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Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) have been credentialed to administer anesthesia care since 1956. Each year, CRNAs provide 50 million patients with anesthetics. They also earn the highest salaries of all advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), making over six figures annually.
This guide breaks down salary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and other resources to see how CRNA salaries vary by region, gender, and workplace. Read on to find out where CRNAs earn the most and check out additional NurseJournal pages to explore how to become a nurse anesthetist or overview the CRNA career.
Fast Facts About Nurse Anesthetists
- CRNAs represent more than 80% of the anesthesia providers in rural counties.
- It takes about 7-8.5 years of education and experience to become a CRNA.
- In March 2020, supervision requirements for CRNAs were suspended to increase the capacity of the U.S. healthcare delivery system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA)
Average Salary for Nurse Anesthetists
A high demand for nurse anesthetists has led to steady pay increases. According to BLS data, CRNA salaries have increased by 23.4% since 2016. While nurse anesthetists enjoyed a mean annual wage of $164,030 in 2016, that figure rose to $202,470 by 2021.
The BLS also projects a 13% job growth rate for nurse anesthetists from 2020-30, or 5,600 new positions.
The chart below details nurse anesthetist salary data over the last six years.
COVID-19 Effects on Nurse Anesthetists
The COVID-19 pandemic changed how nurse anesthetists work. At the peak of the pandemic in March and June of 2020, CRNAs used their specialized nursing skills to care for critically ill patients. Their training particularly helped in managing oxygen administration and ventilation methods.
According to a report by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), these APRNs ranked among the top 20 specialties that provided in-person health services during the height of the COVID-19 crisis.
CRNAs became the most sought healthcare providers after CMS waived their physician supervision requirements, offering patients better access to healthcare services. Regulatory changes made in response to the pandemic also allowed nurse anesthetists to operate independently to provide life-saving care.
CRNA Salary Disparities by Gender
Data shows that male CRNAs make more than women in the same role, and the pay gap may be increasing. According to a recent survey from Medscape, male CRNAs earn 15% more than women, an increase from the previous year.
Male CRNAs reported earning an annual gross salary of $217,000, whereas women earned $189,000 a year. Medscape polls APRNs every six years to gather information about incomes and job satisfaction.
The 2020 report features data from 3,294 APRNs, including 391 CRNAs. Male CRNAs represent 45% of the individuals surveyed. Other APRN career specialities represent fewer males: clinical nurse specialists (6%), nurse practitioners (11%), and nurse midwives (1%).
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What Kind of Salary Growth Can Nurse Anesthetists Expect?
A nurse anesthetist's earning potential depends on a variety of factors, including educational level, work setting, and professional experience. As the graphic below demonstrates, CRNAs earn more money as they gain additional nursing experience. According to Payscale, CRNAs with one year of experience earn an average salary of $165,040 as of April 2022.
Average Annual Salary of CRNAs by Experience4 Ways to Increase Pay as a Nurse Anesthetist
Highest-Paying States for Nurse Anesthetists in 2022
Where a nurse anesthetist works may also affect salary potential. The following table addresses differences in CRNA pay by geographic location. Alaska ranks as the top-paying state, with CRNAs earning an annual mean wage above $208,000.
Top-Paying States for Nurse Anesthetists
Highest-Paying Metropolitan Areas for Nurse Anesthetists
Salaries vary as much by city as they do by state. The following cities offer some of the top salaries for CRNAs. However, cities with high wages do not always have the highest employment numbers of nurse anesthetists.
New York, Newark, and Jersey City employ 2,420 CRNAs. Yet, Fairbanks, Alaska, employs only 40 nurse anesthetists but ranks as the top-paying metropolitan area for nurse anesthetists.
The top-paying metropolitan areas for nurse anesthetists are:
|Highest-Paying Cities||Average Salary|
|Fairbanks, AK||Above $208,000|
|Green Bay, WI||Above $208,000|
|Madison, WI||Above $208,000|
|Wausau, WI||Above $208,000|
Highest-Paying Workplaces for Nurse Anesthetists
Nurse anesthetists' work settings also influence how much money they can earn. CRNAs who work in outpatient care centers make the most, followed by individuals who work in specialty services. The following table lists the field's five highest-paying workplace settings and what CRNAs earn in each.
|Workplace Setting||Average Salary|
|Outpatient Care Centers||$254,180|
|Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals||$219,540|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||$212,340|
|Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools||$200,340|
|Offices of Physicians||$194,240|
How Do Nurse Anesthetist Salaries Compare to Other Nurses?
Nurse anesthetists outearn nurses in many other specialties, including registered nurses who earn an average of $82,750 and nurse practitioners who take home about $118,040 a year. Additionally, certifications, educational achievements, and specializations all play a role in a nurse anesthetist's salary.Find Out More About How Much Nurses Earned in 2020
4 Ways to Increase Pay as a Nurse Anesthetist
According to the BLS, the lowest earning 10% of nurse anesthetists make $131,840 a year, while the top 10% bring in over $208,000 annually. Earning potential differs according to industry, educational background, and experience level. However, CRNAs can increase their earnings through the following methods.
- 1. Consider pursuing hourly pay.
- A 2020 report from Medscape found that hourly paid CRNAs earned more than salaried CRNAs. Salaried CRNAs reported earning $192,000 annually, whereas hourly workers earned $203,000 a year. What accounts for this difference? Additional hourly pay may come from working unpopular shifts (such as night or holidays) and overtime, which can be easier to get as an hourly worker. Nurses who pick up critical shifts may also receive additional hourly pay.
- 2. Increase education level.
- The AANA has changed the minimum degree level for CRNAs from a master's to a doctorate. Nurse anesthetists must hold a doctoral degree by 2025. This recommendation follows the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's earlier suggestion that APRNs should earn a doctorate to practice. According to the AANA, CRNAs need either a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.), doctor of nursing practice (DNP), or doctor of education (Ed.D.) to practice in an increasingly complex healthcare system. Higher degrees are associated with higher wages, according to Medscape. The site found that APRNs with a doctoral degree earned $127,000 a year, while master's degree-holders made $122,000.
- 3. Gain experience in administrative roles.
- CRNAs can boost their salaries by gaining administrative experience. Anesthesia departments need directors and managers to handle administrative duties like staffing and financial matters. Gaining additional skills to work at a management level can increase a nurse anesthetist's pay.
- 4. Switch practice setting or location.
- Setting and location also influence a nurse anesthetist's salary. For example, CRNAs who work in rural areas like upstate New York report an annual mean wage of $261,730. While CRNAs are often in high demand in rural regions, they often take on increased workloads. However, some professionals find that relocating or changing work settings benefits their financial situation.
Frequently Asked Questions: Nurse Anesthetist Salaries
How much do CRNAs make starting out?
According to Medscape's 2020 APRN Compensation Report, APRNs make about $109,000 a year during their first five years of employment. Again, this figure varies by location and setting. A nurse anesthetist's education and credentials also influence their initial pay rate.
Can a nurse anesthetist make 300k?
Yes. Nurse anesthetists can make $300,000 a year, or close to that figure. In upstate New York, one of the top-paying nonmetropolitan areas for nurse anesthetists, CRNAs earn $261,730 annually.
Do CRNAs make more than doctors?
Yes, in some instances and regions. What a nurse and doctor earn respectively depends on their specialty and location. CRNAs draw a median annual salary of $195,610, more than other APRNs, and the top 10% of nurse anesthetists earn above $200,000. In contrast, nurse practitioners make a median salary of $120,680, according to the BLS.
Are nurse anesthetists in demand?
Absolutely. Demand for CRNAs is higher than ever. The BLS projects employment rates for nurse anesthetists to grow by 13% from 2020-30, with all APRN jobs increasing by 45% in that period.
Learn More About Nurse Anesthetists
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