How to become a nurse anesthetist? | the best career option in 2023


Practicing anesthesia is a recognized medical specialty in the profession of nursing. Nursing students and registered nurses often set a long-term goal of becoming certified registered nurse anesthetist because nurse anesthetists are highly respected and highly paid nurses. Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNA) are advanced practice nurses who safely provide anesthesia before and after surgical treatments to ease the process for patients and surgeons.

A certified registered nurse anesthetist administers anesthesia and monitors the patient’s body response to anesthesia. In some states, CRNA works in complete autonomy, while in others, they work in coordination with medical officers, surgeons, anesthesiologists, dentists, physicians, and other medical staff. To start working as a certified registered nurse anesthetist in hospitals and clinics, one must have the required education, skills, and experience. 

what does a nurse anesthetist do?

The primary function of the nurse anesthetists is to make any medical procedure pain-free for the patients. Anesthesia is a type of medicine that blocks the sensory pathways of pain and make patient numb for some time. The type of anesthesia given by nurse anesthetists depends on the type of medical procedure. There are three types of anesthesia administered by CRNA:

  • General anesthesia is given via the respiratory system in respiratory droplet form or via the circulatory system in intravenous injection form. General anesthesia makes the patients fall asleep, so they don’t feel pain. 
  • Local anesthesia is mainly in cream or lotion form applied to the region where the surgery will be performed. Local anesthesia makes only the specific part of the body numb so that patient feels no pain during the procedure. 
  • Sedation makes the patient feel relaxed and drowsy so that the pressure and anxiousness of the surgery do not disturb the patient. Sometimes certified registered nurse anesthetist gives deep sedation to put the patient in a deep sleep. 

Before the surgical procedure starts, a certified registered nurse anesthetist educate the patient about the importance of anesthesia, the type of anesthesia required, and the risks of taking anesthesia. After this, the nurse should ask about the medical history and check whether the patient can take anesthesia. Moreover, CRNA must notice the allergies and overdoses of anesthesia.

Right before the administration of anesthesia certified registered nurse anesthetist should thoroughly check the patient’s vitals, including temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate. The nurse anesthetist continues to adjust the amount of anesthesia throughout the procedure; after the procedure, the nurse stops the anesthesia and measures the time of recovery from anesthesia.

how much does a nurse anesthetist make around the world?

how much does a nurse anesthetist make

Among all the various types of registered nurses, the highly paid are certified, registered nurse anesthetist. According to 2020 data from the Bureau of labor statistics, CRNA earns an average salary of $189,190 per year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top 10% of nurse anesthetists make more than $200,000 per year. Different countries offer different salary packages to nurse anesthetists. It depends on many factors, including skills, education, and working experience.

  • In UK – £181,180 per year 
  • In USA – $189,190 per year 
  • In Australia- AUD 218,362 per year 
  • In New Zealand – $209,484 per year 
  • In Dubai – AED 525,246 per year
  • In Canada – $179,723 per year 

How to become a nurse anesthetist?

The rewards of being a certified registered nurse anesthetist are incredible, and like anything worth having, it requires a lot of effort and hard work. A significant amount of dedication and commitment is needed to become a nurse anesthetist. Following are some steps one should complete to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist:

Step 1: Complete Bachelors in nursing

Several pathways lead towards becoming a registered nurse, but the one which provides most of the knowledge and career opportunities is a bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This is the fastest method covering all the major subjects, including pharmacology, anatomy, physiology, and pathology of the human body. This degree program completes in four years that provides foundational knowledge to every nurse student. 

This program includes clinical rotation in different hospital departments, which allows the student to learn and explore methods of care. Keep in mind, while doing the bachelor’s, the academic achievements will reward you with better career opportunities. Your acceptance as a certified registered nurse anesthetist highly depends on your grades. 

Step 2: Get licensed as a registered nurse.

After completing BSN, you will be eligible to appear in the exam required to become a registered nurse. Once you successfully pass the examination, you will be officially called a registered nurse (RN). This test is called an apptitude test for eg. 

Every state has different processes and requirements for the registration of a nurse. Make sure you know the rules and conditions of your state to successfully appear and pass the examination and become a registered nurse. 

Step 3: Get experience by working as a registered nurse.

The Bachelor of Science in nursing allows the student to explore different departments and enhance their clinical knowledge. In addition, anesthesia programs for nurses prefer students who have good clinical experience in various departments. The expertise required for the anesthesia program is specifically related to the intensive care unit. 

The registered nurse must work for at least one year in the intensive care unit with adult patients to become eligible for the nurse anesthetist. To increase the chances and your working experience regarding nurse anesthetists, you should work under the shadow of a certified registered nurse anesthetist. This will also give you an idea about the future opportunities as a nurse anesthetist. 

Step 4: Enroll in the Nurse Anesthesia Program

The need for a nurse anesthetist is growing day by day, and so the competition for the limited number of seats in the Nurse anesthesia program. Getting accepted into any nurse anesthesia program required a commitment to the field of nursing and the study of nursing. Every program has its unique requirements, but some common ones are listed below: 

  • Two years of working experience as a registered nurse 
  • One year of working experience in the intensive care unit 
  • A valid license of a registered nurse 
  • A bachelor in Science of nursing degree 
  • Good communication skills 

Step 5: Attend an accredited nurse anesthesia program

The accredited nurse anesthesia programs have been increasing day and day for the past few years. These programs moved the education system towards the five or six-year doctoral degree program rather than a master’s degree after four years of graduation. Regardless of the program you choose, you will receive your degree between two to three years and provide excellent clinical practice. 

Step 6: Take National certification examination for nurse anesthetist

The last step for officially becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist is passing the National Certification Examination (NCE). This test is three to four hours long, and it accesses the knowledge and skills of the nurse anesthetist. Once you pass the exam and become a certified registered nurse anesthetist, you must maintain the certification. This involves recertifying after every four years and retaking the test every eight years.

How long does it take to become a nurse anesthetist?

The duration required to become a nurse anesthetist dramatically depends on your efficiency and intelligence. If you pass a test in one attempt, it takes less time compared to two or more two attempts. On average certified registered nurse anesthetist takes seven to ten years of your life. Following is the division of time according to per program or test:

  • Bachelors of Science in nursing requires four years 
  • Working experience as a registered nurse requires 1-3 years 
  • Attending an accredited nurse anesthesia program requires 2-3 years 
  • After passing the certification exam, you become licensed in your state 

Nurse anesthetist requirements

  • The first and foremost requirement for a certified registered nurse anesthetist is time. You must have time to complete the whole process. 
  • The next requirement is the degree of bachelor in nursing 
  • Then, registered nurse licensure 
  • Minimum one year of acute care experience that helps to develop skills in the nurse. When a nurse passes through every passive situation in the intensive care unit, it develops skills to handle every situation. 
  • Graduate degree in nursing (MSN)
  • CRNA certification 
  • State licensing 

Where can certified registered nurse anesthetist work?

Certified registered nurse anesthetists work in the healthcare setting with emergency rooms, intensive care rooms, and operation theaters. Most nurse anesthetists choose to work at the bedside. Still, there are a lot more career opportunities available for nurse anesthetists, including resource management, 

quality assurance, risk management, department meeting, and staff development. Moreover, the work environment of a typical CRNA includes 

  • Medical and surgical hospitals 
  • Mobile surgery centers
  • Outpatient care centers 
  • Nursing research facilities 
  • U.S military medical facilities 


Many student nurses and registered nurses want to become certified registered nurse anesthetists, but there are many challenging milestones in becoming CRNA. After successfully passing all the tests and examinations, you will be rewarded with excellent career opportunities and a secure future. It is the most highly paid nursing field and is well respected by the citizens. It requires unstoppable efforts of an average of 10 years in passing bachelors, gaining experience, graduation, and after that certification test. When you have the required knowledge and skills, you can shine as a certified registered nurse anesthetist. 

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