Working as a nurse anesthetist offers individuals the opportunity for a very good salary potential as well as the chance to spend more time working in an operating room. Nurse anesthetists are trained professionals known as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs).
Professionals with these nursing jobs work in surgical units assisting anesthesiologists in administering medication to patients undergoing surgery. A certified nurse anesthetist is very much in demand and earns the highest salary in the nursing profession.
What is a Nurse Anesthetist?
A Nurse Anesthetist is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) who specializes in administering anesthesia. These professionals give anesthesia and related care before, during, and after surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic, obstetrical procedures, and various other medical procedures. They often work in operating rooms, providing anesthesia for emergency surgery.
These healthcare professionals assess a patient’s condition, develop and implement an anesthesia plan, and monitor the patient’s progress during and after the procedure. A Certified Nurse Anesthetist must have a minimum of a master’s degree in nursing and pass a certification exam before practicing. Certified Anesthetists can provide anesthesia services independently or collaborate with other healthcare professionals.
How do You Become a Certified Nurse Anesthetist?
To work as a nurse anesthetist, an individual must complete a formal nurse anesthetist training program. Becoming a nurse anesthetist currently requires a minimum of a master’s degree in nursing which typically takes two to three years to complete. Most nursing schools offer a nurse anesthesia program.
Typical nurse anesthetist programs require applicants to already have a bachelor’s degree in nursing. However, some APRN schools have bridge programs for RNs with only diplomas or associate’s degrees.
Applicants to nurse anesthesia programs must first be licensed registered nurses (RN) and have at least one year of clinical experience. The RN must then complete an accredited APRN program with a concentration in nurse anesthetist. A nursing program includes classroom work and also clinical experiences.
Upon completion of the program, the candidate must obtain certification by passing a national certification examination. Certification and licensure requirements vary by state, so graduates should check with their state’s licensing board. A certified nurse anesthetist may also choose to earn a doctorate degree. And as per the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), in 2025, a doctoral degree will be the minimum education requirement for entry level positions.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist
The job outlook in the nursing field and for CRNAs is very positive. BLS projected job growth of CRNAs is much faster than the average for all occupations. A growing elderly population and advances in medical technology are creating an increased demand for anesthesia care. And this demand translates to more job opportunities for CRNAs.
Furthermore, the BLS expects Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists’ employment to grow by 12 percent between 2021 and 2031. This potential growth means that career opportunities should benefit these healthcare professionals. In addition to having exciting work, these nurses can also expect very good salaries to go along with numerous career options.
Salary Potential for a Certified Nurse Anesthetist
CRNAs make some of the highest salaries in the nursing profession. Individual salaries vary based on multiple factors, including years of experience, job description, and education. Geographic location and employer are other factors. Most nurses earn a good salary. But, the salary increase from a registered nurse to an APRN can be so substantial that many RNs feel it’s more than worth the extra time and money to obtain the additional education.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average nurse anesthetist salary is $195,610. The lowest 10 percent earn about $131,840, while those in the top 90 percent have wages over $208,000 (BLS).
Highest Paying Work Settings for CRNAs
CRNAs typically work in a medical setting. Hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, pain management clinics, and other healthcare settings are some of the most common employers. They may also work in doctor’s offices, dental offices, and other healthcare facilities. However, some industries pay more than others.
What are the top paying industries for a Certified Nurse Anesthetist? The work setting or industry where a certified nurse anesthetist can earn the highest wages is outpatient care centers. Below are the top-paying industries for CRNA salaries with the average annual salary.
|Nursing Practice Industry||Annual Wage|
|Outpatient Care Centers||$254,180|
|General Medical and Surgical Hospitals||$212,340|
|Colleges, Universities, and Professional Schools||$200,340|
CRNA Salary by State
Different locations mean different salaries. The salary potential for nurse anesthetists can fluctuate significantly from one state to another or even from one city to the next. For example, nurses working in South Carolina, New Mexico, or South Dakota typically earn less than nurses in the District of Columbia, Rhode Island, or New York.
Location is probably the biggest factor affecting wages. Here are the five top-paying states where nurse anesthetists earn the highest salaries.
|State||Annual Mean Wage|
Nurse Anesthetist Salary by Nonmetropolitan Area
Advanced Practice RNs are some of the most important healthcare providers in rural hospitals throughout the United States. Nurses that work in these rural areas can still earn a top salary. Below are the top-paying nonmetropolitan areas for a Certifed Nurse Anesthetist.
|Nonmetropolitan Area||Average Salaries|
|Mountain North Carolina||$310,100|
|Northern West Virginia||$275,160|
|Capital/Northern New York||$261,730|
|West Central Illinois||$255,700|
How Can You Increase Your Certified Nurse Anesthetist Salary?
Earning an advanced certification in anesthesia can increase your nurse anesthetist’s salary. This can be done through the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists or other professional organizations. Advanced certification in anesthesia is a post-graduate training program that provides advanced knowledge and skills in the field of anesthesia.
The program typically includes advanced coursework, clinical rotations, and a comprehensive examination. Graduates can receive additional certifications in specialized areas such as pediatric anesthesia, obstetric anesthesia, or critical care anesthesia.
Pursue Continuing Education:
Continuing education courses can help you stay up-to-date on the latest advancements in anesthesia and can increase your salary.
Negotiating your salary with your employer is an effective way to increase your salary. When negotiating, it is important to research the market rate or average pay for your dream job so you can back up your ask with facts.
Consider the current economic conditions and other benefits such as vacation time, flexible hours, or a signing bonus. Make sure you remember to discuss the value you bring to the company with your skills and experience.
Join Professional Organizations:
Becoming a member of a professional organization can help you network and increase your salary. See the list below.
Take on Additional Responsibilities:
Adding responsibilities to your job description can demonstrate value to your employer and can help increase your salary.
RN Salary vs CRNA Salary
The salary of a Registered Nurse (RN) is typically lower than that of a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). An average salary of an RN is around $73,000 per year, while the median salary of a CRNA is around $174,000. The difference in the national average is due to the additional training and experience required to become a CRNA.
|Nurse Role||Median Annual Salary|
|Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)||$48,070|
|Registered Nurses (RNs)||$77,600|
|Nurse Practitioners (NPs)||$120,680|
|Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs)||$195,610|
Is the Cost of CRNA School Worth It?
Yes, the cost of CRNA school is worth it. Although the tuition for CRNA school can be quite expensive, the long-term benefits of becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) can far outweigh the cost. CRNAs are highly paid, respected, and in demand in healthcare settings.
With the right training and education, CRNAs can provide safe, quality care and earn a good income. Additionally, the cost of CRNA school can be offset by scholarships and loan programs. For those considering a career in nursing anesthesia, the cost of CRNA school may be worth the investment.
CRNA Professional Organizations
- American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA)
- National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA)
- American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA)
- Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN)
- National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Anesthesia (NAPNA)
- American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN)
- National Organization of Nurse Anesthetist Educators (NONE)
- International Federation of Nurse Anesthetists (IFNA)
Your Certified Nurse Anesthetist Career Path
Becoming a CRNA is not easy. However, the labor statistics BLS reports it is among the highest paid nursing careers. Salaries vary depending on different settings and locations. Nurses need to pass and exam to a become certified anesthetist. But it is worth it since these nurses have some of the highest levels of job satisfaction in healthcare!
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