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At a Glance

  • Monitor patients during surgical procedures
  • Wear a uniform and safety gear
  • Need about ten years of study and training after high school
  • May work days, nights, or weekends and be on call
  • Have a state medical license

Career summary

Anesthesiologists are doctors who give patients drugs to relieve pain or put them to sleep during medical procedures.

#No alternate titles

#4/10/19 lh

Anesthesiologists meet with the patient and examine them. They talk with each patient and read the medical chart to find out if the patient has an allergy to medication. They discuss possible risks, listen to patient concerns, and answer questions.

They also talk with other members of the medical team. After consulting with the patient and other doctors, anesthesiologists decide which methods and medicines to use.

Anesthesiologists can administer the drugs a variety of ways including:

During the procedure, anesthesiologists monitor the patient's temperature, pulse, heart, and breathing rates. They watch for reactions to the drugs. If there are problems they change the medication or dosage. When the procedure is over, anesthesiologists decide when the patient goes to the recovery room.

Anesthesiologists record the types and amounts of medicines they give. They also supervise nurses and operating room assistants. These assistants check vital signs and monitor the medications and patients.

Some anesthesiologists teach medical students who are interns or residents. They may also do research in pain management and publish their findings.

Related careers

This career is part of the Health Science cluster of careers.

Related careers include:

Military careers

Job duties

Task list

The following list of tasks is specific to anesthesiologists.

Common work activities

Anesthesiologists perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, anesthesiologists:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Anesthesiologists frequently:

It is important for anesthesiologists to be able to:

It is not as important, but still necessary, for anesthesiologists to be able to:

Skills and abilities

Anesthesiologists need to:


Reason and problem solve

Use math and science

Manage oneself, people, time, and things

Work with people

Work with things

Perceive and visualize

Education and training

Educational programs

The programs of study listed below will help you prepare for the occupation or career cluster you are exploring.

Programs of study directly related to this occupation

Other programs of study to consider


To work as an anesthesiologist, you typically need to:

Education after high school

To become a licensed doctor, you must complete medical school. Medical schools grant a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DOM) degree. You spend the first two years of medical school in classrooms and laboratories. You study anatomy, biochemistry, and medicines. You also learn how to take a medical history, examine patients, and make a diagnosis. During the next two years, you work in hospitals and clinics under the supervision of experienced physicians.

Entry into medical school is competitive. You should apply to several schools.

Most students who apply to medical school have a bachelor's degree. A pre-medicine or science major is good preparation. If you earn a liberal arts degree, be sure to take several courses in physics, biology, and chemistry.

On-the-job training

While in medical school, you spend two years working as an intern in a hospital or clinic. As an intern, you rotate through different medical specialties. These include internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics, oncology, and other hospital departments.

After medical school, you must complete a four-year residency program in anesthesia. You receive wages while you are a resident. After completing your residency, you take additional exams in anesthesiology to become board certified.

Military training

The military provides advanced training for anesthesiologists. However, it does not provide the initial training to become a doctor. Scholarships for advanced medical training are available in return for a required period of military service.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum (external link) may be different from your state's graduation requirements (external link). You need a very strong background in math and science to become a doctor. Take as many math and science courses as you can.

You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.

Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this career include:

The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.

You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.

Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career. Here are examples of activities and groups (PDF file) that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers require anesthesiologists to be licensed to practice medicine. They must also have a certificate to work in anesthesiology. Many are hired by the hospital where they work during the residency years. Others begin working in a group practice.

Costs to workers

Anesthesiologists who have borrowed money to pay school expenses have large debt payments for the first few years after graduation. The average debt for medical students who graduated in 2017 was $190,694 with 83% percent owing at least $100,000. Malpractice insurance is expensive.

#http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/pub/about-ama/our-people/member-groups-sections/medical-student-section/advocacy-policy/medical-student-debt/background.shtml (external link)

#Checked AMA website 2/6/12 - no 2011 student debt figures yet. Updated to mean 2013 graduate debt info from debt factor card at aamc.org 2/4/14, cj. Updated from latest debt fact card & debt info 2/2/16 cj. Updated from new 2017 debt fact card 1/31/18, cj https://members.aamc.org/iweb/upload/2017%20Debt%20Fact%20Card.pdf (external link) (PDF file)


Anesthesiologists must be licensed by the State of Washington as either medical or osteopathic doctors. Licensing requirements include:

For more information on the US Medical Licensing Exam, call 215.590.9500 or go to the National Board of Medical Examiners (external link) website.

Osteopathic doctors must complete 150 hours of continuing education every three years and medical doctors must complete 200 hours of continuing education every four years.

Licensing fees vary ranging from $491 (medical physicians) to $391 (osteopathic physicians) for the application. The annual renewal fee for osteopathic physicians is $441 and the biannual renewal fee for medical physicians is $657. The combined fee for an application and state exam for osteopathic practitioners is $516. The licensing and the renewal fees generally include an access fee for health-related online library journals and publications and a Washington physician health program surcharge.

For more information on medical doctors, contact:

Washington Medical Commission (external link)
PO Box 47866
Olympia, WA 98504-7866

For information on osteopathic doctors, contact:

Washington State Board of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery (external link)
PO Box 47877
Olympia, WA 98504-7865

# 1/31/18, cj.

Job listings

Listed below are links to job categories from the National Labor Exchange that relate to this career. Once you get a list of jobs, you can view information about individual jobs and find out how to apply. If your job search finds too many openings, or if you wish to search for jobs outside of Washington, you will need to refine your search.

To get a listing of current jobs from the WorkSource system, go to the WorkSource website (external link).


Anesthesiologists (SOC 29-1061)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $67.53 (1) (1) (1) (1)
Monthly $11,703 (1) (1) (1) (1)
Yearly $140,470 (1) (1) (1) (1)
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $45.54 (2) (2) (2) (2)
Monthly $7,892 (2) (2) (2) (2)
Yearly $94,714 (2) (2) (2) (2)
    Vancouver Hourly (2) (2) (2) (2) (2)
Monthly (2) (2) (2) (2) (2)
Yearly (2) (2) (2) (2) (2)
United States Hourly $63.98 (1) (1) (1) (1)
Monthly $11,088 (1) (1) (1) (1)
Yearly $133,080 (1) (1) (1) (1)

(1) Wages are greater than $90/hour or $187,200/year.
(2) Wage estimate is not available.

Wages vary by years of experience, area of the country, and hours worked. The doctor's skill, personality, and professional reputation also affect wages. Self-employed anesthesiologists generally earn more than those who are not self-employed.

Anesthesiologists usually receive benefits. Typical benefits include sick leave, paid vacation, health insurance, and a retirement plan. 

Employment and outlook

Washington outlook

The table below provides information about the number of workers in this career in various regions. It also provides information about the expected growth rate and future job openings.

Anesthesiologists (SOC 29-1061)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 707 19.7% 16.1% 48
    Asotin, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield, Lincoln, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Walla Walla, and Whitman Counties 12 25.0% 8.6% 1
    Benton and Franklin Counties 74 23.0% 15.0% 5
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 78 19.2% 15.2% 5
    King County 452 18.6% 19.6% 29
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 44 15.9% 13.8% 3
    Pierce County 15 26.7% 15.2% 1
United States 34,500 4.3% 5.2% 1,200

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Much of the demand for anesthesiologists will be the result of a population that is both growing and aging. As the population grows, the number of surgical procedures will increase. In addition, elderly people are more likely than younger people to need surgery.

Other resources

American Academy of Anesthesiologists Assistants (external link)
1231 Collier Road NW
Suite J
Atlanta, GA 30318
American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (external link)
5550 Friendship Boulevard, Suite 310
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
American Medical Association (external link)
American Medical Association - Medical Student Section (external link)
American Osteopathic Association (external link)
142 East Ontario Street
Chicago, IL 60611
American Society of Anesthesiologists (external link)
1061 American Lane
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Aspiring Docs Website from the American Association of Medical Colleges (external link)
Interview with a Pediatric Anesthesiologist (external link)
BLS Outlook, November 2017
The American Board of Anesthesiology (external link)
4208 Six Forks Road, Suite 1500
Raleigh, NC 27609
The Student Doctor Network (external link)
Washington Osteopathic Medical Association (external link)
PO Box 1187
Gig Harbor, WA 98335
Washington State Medical Association (external link)
2001 Sixth Avenue, Suite 2700
Seattle, WA 98121


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