For years, a healthcare crisis has been brewing in Colorado and across the U.S. No, not COVID-19. This healthcare crisis was the result of an aging population and lack of adequate staffing to provide quality care. In fact, the Colorado nursing crisis is projected to be one of the worst in the nation, with demand exceeding nursing staff supply by about triple the national average.
In this landscape, it’s reasonable to wonder how attractive the state is for nursing graduates. Especially when it comes to advanced nursing degrees, such as the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), states are looking to improve their ability to educate and attract people with this degree, who have completed the educational steps necessary to become licensed to perform many of the same functions as physicians.
Average Doctor of Nursing Practice DNP Salaries in Colorado
So, we took a look at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data covering a total of six jobs that are commonly held by those with DNP degrees. Our list consisted of nurse practitioner, registered nurse, nurse anesthetist, nurse administrator, nurse midwife and postsecondary nursing instructor, and we analyzed the states and nearly 400 cities when it comes to average salaries and employment rates.
Four of the six DNP jobs we studied boast average wages upwards of $100,000. In every state, Colorado included, the highest-paid DNP professionals are nurse anesthetists, and these individuals can expect to earn an average of just over $175,000 in Colorado. Postsecondary nursing instructors are on the other end of the spectrum in the state, though their average wage is still considerably higher than that of the average Colorado worker, who earns about $58,000 per year. For the most part, Colorado’s salary averages are in line with the overall U.S. average, though the state is slightly under in some cases.
How Much Does a DNP Make in Colorado?
The average salary ranges from $75,530 to $175,100 in Colorado.
Average annual Colorado salary
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||$75,530.00|
In Colorado, as well as every other state, the most common DNP job is registered nurse, and RNs have employment rates that are several times higher than the next most common job, both in Colorado and across the country. RN jobs are almost 10 times more common in Colorado than jobs for nurse administrators, who rank second on the list. The least common? Nurse midwife jobs.
Colorado employment per 1,000 jobs
|Postsecondary Nursing Instructors||0.362|
Most of the state’s largest cities are home to elevated salaries for many jobs, and this holds true for DNP employment as well. In fact, three of the top five cities and metro areas have average salaries across the six DNP jobs that are upwards of $100,000, and two others are quite close. Salary levels for DNP professionals are highest in the Denver metro area.
Average salary by city, top 5
Jump to a Career
- Nurse Practitioner
- Registered Nurse
- Nurse Administrator
- Post Secondary Nurse Instructor
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Nurse Midwife
The most obvious career choice after earning a DNP is becoming a nurse practitioner. After all, the degree is right there in the name of the job. Nurse practitioners (NPs) are advanced nurses who are able to perform many of the same functions as physicians, and they can generally choose from a variety of potential specialty areas. Colorado has one of the most expansive practice environments for NPs, which makes the state attractive for these nursing professionals. Among the cities and metro areas in Colorado with available data, salaries are highest in Boulder and lowest in Colorado Springs, though even Colorado Springs has an average salary near $100,000.
Average annual nurse practitioner wage by city/metro area
Pueblo is the biggest hotspot in Colorado for NP employment rates, with that city having by far the highest concentration of NP employment than any other area of the state.
Nurse practitioner employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
While few RN jobs require applicants to have a DNP, for many graduates, RN jobs will continue to remain attractive. RNs who do have DNP degrees will be able to command even higher salaries than the overall average for the job, which is highest in Boulder and lowest in Greeley.
Average annual registered nurse wage by city/metro area
RN employment rates are the highest of any DNP job we studied, and several cities in Colorado have especially high rates compared to others. Pueblo’s RN employment rate is No. 1 in Colorado, followed by Grand Junction and Fort Collins.
Registered nurse employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
While most DNP grads will pursue jobs that are focused on patient care after they earn their degrees, medical leadership roles are another common pursuit. These positions, such as nurse administrator, tend to take DNP professionals off the nursing frontlines and put them in overarching executive roles. The bump in responsibilities comes with a salary bump, and Grand Junction and the Denver metro area are nearly tied for the highest average wage for nurse administrators.
Average annual nurse administrator wage by city/metro area
Nurse administrator jobs tend to be quite common, and after RN positions, employment rates for nurse administrators are the highest in Colorado for the six jobs we studied. Pueblo has the highest employment rate for nurse administrators, and Greeley the lowest.
Nurse administrator employment per 1,000 jobs by city/metro area
Narrowing the nursing professional gap will mean accelerating and improving educational and training opportunities for nursing students. Postsecondary nursing instructors are vital for tackling this issue, as they can guide students through advanced nursing programs. These positions also are popular for current professionals who have DNP degrees and want to make a career change or boost their income through side work. The only city with available data on postsecondary nursing instructor wages in Colorado is Denver, where the average salary is $79,400.
Nurse anesthetists are by far the best-paid DNP professionals among the six we studied, and while data was available only for Denver, the metro area’s average salary for these DNP workers is more than $180,000, putting the city in the top 15% of the nearly 400 cities and metro areas with available data in the U.S.
Many DNP programs offer an education track in midwifery, which focuses on assisting women during and after pregnancy. The only geographic data available for Colorado tells us that Denver’s average wage for nurse midwives is $109,900, which ranks the city at No. 17 nationally.
We don’t yet know how the COVID-19 pandemic will affect nursing employment over the long term, whether in Colorado or beyond. But with relatively high wages and strong employment levels, the state looks to be quite attractive for DNP graduates.
Our analysis of BLS data covered a total of six jobs that are commonly available with a DNP degree, though that’s not as a complete listing of all possible jobs. We used the May 2019 data, which was published in April 2020.