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How To Become A Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

What is a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), how can you become one, and how much money do they make?

If you want a profession with a lot of responsibility and a high salary, as well as one that will train you for a highly-specific and demanding role, CRNA could be ideal.

What is a CRNA?

A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is a type of advanced practice registered nurse trained in the administration of anesthesia.

They administer anesthesia before surgery and during labor and can also assist with emergency procedures and pain management.

The profession became prominent during the American Civil War. Nurses were tasked with administering anesthesia to wounded soldiers as a means of pain management and to knock them out before surgery. The substances, methods, and processes have advanced a lot over the years, but nurse anesthetists continue to play an important role.

Where Do Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists Work?

CRNAs work in a variety of healthcare settings, including:

  • Medical Hospitals
  • Surgical Hospitals
  • Outpatient Care Centers
  • Offices of Plastic Surgeons And Doctors
  • Offices of Pain Management Specialists
  • Military Facilities

Nurse anesthetists work wherever surgery is performed and advanced pain management is required.

How Long Is Nurse Anesthetist School?

A nurse anesthetist program usually takes between 2 and 3 years to complete, but this is dependent on the school and type of program. It also follows extensive schooling and certification requirements.

In total, it could take you up to 8 years to qualify as a certified registered nurse anesthetist. There are no easy ways to fast-track this process, but choosing the right nurse anesthesia programs and studying full-time will get you there as quickly as possible.

Take a look at our full guide below for more information.

Is An Anesthesiologist The Same As A CRNA?

Nurse anesthetists are the same as certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), but they are different from anesthesiologists.

The main difference between anesthesiologists and CRNAs is that the latter are nurses while the former are physicians.

Both are highly trained professionals skilled in administering anesthesia, and patients can rely on them both to provide the highest possible care. However, anesthesiologists are trained doctors and as such, they have trained as doctors and can expect to be paid a higher salary.

How Can I Become A CRNA Fast?

It takes a lot of study and practical experience to qualify as a CRNA. It makes sense when you consider the amount of responsibility that CRNAs have.

Studying full-time will get you there as soon as possible, but you can still expect to wait 8 years or so and there are no fast-track programs.

What Are The Steps To Becoming A CRNA?

If you have decided that the role of a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) is right for you, the following steps will guide you on your educational journey.

Step One: Complete the Prerequisites

Check out the nursing schools in your area and pay attention to the requirements.

Nursing schools are getting very competitive and accept only the best students. Most schools require above-average grades in subjects such as English, math, and science, and they may also request additional qualifications/experience in relevant subjects.

Step Two: Find the Right Nursing Program

Most nurses begin their careers with an associate's degree in nursing (ADN). It takes roughly two years to complete and is required for most high-paying nursing professions.

There are ADNs available at colleges and community colleges throughout the United States.

If you decide that you're ready to start working after your ADN, you can advance to a part-time bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN).

Step Three: Qualify as a Registered Nurse

After completing your BSN degree, you must sit the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become a registered nurse.

Step Four: Gain Some Experience

Nurse anesthetists must have at least 1 year of experience in a relevant field, including intensive care units (ICUs) and emergency rooms (ER).

This exposure will teach you some of the essentials of the nursing practice and prepare you for your role as a nurse anesthetist.

Step Five: Complete An Accredited Nurse Anesthetist Program

Nurse anesthesia educational programs are very demanding and require between 2 and 3 years of intensive study.

Online nurse anesthesia programs don't qualify and the strict requirements and demanding schedules mean students can't take part-time jobs at the same time.

Step Six: Become Certified

The next step is to pass the National Certification Examination (NCE), which is administered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA).

The majority of students pass this exam on their first attempt.

After completing the exam and earning your certification, you must recertify every 4 years through the Continued Professional Certification (CPC) Program.

Step Seven: Start Your Career as a Nurse Anesthetist

You are now ready for a career as a nurse anesthetist and can start looking for work.

Certified registered nurse anesthetists are some of the highest-paid individuals in the nursing profession and work in a variety of settings. Once you pass the CRNA certification exam, you can look forward to a lucrative and rewarding career.

How Much Does a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Make?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nurse anesthetists make an average of $117,670 per year. But this applies across the entire country and for all experience levels. In some states, experienced CRNAs earn in excess of $200,000, making it one of the most lucrative specialties in the nursing profession.

See below for a full list of CRNA salaries across the USA, with annual and hourly salaries provided by the BLS:

StatePer HourSalary
District of ColumbiaN/AN/A
New Hampshire$94.99$197,570
New Jersey$99.76$207,500
New Mexico$79.32$164,980
New York$104.35$217,050
North Carolina$92.33$192,830
North Dakota$93.76$192,050
Puerto Rico$26.56$55,250
South Carolina$89.35$185,850
South Dakota$91.66$190,660
West Virginia$90.11$187,430

Summary: Becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

According to US News and World Report, nurse anesthetist is one of the best jobs in the United States. It was ranked 8th on the list of healthcare jobs, 10th for STEM jobs, and 19th out of 100 for best overall jobs.

Most of this positioning was down to the high salary, as well as the future growth prospects, but there's a lot to like about this profession and it's one that ambitious nursing students should consider.

find nursing schools near you

find nursing schools near you