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Nurse Anesthetists

At a Glance

  • Administer anesthesia to patients undergoing surgical procedures
  • Monitor patients during anesthesia
  • Have a master's degree
  • Can become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Career summary

Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia to patients before and during surgery. They care for and monitor patients during and after the surgical procedure.

Nurse anesthetists are registered nurses trained to administer anesthesia. They work in a variety of settings including:

Nurse anesthetists meet with patients to obtain and review medical histories. They review the results of medical tests such as x-rays or EKGs (electrocardiograms) to obtain pertinent information about the patient's health. This helps them develop anesthesia care plans.

Prior to procedures, they prepare patients and administer the anesthesia. During procedures, they manage the breathing of patients using a variety of medical techniques and equipment. They look at pupils, skin color, pulse, blood pressure, and respiration to make sure the patient is doing well.

In some situations, an emergency may arise and nurse anesthetists must act fast. They may have to open patient airways and administer fluids and necessary drugs very quickly. They may also have to insert catheters.

After the procedure is completed, the nurse anesthetists monitor patients' recovery. They give drugs or medicines to lessen any ill effects, such as nausea.

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 nurse anesthetists.

Common work activities

Nurse anesthetists perform the following tasks. These tasks are common to many careers.

Work requirements

Working conditions

In a typical work setting, nurse anesthetists:

Interpersonal relationships

Physical work conditions

Work performance


Physical demands

Nurse anesthetists frequently:

It is important for nurse anesthetists to be able to:

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

Skills and abilities

Nurse anesthetists 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 a nurse anesthetist, you typically need to:

Education after high school

To become a nurse anesthetist, first you must become a registered nurse. After working for at least a year in adult critical care, you attend a two-year master's program in nurse anesthesia. In these programs, you take courses in advanced physiology, anatomy, biology, and chemistry. You also take applied courses in pharmacology and anesthesia practices.

All nurse anesthetist programs require you to participate in a clinical residency. This means that you work and study in hospitals and medical centers under the supervision of nurse anesthetists and professors. Students continue learning about the principles of anesthesia through observation. At the same time, they practice the skills and techniques of administering anesthesia and patient care.

Work experience

Working as a registered nurse for several years is very good training before you begin your graduate program.

On-the-job training

New nurse anesthetists generally receive some training on the job. Training varies by employer.

Military training

Some branches of the military offer training in nursing specialties to people who are already licensed as a registered nurse. Training lasts 14 to 27 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.

Helpful high school courses

In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements.

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 that may be available in your high school or community.

Things to know

Employers seek applicants with good bedside skills and the ability to make good decisions quickly. They also seek applicants with strong clinical skills. In addition, employers find candidates with their certification in nurse anesthesia very desirable.

Costs to workers

Many nurse anesthetists join professional associations and pay annual dues. Most pay for malpractice insurance. Additional expenses include continuing education classes to keep informed of changes in the nursing field.


Nurse anesthetists must be licensed by the Washington State Board of Nursing.

General licensing requirements include:

For license renewal, nurse anesthetists must complete 30 hours of continuing education within their specialty every two years and be involved in active practice.

For more information, contact:

Washington State Department of Health
Health Systems Quality Assurance
Customer Service Center (external link)

PO Box 47864
Olympia, WA 98504



Nurse anesthetists (SOC 29-1151)

Pay Period
Washington Hourly $67.59 $79.94 $89.42 $99.14 (1)
Monthly $11,713 $13,854 $15,496 $17,181 (1)
Yearly $140,590 $166,270 $186,000 $206,210 (1)
    Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Hourly $65.30 $80.04 $88.87 $97.99 (2)
Monthly $11,316 $13,871 $15,401 $16,982 (2)
Yearly $135,814 $166,488 $184,848 $203,822 (2)
    Vancouver Hourly $68.13 $75.21 $87.37 (2) (2)
Monthly $11,807 $13,034 $15,141 (2) (2)
Yearly $141,699 $156,440 $181,725 (2) (2)
United States Hourly $56.16 $69.17 $80.75 $95.42 (1)
Monthly $9,733 $11,987 $13,994 $16,536 (1)
Yearly $116,820 $143,870 $167,950 $198,470 (1)

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

Pay varies by employer, area of the country, and the worker's level of experience.

Nurse anesthetists who work full time may receive benefits. Typical benefits include health insurance, sick leave, and paid vacation.

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.

Nurse anesthetists (SOC 29-1151)

Location Current employment Growth over 10 years Annual openings
Washington 753 21.8% 16.1% 71
    Adams, Chelan, Douglas, Grant, and Okanogan Counties 16 25.0% 13.4% 1
    Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties 64 20.3% 15.2% 6
    Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pacific, and Thurston Counties 15 20.0% 14.1% 1
    Island, San Juan, Skagit, and Whatcom Counties 35 22.9% 14.6% 3
    King County 430 22.1% 19.6% 41
    Kittitas, Klickitat, Skamania, and Yakima Counties 25 8.0% 13.8% 1
    Pierce County 35 28.6% 15.2% 4
    Snohomish County 13 23.1% 12.4% 1
    Spokane County 116 20.7% 13.9% 10
United States 45,000 17.1% 5.2% 3,200

National employment

Major employers:

National outlook

Demand for this occupation is very strong. Growth is expected as the aging population gets larger and the number of medical procedures increases. New federal health insurance laws also create more need for health care services.

Jobs for nurse anesthetists is expected to grow the most in hospitals and medical offices where patients go for day surgery.

Other resources

American Academy of Anesthesiologists Assistants (external link)
1231 Collier Road NW
Suite J
Atlanta, GA 30318
American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (external link)
222 South Prospect Avenue
Park Ridge, IL 60068
American Nurses Association (external link)
8515 Georgia Avenue, Suite 400
Silver Spring, MD 20910
American Society of Anesthesiologists (external link)
1061 American Lane
Schaumburg, IL 60173
Explore Health Careers: Nurse Anesthetist (external link)
National Board on Certification & Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists (external link)
8725 West Higgins Road, Suite 525
Chicago, IL 60631
Nursing (external link)
From Johnson & Johnson


Career cluster

Career path

O*Net (external link) occupation

O*Net job zone (external link)

DOT occupation

Holland occupational cluster