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Colorado Nursing License Requirements

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Division of Professions and Occupations, State Board of Nursing oversees nurse licensure and practice in the state of Colorado. All nurses seeking licensure must complete an education in nursing, beginning with a training program in the case of licensed practical nurses and culminating in a master’s or post-master’s program for nurse practitioners. Use the menu below to find out more about the licensing process for nurses in Colorado.

» How to become a licensed practical nurse (requires completion of a training program)
» How to become a registered nurse (requires an associate’s or bachelor’s degree)
» How to become a nurse practitioner (requires a master’s degree)

5 Steps to Become a Licensed Practical Nurse in Colorado

1. Complete an Education Program for Licensed Practical Nurses.

All licensed practical nurses in Colorado must hold at least a certificate granted by an approved nurse education program.1 A list of approved education programs, along with historical pass rates for the National Council Licensure Examination, is available on the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Division of Professions and Occupations website.1

2. Submit the Application for License By Examination – Practical Nurse.

Applications for licensure as a practical nurse should be submitted using the Application for License By Examination – Practical Nurse form.2 The application includes an Affidavit of Eligibility form that the candidate must complete in addition to the application itself to prove that licensing requirements have been met.2 Official transcripts from the practical nursing program completed, which must be in a sealed envelope, should be included with the application to avoid delays in processing.2 Note that candidates may be required to submit additional verification documents at the discretion of the Colorado Board of Nursing.2

3. Register to Take the National Council Licensure Examination.

To become eligible for licensure as a licensed practical nurse in Colorado applicants must successfully complete the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Registration for the examination should be completed with Pearson VUE, the company that provides the test to applicants on behalf of the Colorado Board of Nursing.2 The registration for the exam is completed through the Pearson VUE NCLEX portal.3 Candidates are limited to taking the NCLEX a maximum of three times within three years of the first attempt at the NCLEX, regardless of the state in which the attempts are made.2

4. Create a Healthcare Professions Profile.

All nurses must create and maintain an updated Healthcare Professions Profile with the Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations.2 The profile should be created after the Office of Licensing – Nursing has received the initial application for licensure.2 Candidates should visit the Health Care Professions Profile portal to begin the profile creation process.4 Note that a license to practice will not be issued until the Health Care Professions Profile is completed.2

5. Apply for LPN IV Authority.

In order to perform specific procedures involving intravenous therapy and venous blood sampling, licensed practical nurses must complete an approved IV training program and apply to the Colorado Board of Nursing for LPN IV authority.5 Those applying for IV authority must already hold a licensed practical nursing license.5 A list of approved training programs and the application for IV authority can be accessed on the Colorado Board of Nursing website.5

4 Steps to Become a Registered Nurse in Colorado

1. Take a Registered Nurse Education Program.

Prospective registered nurses are required to obtain at least an associate’s degree in registered nursing.6 Obtaining a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree can also qualify prospective registered nurses to pursue licensing, and may form preparation for becoming a nurse practitioner.6 A list of approved nursing programs that meet state licensing requirements is available on the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Division of Professions and Occupations website.6

2. Submit the Application for License by Examination – Registered Nurse.

Prospective registered nurses should submit the Application for License By Examination – Registered Nurse to begin the licensure process.7 Applicants must also complete and submit the Affidavit of Eligibility certifying licensure requirements have been met along with the application form.7 Candidates should request official transcripts to be sent to the Office of Licensing – Nursing in sealed envelopes.7

3. Register for and Take the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurses.

To successfully meet the licensing requirements for registered nurses in Colorado, applicants must pass the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).7 Registration for the exam is completed through the website of the third party company that administers the test on behalf of state boards, Pearson VUE.3 Permission to take the exam may be granted up to three times in three years following the first attempt should a candidate not be successful in passing the exam during the initial attempt(s).7

4. Submit a Healthcare Professions Profile.

Colorado requires all licensed nurses to complete an online Healthcare Professions Profile.7 The initial profile should be submitted after the Office of Licensing – Nursing has received the initial application.7 A completed profile is required prior to the issuance of licensure.7 The profile can be submitted online by visiting the Health Care Professions Profile portal.4

6 Steps to Become a Nurse Practitioner in Colorado

1. Obtain Licensure as a Registered Nurse.

Candidates for licensure as nurse practitioners must first obtain an active and unencumbered registered nursing license in the state of Colorado or a compact state.8 This requires that nurses complete the education and certification process for registered nurses, including passage of the NCLEX-RN exam.8 Prospective nurse practitioners must have actively practiced nursing in at least two of the five years preceding an application for licensure as a nurse practitioner.8

2. Complete a Nurse Practitioner Education Program.

Nurse practitioners in Colorado must obtain at least a master’s level education in advanced practice nursing.9 This education should include one or more special population focus areas with which the prospective nurse practitioner will work.9 The program completed should be nationally accredited as a master’s or post-master’s program.9

3. Obtain Certification from a National Certifying Body.

As part of the process for licensure as a nurse practitioner in Colorado, candidates must obtain certification from a national certifying body that meets the standards of the Colorado Board of Nursing.9 The certification should be obtained for each population focus area the prospective nurse practitioner intends to declare.9

4. Submit the Application for Advanced Practice Registry Nurse Practitioner.

Prospective nurse practitioners should complete the Application for Advanced Practice Registry Nurse Practitioner and submit this form to the Office of Licensing – Advanced Practice Nurses.8 Note that each population focus within which the prospective nurse practitioner is qualified and intends to work requires a separate set of supporting documentation.9 However, multiple population foci may be declared on the same application form.8 The supporting documentation required includes official transcripts for graduate or post-graduate coursework as well as the Affidavit(s) of Eligibility.8 Transcripts should be included with the initial application unless otherwise requested.8

Prospective nurse practitioners must also have national certification in the appropriate role(s) and population focus/foci verified by requesting that the national certifying body send verification to the State Board of Nursing.8

5. Submit a Healthcare Professions Profile.

All prospective Colorado nurses must complete an online Healthcare Professions Profile before licensure will be issued.8 The profile may be created after the Office of Licensing – Nursing has received the initial application for nurse practitioner licensure.8 The profile can be submitted online by visiting the Health Care Professions Profile portal.4

6. Apply for Prescriptive Authority, If Desired.

Nurse practitioners in Colorado are not required to maintain prescriptive authority, but if prescriptive authority is desired candidates must complete the Application for Prescriptive Authority – Advanced Practice Nurse.10 Candidates must first complete a precepted prescribing experience of at least 1,800 hours verified by at least one physician completed within the five years preceding the application, which allows provisional prescriptive authority.10 Nurse practitioners who complete 3,600 hours of prescribing experience may be granted full prescriptive authority.10 Note that dispensation of controlled substances also requires a control number issued by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency.10

Colorado Nursing Associations

There are multiple nursing associations in Colorado that current or future nurses may join for further education, professional networking, and continuing professional opportunities.

Colorado Nursing Salary

OccupationNumber EmployedAverage Annual Salary
Nursing Assistants19,230$30,150
Licensed Practical Nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses5,010$48,690
Registered Nurses47,590$70,550
Nurse Practitioners2,620$107,160

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2016.12,13,14,15

References:
1. Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations: Practical Nursing Education
2. Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations Office of Licensing – Nursing: Application for License by Examination – Practical Nurse
3. Pearson VUE NCLEX Testing
4. Colorado Board of Nursing: LPN IV Authority
5. Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies Division of Professions and Occupations: Healthcare Professions Profiling Program
6. Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations State Board of Nursing – LPN IV Authority: Application for LPN IV Authority
7. Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations: Professional Nursing Education
8. Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations, Office of Licensing – Nursing: Application for License By Examination – Registered Nurse
9. Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations, State Board of Nursing – Advanced Practice Nursing: Application for Advanced Practice Registry Nurse Practitioner
10. Department of Regulatory Agencies Division of Registrations Chapter XIV: Rules and Regulations to Register Professional Nurses Qualified to Engage in Advanced Practice Nursing
11. Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations Office of Licensing – Advanced Practice Nursing: Application for Prescriptive Authority – Advanced Practice Nurse
12. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Nursing Assistants: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes311014.htm
13. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm
14. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Registered Nurses: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm
15. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment and Wages, Nurse Practitioners: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm