August 18, 2015

Nurse Anesthetist Salary and Career Opportunities

Nurse Anesthetist Salary and Career Opportunities

Salary Overview

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) are nurses  with advanced degree (master’s Degree) and advanced training who specializes in administering and monitoring patients receiving anesthesia.

Find Nursing Programs

While admission to a master’s program requires a bachelor’s degree, the undergraduate degree doesn’t necessarily have to be in nursing. However, graduate students must be RNs with some job experience.

The CRNA credential appeared in 1956 and is awarded by the National Board of Certification & Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA) . CRNAs must recertify every two years and meet all state licensing requirements. Some nurse anesthetists opt to pursue doctoral degrees and are able to advance by working as educators and researchers.

These nurses can work in a variety of settings and provide anesthesia and related care for patients undergoing surgical, diagnostic, therapeutic, and obstetrical procedures. These RNs  also manage pain and provide emergency treatment such as managing airways.

The demand for CRNAs reflects the overall nursing shortage. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , the demand for RNs will jump 19 percent from 2012 to 2022. However, the job outlook for nurse anesthetists suggests a 31 percent increase..which  is due partly to recent healthcare legislation and aging of the baby boomer generation.

Paths to Increase Nurse Anesthetist Salary

Another option to increase compensation is specializing in areas such as pediatric, cardiovascular, or dental anesthesia. Since anesthesia services are in high demand in all areas of the country, some nurses increase their salaries by working as per diem and travel nurses. They often receive financial assistance for housing and relocation costs from employers.

The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists says CRNA  safely administer anesthesia around 32 million times each year in the United States. According to the Mayo Clinic , demand for the 44,000 U.S. nurse anesthetists who are certified far exceeds availability.

Related Specialties

Other specialties that provide experience useful to nurse anesthetists include:

  • Surgical nurses have varying duties according to the roles they play in the operating room. A scrub nurse prepares the operating room for surgery and clears away tools afterward. A circulating nurse works outside the sterile field to make sure the patient has a safe, comfortable environment. An RN first assistant watches for complications and monitors a patient’s vital signs. All these responsibilities provide a nurse anesthetist with valuable knowledge of how an operating room functions.
  • Recovery room RN work with anesthesiologists, surgeons, and other doctors to prepare patients for surgery and care for them afterward. They prep patients, help transfer them, sterilize equipment, and record vital signs. They’re the primary caregivers after surgery. They monitor patients’ progress after a procedure, teach patients  the self-care they’ll need at home, and report test results to physicians. They gain experience in patient concerns before and after surgery that can be  very helpful to a nurse anesthetist.
  • Emergency room RNs provide treatment for patients who have undergone trauma or injury and ome ER nurses obtain certification. Their ability to spot life-threatening situations and solve them immediately is excellent preparation for working in an operating room and administering anesthesia.

Further Your Career

The outlook for nurse anesthetists is a rosy one. These professionals are an economical alternative to hiring additional physicians. This is a rewarding career for nurses who enjoy a combination of challenging classroom and clinical training.

Find Nursing Programs

Vonda J. Sines is a freelance writer based in the Washington, DC area. She specializes in health/medical, career, and pet topics and writes extensively about Crohn’s disease. Her work has been published at EverydayHealth, Lifescript,, Yahoo! Health, Catholic Digest, Angie’s List Health, and on many more sites.

Email Signup

Find a job, learn, connect and laugh.

Try us out.

Join our newsletter