Nurse Anesthetist
How to Become a

Nurse Anesthetist

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

Why We Love It

  • $160,250
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • 19.4%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Growing Demand
    Job Outlook
  • Good Entry Level Salary
    Career Attribute

Nurse anesthetists work with anesthesiologists to prepare patients for receiving pain-blocking drugs. Prior to surgeries, nurse anesthetists prepare patients for receiving anesthesia, and they monitor patient vital signs during treatment to ensure an appropriate amount of medication has been administered.


What is a Nurse Anesthetist?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in nurse anesthetist roles:

  • Discuss medical histories and medications with patients before procedures
  • Administer local anesthetics to numb areas where anesthetic needles will be inserted
  • Monitor patient vital signs during treatment to ensure no issues exist
  • Monitor patients while recovering from anesthetics after procedures to ensure proper recovery
  • Perform both scheduled and emergency procedures

A Day in the Life

Nurse anesthetists are nurses who assist anesthesiologists with the administration of anesthesia before surgeries, childbirth, and invasive diagnostic procedures. They may assist anesthesiologists with administration of general anesthesia, or they may work also to administer less dangerous forms of anesthesia—like local anesthesia—to block pain during procedures. When a patient arrives for a procedure, the nurse anesthetist takes a medical history and collects a list of current prescriptions to ensure that the proper amount of medication is administered, and to avoid dangerous drug interactions.

After determining that it is safe to administer anesthetics to a patient, the nurse anesthetist begins preparing the patient for the procedure. He/she cleans the insertion area and administers a local anesthetic to eliminate pain from installation of an IV. The nurse anesthetist then inserts the needle that will be used during the procedure to administer anesthetics. He/she also explains the process to the patient, and helps the patient stay calm and relaxed by understanding exactly what’s going to happen.

During the procedure, nurse anesthetists monitor patient vitals to look for signs of issues. This could include excess sedation or ineffective sedation. They may recommend raising or lowering medication levels depending on the type of issue the patient’s vital signs point to. After the surgery, the nurse anesthetist monitors patient recovery. When the patient wakes up from treatment, the nurse anesthetist explains to the patient how to recover and delivers any prescriptions from the anesthesiologist.

Typical Work Schedule

Most nurse anesthetists or certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) work full-time with 40 – 50 working hours per week. Similar to other medical jobs, nurses work on rotating 8 – 10 hours shifts including evenings, weekends and holidays. They may also be called on emergencies if there are not enough nurses available to handle a certain emergency.

Projected Job Growth

There are currently 44,000 nurse anesthetists working in the United States registered in the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nurse anesthetists is expected to increase by 14% from 2019 to 2029 which is much faster than the average for all other occupations. This growth is mainly attributed to an increase in the demand for healthcare services in general due to the increasingly aging US population. CRNA are qualified to perform many of the same duties as physicians explaining the high demand for this job. This profession will be increasingly used in team-based models of care, particularly in hospitals, offices of physicians, clinics, and other care settings, where they will be primarily needed. You should not find problems to get an adequate job in the field if you completed a degree from an accredited program and passed a national certification exam. Some positions may also require a master’s degree to be the minimum required education. Some nurses may also consider pursuing a Doctor of Nursing Practice or a PhD to have a better edge among the competition.

Career Progression

  • Early Career: Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
  • Mid-Career: Registered Nurse (RN)
  • Late Career: Nurse Practitioner (NP), Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Nurse Midwife (CNM)

Typical Employers

The typical employers of nurse anesthetists include local or private hospitals. They may also work for offices of physicians of private practices as well as working with other health practitioners. In addition, some may consider working in educational institutions helping new doctors and physicians gain more experience. Some may work for different outpatient care centers when intervention is necessary or for organizations providing field medical services as the Red Cross.


How To Become a Nurse Anesthetist

The first step to becoming a nurse anesthetist is to earn a bachelor’s degree from a college or university with an accredited nursing program. With a bachelor’s degree, you’ll qualify to sit for the licensing examination that’s required to become a licensed registered nurse (RN). After earning a bachelor’s degree and an RN license, most RNs will work as nurses in critical care facilities—such as intensive care units (ICUs)—for at least one year to gain professional experience before pursuing further education to become a nurse anesthetist.

To find work as a nurse anesthetist, you’ll need to continue your education to earn a master’s degree in nursing. These programs typically last two years. In a master’s degree program, you must make sure to take coursework related to the administration of anesthesiology in order to ensure that the education prepares you for the work you’ll do in your career, as well as for the test you’ll be required to take in order to become certified as a nurse anesthetist.

After graduating from a master’s degree program in nursing, you’ll need to pass another test to become licensed to work as a nurse anesthetist in your state. Each state has its own guidelines for licensing prerequisites and requirements—as well as what tasks a nurse anesthetist is allowed to perform—so it’s important to familiarize yourself with the requirements before pursuing higher education. By passing the exam, you’ll become a certified registered nurse anesthetist and can start practicing in your state.


Nurse Anesthetist 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

Low Range

$133,990

Average

$160,250

High Range

---

National Hourly Wage

Low Range

$64/hr

Average

$77/hr

High Range

---

How do Nurse Anesthetist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Nurse Anesthetist's can make an average annual salary of $160,250, or $77 per hour. On the lower end, they can make $133,990 or $64 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #15 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Average Salary Nationally


Programs and Degrees

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


Highest Education Among Nurse Anesthetists

  • 13.6%   Doctorate
  • 61.5%   Masters
  • 13.6%   Bachelors
  • 4%   Associates
  • 4.9%   College
  • 2.3%   High School
  • 0%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs

38,200

2024 Est. Jobs

45,600

Job Growth Rate

19.4%

Est. New Jobs

7,400

How does Nurse Anesthetist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of 7,400 jobs for a total of 45,600 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a 19.4% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Above Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #56 Nationally for All Careers

  • Above Avg. Growth Nationally


What Companies Employ The Most Nurse Anesthetists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Offices of physicians 21,400 4,800 5%
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 8,500 600 1%
General medical and surgical hospitals; local 1,800 --- ---

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