Nurse Anesthetist Careers and Salary Outlook 2020

Individuals interested in treating patients with anesthesia may want to learn how to become a nurse anesthetist. What is a nurse anesthetist and what does a nurse anesthetist do? This page details the career, providing information on nurse anesthetist degree paths, nurse anesthetist requirements, and nurse anesthetist salary data.

Readers can learn what nurse anesthetists do, where they work, and what skills they need to be successful. This page also features training and certification information, job growth data, and resources for the profession.

What is a Nurse Anesthetist?

Nurse anesthetists work as advanced practice nurses certified in administering anesthesia. To practice as a nurse anesthetist, individuals must earn certification. Certified nurse anesthetists work as graduate-level nurses while anesthesiologists are medical doctors. Certified nurse anesthetists can practice without supervision. When they administer anesthesia, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) considers it nursing practice whereas when anesthesiologists administer anesthesia, it is considered practicing medicine.

What Do Nurse Anesthetists Do?

Nurse anesthetists work as advanced practice nurses and treat patients through the use of anesthesia before and after surgery. They assist in many ways, including surgery and birth. They also help with pain-related illnesses. According to the AANA, nurse anesthetists are the only certified personnel to deliver anesthesia in two out of three hospitals in the rural United States.

When considering how to become a nurse anesthetist, professionals can explore the specific roles and responsibilities that go along with the career path. Nurse anesthetists record patient history information and perform physical assessments. They also educate patients and their families about the types of anesthesia they use. These nurses monitor their patients during administration, paying attention to their temperature, oxygenation, ventilation, neuromuscular status, and ventilation. Nurse anesthetists also administer anesthesia locally, through sedation, through the spine, and intravenously.

Where Do Nurse Anesthetists Work?

Most nurse anesthetists work in hospitals, particularly in operating rooms and obstetric care units. These nurses can also explore job opportunities in outpatient surgery centers, public health centers, plastic surgery centers, pain management centers, and dental offices. In any healthcare setting where anesthesia is present, administered, and necessary, nurse anesthetists can explore job opportunities. Specific career paths depend on whether professionals hold licensure or certification. Certification allows nurses to practice nursing when administering anesthesia, while those who hold licensure practice medicine.

Skills That Could Affect Nurse Anesthetist Salaries

Nurse anesthetists must be able to multitask and pay close attention to detail. Anesthesia is very particular and nurse anesthetists cannot make mistakes. They must remain attentive and thorough. These nurses need strong critical-thinking skills and should feel comfortable working under pressure.

Nurse anesthetists must listen to and communicate with specialists, physicians, and patients. They should remain willing to adapt to changing scenarios, adjusting care plans in situational circumstances.

Anesthesia nurses must prioritize responsibilities to ensure they tend to every aspect of patient needs and provide the highest quality of care.

How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist

The first step to becoming a nurse anesthetist is earning a bachelor of science in nursing and completing the registered nurse (RN) licensing program by passing the NCLEX-RN exam. Once individuals hold their RN license, they can enroll in a master of science in nursing program and ultimately advance into a doctoral opportunity if they choose to continue their education.

Upon earning an advanced degree, professionals can seek the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) credential. Pursuing advanced degrees and certification allows professionals to seek more specialized roles with higher salaries.


Certified registered nurse anesthetists are advanced practice RNs who complete a master of science in nursing or a doctoral degree in nursing. Before individuals can advance into a master's program, they must complete an accredited bachelor of science in nursing and successfully complete a registered nursing licensing program.

The Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Education Programs accredits nurse anesthesia programs. Aspiring nurses can explore more than 120 accredited nurse anesthesia programs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Nurse anesthesia programs vary in terms of length dependent upon on the degree and enrollment type.

Training and Certification

Once learners graduate from an advanced degree program, they can pursue the CRNA credential from the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists. The exam ensures competencies of entry-level CRNAs and legally permits them to practice in the state in which they reside.

General certification requirements include holding an active, unencumbered RN license and a graduate degree from an accredited nurse anesthetist program. Candidates must submit a record of their clinical and academic experience. Licensure and certification in the nurse anesthetist field differ. Certification denotes that professionals can deliver anesthesia in a healthcare setting while licensure legally permits professionals to practice in their state.

Certified registered nurse anesthetist exists as its own particular specialty, enabling professionals to gain the specialized skills they need to work in children's hospitals, cardiothoracic care areas, obstetric and labor and delivery units, acute surgical pain management, advanced pain management, and trauma critical care units.

Nurse Anesthetist Salaries and Job Growth

How much does a nurse anesthetist make? Nurse anesthetist salary data varies depending on nurses' location and experience. The national median salary for nurse anesthetists is $147,603. Entry-level nurse anesthetists earn an average annual salary of $131,086 while more experienced nurse anesthetists earn $170,672.

The outpatient care center industry is the top-paying industry for nurse anesthetists while the offices of physicians industry features the highest employment levels and concentration of jobs. Montana pays nurse anesthetists the most, South Dakota offers the highest concentration of jobs, and Texas boasts the occupation's highest employment levels. Other high-paying states for nurse anesthetists include California, Iowa, Oregon, and Wisconsin.

Median Salary for Nurse Anesthetists by Career Experience

  • Entry Level: $131,086
  • Early Career: $139,354
  • Mid Career: $151,081
  • Experienced: $162,170
  • Late Career: $170,672

Source: PayScale

Related Job Salaries
Registered Nurse (RN) Certified Surgical Technologist (CST) Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) Registered Nurse (RN), Emergency Room Registered Nurse (RN), Critical Care
$63,393 $44,362 $43,528 $66,391 $72,656

Source: PayScale

Nurse Anesthetist Resources

  • American Association of Nurse Anesthetists Functioning as the professional organization for almost 54,000 nurse anesthetists, AANA also represents student registered nurse anesthetists around the country. The association represents nearly 90% of the nurse anesthetists practicing in the U.S. and maintains headquarters near Chicago, Illinois.
  • American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses Representing the interests of 60,000 nurses who specialize in preanesthesia and postanesthesia care, pain management, and ambulatory surgery, ASPAN provides members with resources for research, clinical practice, standards, and education. The society offers information for both medical companies and professionals in the field.
  • American Board of Perianesthesia Nursing Certification, Inc. A nonprofit established by the American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses in 1985, ABPANC sponsors certification programs for registered nurses providing care for patients who have experienced anesthesia, sedation, and analgesia. The board offers the Certified Post Anesthesia Nurse and Certified Ambulatory Perianesthesia Nurse certification programs.
  • National Board of Certification & Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists Operating as the nation's certifying body for both the initial and continued certification of nearly 54,000 CRNAs, NBCRNA protects the public's well-being by ensuring certified individuals practice effectively and safely. The board develops and implements credentialing programs to support constant learning for nurse anesthetists.
  • American Nurses Association The nation's leading professional organization for registered nurses, ANA aims to provide quality healthcare for everyone in the United States. The group fosters high standards for nursing practice while simultaneously supporting an ethical, safe work environment. The organization also offers career development resources to members.