Certified Registered Nurse AnesthetistJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

Certified registered nurse anesthetists are advanced registered nurses with graduate-level degrees that provide anesthetics to patients in surgeries and other medical procedures. Registered nurses in this position will need good communication and problem-solving skills to work efficiently with other doctors and medical personnel. 

Certified registered nurse anesthetists are responsible for providing pain medication before, during, and after surgery. To succeed in this position, certified registered nurse anesthetists need to have an advanced understanding of pharmacology and physiology to be able to safely administer anesthesia. 

This career path is deemed to be very rewarding with higher compensation and more independent thinking when emergencies arise. Certified registered nurse anesthetists may sub-specialize in pediatrics, dental, plastic surgery, critical care, obstetric, or pain management, allowing workers to focus on areas they’re more passionate about.

Sample job description

The CRNA position is a vital role in our team and in the safety and health of our patients. Accuracy and focus is a must, as is a team spirit as we all work together for the well-being of our trusting patients. A great attitude is needed for a positive patient and work experience. Dedication to your role and continuing education will be needed in order to stay up to date with the changes in medical practices due to constant medical studies and breakthroughs. Ideal CRNA candidates will have previous experience working in a fast-paced environment with patients of all ages and genders.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Perform patient pre-, intra-, and post-anesthetic assessments
  • Inform patients of the anesthetic process, surgery, and recovery
  • Administer medication and anesthetic agents
  • Intra-surgery monitoring and adjustment of medications as needed
  • Monitoring and assisting in the recovery of the patient
  • Following the patients’ anesthetic program based on pre-, intra-, and post-anesthesia assessments
  • Input accurate information of the anesthetic process for each patient’s medical records
  • Inform and obtain consent from patients of the anesthetic program

Education and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in nursing or related field
  • Registered nurse licensure
  • Must be a certified registered nurse anesthetist
  • Advanced practice registered nursing degree (diploma) must be presented at the time of hire

Required skills and qualifications

  • Appropriate bedside manner
  • Medical record keeping skills 
  • Experience working with a team in a high-stress situation
  • Proper knowledge of epidural placement 
  • Working knowledge of a computer 
  • Extensification and blood administration 
  • Experience with administration of inhaled anesthesia 
  • National RCNA Certification
  • Recent CPR Certification
  • Outstanding verbal and written communication skills
  • Exceptional motor skills

Preferred qualifications

  • Five years experience administering anesthesia
  • Experience in a hospital’s operating room
  • Performs in an independent manner 
  • Ability to maintain a flexible schedule based on each week’s surgeries

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for a CRNA is $165,000 annually. This will vary based on your location. Work experience and education level can also cause some variance in annual salary.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$173,745$212,355
Los Angeles, California$196,020$239,580
Denver, Colorado$163,350$199,650
Washington, DC$198,990$243,210
Miami, Florida$162,608$198,743
Orlando, Florida$149,985$183,315
Tampa, Florida$151,470$185,130
Atlanta, Georgia$158,895$194,205
Chicago, Illinois$182,655$223,245
Boston, Massachusetts$197,505$241,395
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$157,410$192,390
New York City, New York$207,900$254,100
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$169,290$206,910
Dallas, Texas$164,835$201,465
Houston, Texas$164,093$200,558
Seattle, Washington$190,080$232,320

Typical work environment

Certified registered nurse anesthetists work in surgical clinics, hospitals, doctors’ offices, psychiatric institutions, the military, emergency rooms, dental offices, ophthalmologist clinics, podiatrist clinics, outpatient care centers, and respiratory therapy departments. It’s a physically active job position. Certified registered nurse anesthetists frequently communicate with team members. 

Typical hours

Certified registered nurse anesthetists may work full time or part time. The hours depend on the setting and practice, but for the most part, CRNAs will work more than 40 hours a week. Some settings may work 8 to 12 hour shifts, but 24 hour shifts are also common. This will require working on weekends and holidays as well.

Available certifications

Nurses who strive to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist need to be both licensed and have practice as a registered nurse in the United States. Then, you need to be certified as a CRNA through the National Board of Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). Furthermore, you will then need to apply for state licensure as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) and have completed an accredited nurse anesthesia program. CRNAs will need to keep their certification and license in good standing. You will need to renew your CRNA certification every two years through the NBCRNA.

Career path

The first step in becoming a CRNA is to become a registered nurse by completing an approved nursing program and obtaining an RN license. You will also need to obtain a master’s degree from an approved MSN program with a CRNA program. It is possible to become an RN with only an associate’s degree, but a CRNA must obtain a BSN and master’s to qualify. By 2025, you may also need a doctorate’s degree to enter the field as a CRNA.

There are options for students who have already completed their bachelor’s degree in a different subject as well as those who are already an RN but have not completed their BSN. A current RN can return to school to complete an RN to BSN program that will qualify them for the next step in the CRNA career path. 

Similarly, those who already have their bachelor’s degree in a different field can obtain their BSN through an accelerated program that is created to develop a professional understanding of nursing practices in a much shorter time (only 20 months). After completing your BSN, you are eligible for the NCLEX exam. Passing this exam qualifies you to become licensed in your state for practicing as a registered nurse. Once you have developed adequate skills and acquired enough experience, you will be able to apply for a nurse anesthesia program in order to earn your master’s degree. Upon completion of this program, you will be able to become a CRNA.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 29-1151

2020 Employment44,200
Projected Employment in 203049,800
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 13% increase
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift5,600 increase

CRNA positions will continue to be necessary as they have been since anesthesia was approved for medical use. CRNAs will be an important part of physicians’ offices, general medical and surgical hospitals, outpatient care centers, other health practitioner offices, and colleges for the foreseeable future. There will seemingly always be a need for nurse anesthetists to administer anesthesia medications, manage patient health and reactions to said medications, and aid in the patient recovery process.

Sample interview questions

  • What is your reason for wanting to become a CRNA?
  • Where did you previously work? Have you worked in high-pressure areas, like in an ICU? If so, what was your experience in the ICU?
  • How do you handle critical situations?
  • How do you manage monitoring the patient during surgery?
  • Why do you want to be in this field of work?
  • What was your most difficult case?
  • What are your most important achievements as a nurse?
  • Which anesthesia agents are you most familiar with?
  • Have you worked with adults and children, or just one or the other?
  • Why are you switching hospitals or departments?  

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