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What is a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) Salary?

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Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) earn some of the highest salaries in the nursing field. As advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) — a licensing category that also includes nurse practitioners (NPs) and nurse midwives — CRNAs must hold at least a master’s degree in nursing. CRNAs must also obtain certification from the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA).

CRNAs care for patients during all phases of surgeries and procedures. They take patient histories and advise about the types of anesthesia they plan to use. During medical procedures, they administer anesthesia and pain medication, monitor vital signs, and adjust anesthesia levels as needed.

The nurse anesthetist average annual salary totals $174,790. CRNAs earn their pay by being skilled, detail-oriented multitaskers. Mistakes can result in tragedy, so CRNAs must be able to remain attentive and adaptable under pressure. As of 2018, a total of 45,000 nurse anesthetists were employed in the U.S.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to become a CRNA?

About 7-8 years in total. This includes earning a four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and taking the registered nurse (RN) exam. Most CRNA programs require at least one year of work in acute care nursing. Candidates also spend 2-3 years earning their master of science in nursing (MSN) and obtaining national certification.

What education is required to be a CRNA?

CRNAs must hold at least a master’s degree from an accredited program. A growing number of CRNAs are required to invest 1-3 additional years earning their doctor of nursing practice (DNP), the terminal degree in the nursing field. Some schools offer BSN-to-DNP programs, which combine the MSN and DNP curriculum and can be completed in 3-4 years.

Which is a better job, CRNA or anesthesiologist?

A CRNA requires 7-8 years of education and culminates in an advanced nursing degree and credential. An anesthesiologist holds a medical degree, which takes about 12 years to complete. However, CRNAs and anesthesiologists perform essentially the same jobs, and smaller medical facilities, especially in rural areas, typically employ only CRNAs.

Can CRNAs prescribe medications?

It depends on the state. States conferring full prescriptive authority allow CRNAs to independently prescribe medication. Reduced and restricted prescriptive authority states allow CRNAs to prescribe under supervision by or in a collaborative agreement with a physician. Some states impose provisional prescriptive authority, which requires a collaborative agreement for the first few years and grants more autonomy over time.

Top Paying Industries for Nurse Anesthetists

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists hospitals as the top-paying industry for APRNs, including NPs, nurse midwives, and CRNAs, offering a median annual salary of $122,420. Other high-paying settings include outpatient care centers (median annual wage of $118,530), physicians’ offices ($113,190), other health practitioners’ offices ($112,590), and educational services ($108,790). CRNAs tend to earn more than other APRNs, with the nurse anesthetist average salary approaching $175,000.

Top Paying States for Nurse Anesthetists

According to the BLS, the states offering the highest CRNA salaries are Wyoming, where professionals earn a mean annual wage of $243,310, followed by Montana ($239,380), Oregon ($234,750), Wisconsin ($233,600), and California ($227,290).

The BLS lists the states with the highest employment levels as Texas, logging 4,300 CRNAs; North Carolina with 3,190; Tennessee at 2,680; Ohio employing 2,450; and Michigan, with a tally of 2,330. In terms of paychecks among these states, Michigan tops the list with a mean annual nurse anesthetist salary of $194,640, followed by North Carolina ($189,060), Ohio ($184,380), Texas ($167,020), and Tennessee ($157,070).

Top Paying Metropolitan Areas for Nurse Anesthetists

CRNAs earn the most in the following metropolitan areas: Toledo, Ohio ($266,260); San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California ($254,860); Columbus, Georgia ($247,450); Vallejo-Fairfield, California ($240,820); and Sacramento-Roseville-Arden:Arcade, California ($236,400).

The highest employment levels can be found in New York-Newark-Jersey City with 1,620 CRNAs employed at a mean annual wage of $206,740; the Houston, Texas area with 1,430 making $172,370; and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, and Bloomington, Wisconsin employing 1,360 and paying $185,680.

Rounding out the top five, the Miami, Florida area employs 1,340 at a salary of $171,820, while the Nashville, Tennessee area boasts 1,320 CRNAs earning a mean annual wage of $153,980.

Salary and Job Growth for CRNAs

APRNs can expect to see a 26% projected growth in jobs through 2028, which far exceeds the average rate for all other professions and occupations. Employment opportunities for CRNAs should increase by 17%, with the most openings in rural areas, inner cities, and other underserved locations. An estimated 3,200 nurse anesthetist jobs should become available each year over the next 10 years.

Many factors are expected to drive job growth for CRNAs and other healthcare providers: the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, an aging population, and the need to replace a large number of retiring healthcare workers and those who transition to other careers.

How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

A typical path to launching a CRNA career consists of earning a four-year BSN, becoming licensed and working 1-3 years as a RN, then entering a two-year MSN program in nurse anesthesiology. Other options include pursuing a doctorate through an MSN-to-DNP program, which adds another 1-3 years; earning an associate degree in nursing, obtaining licensure and working as an RN, then entering an RN-to-MSN program; or completing a BSN-to-DNP bridge program.

The timeline for becoming a licensed CRNA varies depending on the degree pursued. CRNAs undergo rigorous training, which includes at least 2,000 hours of clinical experience. CRNAs must be licensed RNs and APRNs and hold national certification in nurse anesthesia from the NBCRNA. Certification involves taking the National Certification Exam (NCE) and the Self-Evaluation Examination (SEE).

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