A railroad company made headlines this week for offering big sign-on bonuses to new employees.

Union Pacific is offering $20,000 in hiring incentives for a position with the Denver "train crew" that requires no previous experience. But that isn’t the only company ready to pay hefty bonuses to fill jobs in Colorado.


UCHealth said there is a huge demand for nurses, both nationally and locally.

“Currently, we have approximately 500 positions open throughout all of UCHealth for nurses,” said Kathy Howell, Chief Nurse Executive for UC Health.

Howell said the health system offers sign-on bonuses for new nurses that range, on average, between $2,500 and $5,000. For some of the most hard-to-fill specialty positions, it’s even higher. Sign-on bonuses for Operating Room nurses can reach $10,000.

“Just the demand for nurses is huge,” she said.

UC Health is also trying to draw nurses into Colorado from other states through a program called UC Health Travelers. Nurses commit to the program for one year and work three-month assignments in different hospitals. They are offered a housing stipend, too. Howell said the goal is to keep the nurses long-term.


RTD is also offering hiring incentives. The transportation system said bus and train operators and mechanics can make an extra $2,000 as a new employee.

“We are currently down close to 100 bus operators,” said RTD spokesperson Lisa Trujillo. “And because of that shortage, we have to mandate overtime and unfortunately drop routes.”

Trujillo said there has been a recent increase in applications for jobs. However, that could also be the result of a new collective bargaining agreement that went into effect in March. Trujillo said that agreement raised the starting wage.

RTD said it also offers paid training for employees to obtain a commercial driver’s license.


The National Association of Colleges and Employers 2018 Job Outlook report said more employers are offering signing bonuses. New grads with business, computer science or engineering degrees are most likely to receive the bonus.

For some, the bonus may not be worth the job, itself. As the Union Pacific job posting notes – employees could be required to work unusual hours. New hires also don’t receive the full bonus immediately - rather, in increments as they work for a period of time.

New UC Health nurses and RTD operators also have to work a while, before they see the full bonus amount.