How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist
This job is projected to grow an astonishing 45% in the next 10 years.
Learn how to become a nurse anesthetist and you’ll find yourself in one of the most needed, highest paid, and most rewarding of all nursing careers.
As an RN, you have more than 100 specializations you can choose to further your career, but the demand for nurse anesthetists far outpaces most occupations. The need for CRNAs (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists) is projected to grow an astonishing 45% in the next 10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
What Is a Nurse Anesthetist?
Becoming a nurse anesthetist is a multi-step process. It starts with you becoming a nurse, and then expanding your knowledge and training until you earn the designation of CRNA, one of the most advanced of all nursing professions.
As you can probably tell from the title, the first step after you graduate with a nursing degree is to become an RN. From there you become an APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse). APRNs perform many of the same services as physicians and can choose any number of specializations, such as certified nurse anesthetist.
What Does a Nurse Anesthetist Do?
Among your responsibilities as a nurse anesthetist is to put your patient at ease before surgery and make sure anesthesia is administered safely.
If you’ve had surgery, you’ve been asked by the nurse anesthetist or anesthesiologist to count backwards from 100 while going to sleep. It’s not a test! It helps to distract you from anxiety and helps monitor how you are responding to the medication. This monitoring continues throughout the procedure, as CRNAs keep track of vital signs and make any necessary adjustments to the delivery of the medication.
As a nurse anesthetist, you play a crucial role in a patient’s health and comfort. As the basis of your job, you will:
- Take patient medical histories, including what medications they take or any allergies they have
- Answer patient questions
- Administer anesthesia
- Monitor patients’ vital signs
- Oversee patient recovery from anesthesia during surgery, therapeutic, diagnostic, and obstetrical procedures
Check out Monster’s nurse anesthetist job description to see more common duties and responsibilities associated with the position.
Nurse Anesthetist Hours and Work Environment
Most nurse anesthetist work full time. You may be in a doctor’s or dentist’s office, or in an outpatient care center, working normal full- or part-time hours.
If you choose to work in a hospital, nursing home, or other health care facility that needs to provide 24-hour care, you might work shifts that include nights, weekends, and holidays.
If you specialize in critical care or help deliver babies, you probably will be on call. You can also choose to be a traveling nurse, going to places where there is a shortage of health care workers.
Nurse Anesthetist Schooling Requirements
Along with earning your nursing degree and getting your RN license, you must have at least a master’s degree in your specialty of anesthesia. Beginning in 2025, all CRNAs will need a doctorate in nurse anesthesia (DNAP) to enter the field.
Nurse Anesthetist Programs
You have a choice of several paths on how to become a nurse anesthetist:
- You can go through a traditional college program to earn your bachelor’s degree in nursing, followed by your master’s degree.
- If you’re already an RN with an associate’s degree or diploma, you can find a bridge program to earn your master’s. These are called ADN-to-MSN, RN-to-NP, or RN-to-MSN.
- If you have earned an associate’s degree in another health science field besides nursing, you can find programs to prepare for your RN license exam along with the APRN education.
Need some help paying for your degrees and certification? Check out these nursing scholarships that can cover some of the costs of your education.
Nurse Anesthetist Education
You will have a mixture of classroom and clinical time as you complete nurse anesthetist training. A strong background in science will help you earn good grades in classes that include health assessment, pathophysiology, and pharmacology. You will also take classes tailored to your chosen specialty of anesthesiology.
Coursework in DNAP programs include additional training in topics such as:
- anesthesia pharmacology
- obstetric anesthesia
- anesthesia pathophysiology
- anesthesia biology
- geriatric anesthesia
Along with classroom learning, nurse anesthetist requirements include at least one year of experience as a registered nurse in a critical care setting. This is a prerequisite to being accepted to a nurse anesthetist program.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse Anesthetist?
The list of requirements may look daunting, but remember, you will be providing a critical part of a patient’s care, especially when they may be in the worst of conditions. You will also be highly compensated.
Currently, it takes seven years to complete the course of study and licensure to become a CRNP. Come 2025, add four more years to that to make it 11.
How Much Does a Nurse Anesthetist Make?
According to Monster data, the median nurse anesthetist salary is $115,373 and can range from $42,236 to $175,277.
Pay will vary depending on where you live and work. You can look up the average salary for nurse anesthetists in your location by using the Monster Salary Guide.
How to Find Nurse Anesthetist Jobs
When you become a nurse anesthetist, you will join one of the fastest growing medical professions with a rewarding and high paying job. Take a look at what CRNA jobs are listed on Monster now.
According to the BLS, areas that are hiring the most nurse anesthetists include:
Kick-Start Your Nurse Anesthetist Career
Now that you know how to become a nurse anesthetist—and just how tremendously in-demand you are—you’ll want to keep your eyes on which employers will be the best fit for you. Want some help with that? Be sure to upload your resume to Monster for free so recruiters can find you for the top nursing jobs in your area.