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With 9,600 miles of fishing streams and 2,850 lakes, beautiful scenery stands alongside several nationally ranked hospitals and healthcare centers in Colorado. The state's cost of living is slightly higher than average, primarily driven by the cost of housing. Healthcare, groceries, and utilities all fall within the average costs across the U.S.
The average registered nurse salary in Colorado is also slightly higher than the average across the United States. Whether you are a Colorado resident thinking about a nursing career or considering moving to the Rocky Mountain state, you'll find a higher-than-average estimated employment growth and top-rated hospitals in the state.
In this guide, you'll find a discussion of the average salaries for RNs and other healthcare practitioners. You'll also discover the highest-paying cities and the average annual RN salary ranges in Colorado.
- Average Colorado RN Salary: $80,670 (Ranks 16th among all states)
- Hourly Colorado RN Salary: $38.78
- Projected Colorado RN Employment Growth (2018-2028): 29.5%
Source: BLS, Projections Central
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Average RN Salaries in Colorado
RN salaries in Colorado rank 16th in the country. The state's average annual salary is $80,670, amounting to an hourly wage of $38.78. Nurses earn a range of salaries, from $60,550 in the lowest 10th percentile to $100,870 in the highest 90th percentile.
Several factors contribute to the state's broad salary range for registered nurses, including large expanses of rural communities where the cost of living is significantly lower than in the larger cities. Higher salary positions are found more frequently in the highest-paying cities, where the cost of living is also higher.
The national median salary for RNs is $77,600, and projections indicate an RN employment growth rate of 29.5% in the state — far outpacing the national projected job growth rate of 9% for the profession.
|Percentile||Average Annual RN Salary||Average Hourly RN Salary|
Colorado RN Salary, Adjusted for Cost of Living
Salary fluctuations often align with an area's cost-of-living standards. While the state of Colorado has a higher cost of living index, so does each urban area in the state. The cost of living factor estimated for the state is an average for urban and rural areas.
The cost of living index compares expenses an average person could expect to pay for major budget items. This includes housing, food, transportation, entertainment, childcare, and healthcare. Organizations adjust the salary range on the cost of living index for the local area.
The cost of living for Colorado is 102.9, with 100 as the national average cost-of-living standard. Life in Colorado costs approximately 2.9% more than the country on the whole. Colorado ranks as the 12th-highest state to purchase goods and services.
After adjusting an RN's salary for cost of living, the average annual salary is $78,331, placing RN salaries in Colorado in 24th place nationally.
- Average RN Salary Adjusted for Cost of Living: $78,331 (Ranks 24th among all states)
- Cost of Living Index (RPP): 102.9 (2.9% higher than the U.S. average)
Highest-Paying Cities for RNs in Colorado
The table below lists the top five highest-paying metropolitan areas in Colorado. Boulder tops the list, with RNs earning an average annual salary of $118,180. Boulder is nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, 30 minutes northwest of Denver. The city is just a few hours from some of Colorado's famous ski resorts.
The median age in Boulder is 29 years in a population of 103,166. The University of Colorado is located in the city, which enjoys an average of 300 days of sunshine each year. There are more than 45,000 acres of open space and 150 miles of hiking trails.
There are 14 hospitals with Magnet status in Colorado, nine of which are found in one of the top five highest-paying cities listed below. The Magnet designation is a recognition program awarded to hospitals that value nursing talent.
|City||Average RN Salary|
|Denver — Aurora — Lakewood, CO||$115,560|
|Fort Collins, CO||$114,380|
|Colorado Springs, CO||$112,680|
|Grand Junction, CO||$110,250|
Average Salaries for Other Nursing Roles in Colorado
Healthcare requires the talents and services of several different nursing roles, including nursing assistants, licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurse anesthetists.
Nursing assistants earn an average annual salary of $35,210, which is higher than the country's median salary for the profession. RNs interested in advancing their careers and increasing their salaries can consider pursuing master of science in nursing (MSN) degrees.
After graduating, they can practice as nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, and nurse anesthetists to earn six-figure salaries. Nurse practitioners in Colorado received employment growth rate projections of 44.7% from 2018-2028, indicating strong employment prospects for the future.
RNs who want to advance their education and career potential may explore several online nursing programs in Colorado. They offer RNs the opportunity to complete MSN programs and practice as advanced practice registered nurses.
- Nursing Assistants: $35,210
- LPN/LVNs: $55,360
- Nurse Midwives: $122,620
- Nurse Practitioners: $112,580
- Nurse Anesthetists: $173,820
Methodology and Sources
Registered nursing salary data by state is collected from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program, released on March 31, 2022. Data reflects RN salaries as of May 2021. The highest-paying cities and states for RNs are ranked by average annual salary.
Cost-of-living data is collected from the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis real personal income for states and metropolitan areas, released on December 14, 2021. RN salary adjusted for cost of living is calculated by multiplying each state's RN salary by its regional price parity (RPP). RPP measures differences in the cost of goods and services in a region compared to national prices.
Projected employment growth data by state is collected from Projections Central.
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