How to Become a Nurse in Colorado

Two Methods:Licensed Practical NurseRegistered Nurse

The Colorado Board of Nursing oversees licensing of all nurses in the state, ensuring the highest standards in patient care. Nurses in Colorado must meet educational and clinical requirements before they earn a license to practice. The demand for qualified nurses is high in Colorado. People who are determined to meet the challenging standards of nursing often are rewarded with job security, competitive pay, and a deep sense of job satisfaction. If you want to learn how to become a nurse in Colorado, follow these guidelines.


  1. Image titled Become a Nurse in Colorado Step 1
    Decide what type of nurse you want to be. There are several different levels of nursing, and each depends largely on the amount of education you're willing to pursue. Make sure that the nursing program you're enrolled in is approved by the Colorado Board of Nursing.
  2. Image titled Become a Nurse in Colorado Step 2
    Consider becoming a nursing aide as a way to get started in the industry. All nursing assistants in Colorado must be certified. Accredited programs take 6 to 12 weeks to complete. In Colorado, most nursing aides achieve certification by passing a board exam. Aides who are registered in another state may be certified to work in Colorado automatically by the process of endorsement. Nursing assistants work under the direct supervision of a registered nurse, performing important duties that include taking vital signs, drawing blood, and other basic nursing functions. Nursing assistants work in all types of health-care facilities. Many advance their careers by pursuing additional education and training.

Method 1
Licensed Practical Nurse

  1. Image titled Become a Nurse in Colorado Step 3
    Pursue a position as a licensed practical nurse, or LPN. Licensed practical nurses provide basic, direct care for patients under the supervision of a registered nurse or physician. LPNs are generalists but can work in specialized health-care facilities. LPN programs are offered at accredited junior and community colleges and some vocational schools. They usually take 2 years to complete and blend classroom instruction with clinical practice. LPNs perform all basic nursing duties, including:
    • Taking vital signs.
    • Assisting physicians with medical procedures.
    • Collecting fluid samples from patients.
    • Helping patients with personal hygiene.
    • Performing basic laboratory tests.
    • Keeping clerical records.
    • Cleaning and monitoring medical equipment.

Method 2
Registered Nurse

  1. Image titled Become a Nurse in Colorado Step 4
    Work toward becoming a registered nurse, or RN. Registered nurses perform all nursing functions while working closely with physicians. Many RNs supervise nursing aides and LPNs. Registered nurses must have a 4-year, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited college or university. During the course of their studies, Colorado RN candidates can select a specialization. RNs sometimes pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, which gives them more opportunity for advancement, including jobs in management, as nurse practitioners and specialized nursing. An MSN also is required to teach nursing.
  2. Image titled Become a Nurse in Colorado Step 5
    Determine what field of nursing you want to specialize in. Colorado RNs often select a specialization and pursue it during the clinical phase of their training. Your focus can be based on your interest in a particular field of medicine, job availability, pay rate or advancement potential. Some of the leading nursing fields in Colorado are:
    • Obstetrics: Many nurses find caring for expectant mothers to be a rewarding career.
    • Emergency room: This is a stressful and challenging specialty that requires decisiveness and an ability to withstand emotional pressure. Emergency-room nurses can work any time of the day.
    • Surgical: RNs who specialize in this area of nursing assist surgeons during operations and must be detail-oriented.
    • Public health: Nurses working at public-health clinics help many patients and must be able to diagnose and treat a wide range of illnesses.
    • Intensive care: Nurses who specialize in ICU closely monitor patients' vital signs and medications, and sometimes must perform emergency procedures. ICU nurses are needed 24 hours a day.
    • Gerontology: Caring for older patients, often in nursing homes. This field will require study of geriatric diseases like Alzheimer's. It also may require an emphasis on emotional and psychological facets of care.
  3. Image titled Become a Nurse in Colorado Step 6
    Take your state nursing board licensing exam. After completing your clinical and classroom work, you will be required to pass the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, or NCLEX, exam to become a licensed nurse. All nurses must be licensed before they can practice in Colorado. The NCLEX-RN exam is for aspiring registered nurses. The NCLEX-PN is for practical nurses in Colorado. An applicant must:
    • Be a graduate of an accredited LPN or RN program.
    • Be a Colorado resident.
    • Pay all application fees.
    • Arrange to take the exam by registering with the Colorado Board of Nursing via standard mail, telephone or online.
    • Complete the test, which is intensive and can take 5 to 6 hours to finish.


  • Nurses who hold an active license in another state may qualify for a Colorado nursing license through endorsement, allowing them to bypass the board exam and begin seeing patients upon approval.
  • Nurses in Colorado are not required to complete continuing-education requirements to keep their licenses active.
  • Consider whether you possess the personal qualities needed to be a nurse. Nurses must be compassionate, organized and be able to make decisions independently. Emotional stability is an important quality in nursing, as working with sick and injured people can be stressful.
  • Licensed nurses can earn recognition for achievement in a specific area of nursing by passing a credentialing exam. The American Nurses Association's credentialing center certifies specialty nurses with the designation RN-BC (registered nurse-board certified).
  • Consult the Colorado Board of Nursing and Colorado Nurses Association for details on education and licensure requirements in the state.

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Categories: Health Care