How to Become an


The complete career guide to be an Anesthesiologist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $258,100
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 21.1%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • High Income Potential
    Career Attribute

Anesthesiologists are doctors who specialize in the administration of pain relief or pain-blocking drugs and treatments. Prior to surgeries or childbirth, anesthesiologists administer drugs to patients that allow them to get through procedures without experiencing excruciating pain or unnecessary discomfort.

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What is an Anesthesiologist?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in anesthesiologist roles:

  • Create plans for administering anesthetics to patients prior to surgeries or other procedures
  • Administer anesthetics to patients before procedures, and monitor patient vitals during procedures
  • Monitor patients while recovering from anesthetics after procedures to ensure proper recovery
  • Prescribe treatments or medications designed to relieve post-procedure pain or discomfort
  • Perform both scheduled and emergency anesthetic administration

A Day in the Life

Anesthesiologists are doctors who specialize in pain blocking and pain relief. When a patient undergoes a surgery or procedure that could result in significant pain or trauma, anesthesiologists are called in to develop a plan for preventing patients from experiencing excruciating pain or unnecessary discomfort. They’re the doctors who arrive to administer an epidermal during childbirth, who put patients to sleep before major surgeries, and who administer conscious sedation drugs for less invasive procedures.

Before a procedure, anesthesiologists develop an anesthetics plan. They evaluate patient weight, allergies, and medical histories to determine an appropriate sedation plan. This may include the amount of drugs that will be administered, the equipment that needs to be installed to administer anesthetics, and the specific form of sedation required for the procedure. The anesthesiologist arrives before the procedure begins and administers the required anesthetics according to the pre-established plan.

During the procedure, the anesthesiologist monitors patient vitals to look for signs of issues. This could include excess sedation or ineffective sedation. When necessary, the anesthesiologist alters the amount of medication being administered to ensure patient heart rates do not drop to dangerous levels, or to ensure patients cannot feel pain during the procedure. After the surgery, the anesthesiologist monitors patient recovery and prescribes a post-procedure pain management plan that may include additional administration of local anesthetics or prescriptions for pain medicine.

Typical Work Schedule

Anesthesiologists may be required to work irregular hours. While scheduled procedures may be performed during normal business hours, anesthesiologists may need to be on-call and available to handle emergencies in evenings, on weekends, or over holidays.

Typical Employers

Anesthesiologists work in many different types of healthcare institutions. They may work in hospitals, physician or dentist offices, outpatient care facilities, or clinics.

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How To Become an Anesthesiologist

The first step in becoming an anesthesiologist is to earn a bachelor’s degree. While the major you pursue as an undergraduate is flexible, you should make sure to take common pre-med coursework during your studies. Coursework in chemistry, anatomy, calculus, biology, and physics are important when applying for medical school, so regardless of what major you decide to pursue, you should make sure to take the appropriate courses as part of your major—or as electives—to improve your chances of being accepted into a med school graduate program.

After earning a bachelor’s degree, you need to enroll in medical school to earn a professional degree. Aspiring anesthesiologists commonly pursue one of two professional degrees: a medical degree (M.D.) or a doctor of osteopathy degree (D.O.). Both of these programs require four years of study, and upon graduation, you’ll be licensed to work as a doctor or osteopath. However, becoming qualified to work as an anesthesiologist has additional requirements.

Aspiring anesthesiologists must complete four or more years in an anesthesiology residency. The residency program allows aspiring anesthesiologists to learn the role by observing and assisting experienced anesthesiologists. Upon completion of the residency program, students sit for the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) exam. Passing this exam is a requirement for licensure in many states, but upon passing the test, you’ll qualify to work as an anesthesiologist in your state.

Anesthesiologist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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How do Anesthesiologist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Anesthesiologist's can make an average annual salary of $258,100, or $124 per hour. On the lower end, they can make --- or --- per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #1 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming an Anesthesiologist. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Anesthesiologists

  • 93.7%   Doctorate
  • 3.3%   Masters
  • 2.3%   Bachelors
  • 0.3%   Associates
  • 0.1%   College
  • 0.2%   High School
  • 0.2%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Anesthesiologist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 7,100 jobs for a total of 40,800 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 21.1% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #48 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally

What Companies Employ The Most Anesthesiologists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Offices of physicians 25,400 5,800 6%
Self-employed workers 3,300 700 1%
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 2,900 200 0%

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