Facts About Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists

What Is A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist?

Certified registered nurse anesthetists perform the same roles as anesthesiologists in the operating room in that they administer anesthesia. As it is a job that carries with it a high degree of responsibility, it also carries with it a high degree of professional respect and acclaim. In general this line of work also pays substantially more than most other nursing specializations in the field.

Nature Of The Work/Duties

Clearly, then, the main task of a certified registered nurse anesthetist is to administer anesthesia. The two main situations in which this may be done are as follows:

  • During, after, or before surgery in order to ensure that a procedure will be conducted painlessly
  • During childbirth in order to ease the process of labor

Certified registered nurse anesthetists can perform all of the same tasks as anesthesiologists in the operating room. In many cases they are not even supervised as their skill level is such that they are allowed to be independent. Add to this the fact that certified registered nurse anesthetists are cheaper to hire than anesthesiologists and you will soon realize that with a qualification like this your skills will be in high demand in many hospitals and other facilities.


Because of the high level of skill needed in this line of work, and because of the many years of training involved in becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist, you will find employment in a large variety of settings, including hospital operating rooms, ambulatory surgery centers, pain clinics, physicians’ offices, and in the U.S. military. The common denominator that each of these settings share is that they have to do with pain management during a procedure or as the result of an injury or illness that is causing a patient undue pain. As a large portion of the medical field involves pain of some kind and because new operating procedures are being developed regularly, there will always be a need for nurse anesthetists, especially in outlying areas and hospitals where anesthesiologists are not employed as they charge too much.

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Requirements

As with all other nursing specialties there are a number of requirements that you will need to meet in order to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist. The requirements are:

  • A bachelor’s degree: This can be in nursing or in another topic, as long as the school to which you are applying considers the degree to be appropriate.
  • An RN license: This indicates that you need to complete all of the necessary RN training and examinations before you can consider becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist.
  • 1 year of experience in acute care nursing: Again the definition of “acute care nursing” will be determined by the school you are applying to.

Meeting the above requirements will gain you access into a training program to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist.

Personality Traits

There are a number of personality traits the certified registered nurse anesthetists are required to have in order to make a success of their jobs. Perhaps one of the most important traits is a natural drive to learn at all times. This is because there are constantly advancements being made in the area of surgery and anesthesia, and, in order to do your job well, you, as a certified registered nurse anesthetist, must be able to keep up to date with these advancements. In addition to this the natural tendency to be compassionate and detail oriented will serve you well in this line of work as people are often fearful and in need of comfort in the operating room, and because one small mistake could be deadly in terms of administering anesthesia.

Educational Requirements

There are a number of educational requirements that you will need to meet in order to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist:

  • Firstly you will need a high school diploma or GED equivalent to enter a nursing training program.
  • Secondly it is necessary for you to earn a bachelor’s degree (as you need an RN license, it is better that this bachelor’s degree be earned in nursing and not in a another topic).
  • Most importantly you will need to complete a master’s degree program that will allow you to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist.

In short a master’s degree is the minimum level of education required for this line of work. In addition you need to gain experience as a nurse, meaning that it may take a long time to reach your goal.


In order to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist you need to hold an RN license. This license can be earned by applying for licensure with the state board of nursing in your area. Once they have confirmed that you can become licensed and you have received the necessary documentation, you can set an exam date with Pearson VUE< the company that administers the national licensing examination for RNs. Passing the exam will mean that you will receive licensure from your state board of nursing. Different states have different rules, but you may be required to maintain your license by renewing it once every few years and demonstrating proof that you have completed a certain amount of continuing education in the interim. In addition a certain amount of hands-on experience in the field may also be required.

How To Become A Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Training, Advancement And Other Qualifications

It is not enough to simply become an RN and then complete a few small training courses. In order to be certified registered nurse anesthetist it is necessary that you undergo advanced training in the form of a master’s degree program in nursing. The coursework that you will need to become well versed in during this period of study includes:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Pharmacology
  • Principles of anesthesia
  • Management and advanced practice nursing

There are two aspects involved in any master’s degree program that prepares you to be a certified registered nurse anesthetist. Firstly you will need to engage in theoretical classroom study that will provide you with the basic information you need. In addition, however, you will also need to engage in a fair amount of hands-on training.

Source An Accredited Education Program

Attending a program and school that is accredited is extremely important. The National League of Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) accredits all types of nursing education programs including master’s degree in certified registered anesthetist nursing. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits programs that offer only master’s and baccalaureate level nursing degrees, but this definitely includes master’s degrees in certified registered nurse anesthetist programs. Last but not least the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA) accredits nurse anesthesia programs at several degree levels, including master’s degree programs that will allow you to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist. Some schools and programs are approved by your state board of nursing, but remember that this does not automatically mean that they are appropriately accredited.

Earn Your Associate’s Degree

Earning your associate’s degree in nursing will earn you an RN license eventually, and can therefore be a first step in your process to becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist. To earn your associate’s degree:

  • Begin by researching all of the schools offering the qualification in your area and creating a shortlist of the most appropriate options for you.
  • Ensure that you meet all application requirements and that you are aware of the application process for each specific school.
  • Apply to at least three of the schools on your list in order to improve your chances of being accepted quickly.
  • Once you have been accepted at these schools, select the best option.
  • Completing the program and fulfilling all of the necessary course requirements will allow you to graduate with an associate’s degree.

Obtain Your Licensure

The only license, strictly speaking, required for this line of work is the RN license discussed earlier. However you also need to become certified in order to work as a certified registered nurse anesthetist. This requires completing a master’s degree program in nursing and then taking the certification exam offered by the Council on Certification of Nurse Anesthetists. In order to be eligible to write this examination in the first place you need to have a valid registered nurse license, complete the required forty credits of continuing education, show proof of practice of anesthesia during the two year period, and absence of any problems, mental or physical, that would be detrimental to the practice of a nurse anesthetist. Once certification has been achieved you will need to renew it once every two years.

Online/Distance Education Programs

Online or distance education may seem like an attractive option due to the fact that it tends to be cheaper and more convenient. However you must keep in mind that a nursing program will always consist of the following two aspects:

  • Theoretical classroom training
  • Hands-on practical experience

The second aspect cannot be completed online, so at best you will only be able to complete part of your program in an online setting. However even this can reduce the burden that many students enrolled in intensive master’s degree programs such as this one tend to experience over the course of their studies. As with other any other school, you must ensure that the online or distance education school you attend is accredited by the appropriate accrediting agencies, such as the NLNAC, CCNE, or the COA.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for this profession is extremely good. In general there is expected to be a 26 percent increase in employment for RNs across the board from 2012 through 2020. This is substantially higher than what we could expect to see in most other industries and occupations. Advanced nursing roles such as this one will always result in professionals in the domain being in high demand in a variety of settings. In addition, as certified registered nurse anesthetists are able to provide the same services as anesthesiologists, but at lower prices, they are being employed more and more frequently in healthcare facilities across the country. Nurses with this specialty also need to complete basic RN training, meaning that it will be possible for them to find employment in general nursing as well as in anesthesia.


The average salary that you can earn in this position is about $77,792 – $169,583 a year. Other aspects, such as the potential for a bonus of up to $15,351 a year and the potential for profit sharing of about $1,449 – $19,678 a year can bring the total salary to $78,202 – $184,291 a year.

The industry you work can affect the amount of money you earn in this line of work:

  • In Healthcare you can expect to earn around $78,981 – $177,705 a year
  • In a Hospital you can expect to earn around $77,964 – $179,809 a year
  • In the Medical Services you can expect to earn around $77,237 – $179,125 a year
  • In General Surgery you can expect to earn around $78,371 – $178,401 a year
  • In an Acute Care Hospital you can expect to earn around $85,923 – $184,253 a year

Different states tend to pay different rates to nurse anesthetists. In addition different cities within the same state may also pay different rates to their nurse anesthetists. The top paying cities are:

  • Denver, Colorado
  • Portland, Oregon
  • San Francisco, California
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Houston, Texas
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Little Rock, Arkansas
  • New York, New York
  • Baltimore, Maryland
  • Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  • Miami, Florida
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Jacksonville, Florida
  • Springfield, Missouri
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Atlanta, Georgia

Leave a Reply