurses and provides resources for them to enrich their practice.

Public Health Nurses Association of Colorado

The Public Health Nurses Association of Colorado is an organization for nurses who specialize in public health in the state. It advocates for public policies to improve community health and provides education and network opportunities for public health nurses.

Colorado Student Nurses Association

Colorado nursing students can join the Colorado Student Nurses Association to receive support as they train to enter the field. It helps to better the personal and professional development of aspiring nurses by introducing them to additional leadership and educational opportunities.

Colorado Emergency Nurses Association

The Colorado Emergency Nurses Association has advocated on behalf of emergency care nurses, as well as patients who receive emergency care, since 1970. The organization provides volunteering opportunities and advocacy for emergency care nurses in the state.

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