Nurse Anesthetist Jobs: 8 Specialties to Consider

Become a nurse anesthetist and command one of the highest salaries in healthcare. Explore popular nurse anesthetist jobs and specializations.

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by Meg Whitenton

Published August 15, 2022

Reviewed by Shrilekha Deshaies, MSN, CCRN, RN

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Nurse Anesthetist Jobs: 8 Specialties to Consider
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Nurse anesthetists can qualify for top jobs and high salaries in this specialty field. Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CNRAs) are a type of advanced practice registered nurse (APRN). They are responsible for administering anesthesia and pain management medications for surgeries, therapeutic, and diagnostic procedures.

CRNA careers suit professionals who stay calm under pressure and are naturally compassionate and communicative. Registered nurses may work toward a CRNA nursing career with additional experience and certification.

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Ready to start your journey?

How to Become a Nurse Anesthetist

First, aspiring nurse anesthetists should earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Typically, a BSN takes four years, but students with an associate degree or previous experience may graduate faster. Students must also pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become registered nurses (RNs).

RNs should accumulate experience in acute care nursing for at least one year before applying to a nurse anesthetist program. Though not always required, aspiring nurse anesthetists may gain a competitive edge by earning critical care registered nurse certification.

Next, experienced RNs must pursue a master's degree in nurse anesthesia, which is a type of advanced practice registered nursing. Most master's degrees take roughly two years to complete. Graduates must pass a national certification exam to obtain CRNA licensure. Beginning in 2025, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists will require CRNAs to hold a doctoral degree.

The following steps are required to become a nurse anesthetist:

8 Types of Nurse Anesthetist Specialities

Dental

Dental nurse anesthetists provide services for dental patients of all ages, varying from minimal sedation to general anesthesia. CRNAs with dental expertise may work in a dental practice in an office-based setting. Or, they may work in conjunction with an ambulatory services team in a hospital or healthcare facility where emergency dental services might be required.

Dental anesthetists must follow the anesthesia administration guidelines of the AANA and the American Dental Association, including variations for adults and pediatric dental anesthesia. Patients must sign an informed consent form. Dental CRNAs must monitor patients and document their practice.

Pediatrics

Pediatric anesthetists administer anesthesia and monitor the vital signs of children before, during, and after surgery. While large hospitals and urban facilities often employ both CRNAs and anesthesiologists specializing in pediatrics, CRNAs may be the sole providers of anesthesia in rural areas.

Pediatric anesthetists may also work in an office setting or specialize in critical care involving children. They often practice in conjunction with nurses, technicians, technologists, and doctors.

Cosmetic Surgery

CRNAs specializing in cosmetic surgery typically consult with patients before administering anesthesia during a cosmetic procedure. They may perform an assessment and discuss options for a variety of anesthetizing treatments. They also monitor patients for reactions to medications.

Most cosmetic surgery CRNAs work alongside cosmetic surgeons and a team of nurses, physicians' assistants, and technical staff in an office-based setting, such as a cosmetic surgery practice.

Obstetrics

Obstetric CRNAs provide anesthesia to mothers to help minimize pain during labor and delivery. They undergo the same training in critical care as other CRNAs to pursue certification but specialize in administering anesthesia that is safe for both mothers and their babies.

Epidurals are perhaps the most well-known medications provided by obstetric CRNAs. These professionals are also qualified to administer general, local, and regional sedation, and chronic pain management for childbirth pain.

Cardiovascular

Cardiovascular CRNAs provide anesthesia to patients undergoing procedures including heart transplants, cardiothoracic procedures, and operations involving heart valves or ventricles. They work closely with surgeons and surgical assistants to safely sedate patients while protecting the patient's vital organs.

In addition to CRNA certification, nurse anesthetists working in this specialty need basic life support and advanced cardiac life support certification through the American Heart Association.

Neurosurgery

Neurosurgery CRNAs administer anesthesia to patients undergoing procedures involving the central nervous system, including the brain or spine. These professionals may provide sedation or anesthesia before, during, and after surgeries including brain tumor removal, blood clot retrieval, or deep brain stimulator implantation.

Neurosurgery CRNAs often work alongside Board-certified anesthesiologists, neurosurgeons, and radiology specialists to develop a comprehensive sedation and follow-up treatment plan.

Podiatry

Podiatric CRNAs are authorized to provide anesthesia for procedures involving the foot and ankle. These professionals may work with podiatrists in providing sedation or pain management services for diagnostic, surgical, or ongoing physical therapy for podiatric conditions.

Some states require podiatric CRNAs to be supervised by a licensed physician or podiatrist while administering anesthesia. Other states do not allow podiatrists to give orders for anesthetic services and only recognize requests from MDs or DOs for podiatric anesthesia through a CRNA.

Trauma

CRNAs specializing in trauma often work exclusively in trauma centers or hospitals with dedicated trauma units. Trauma CRNAs may start their careers as trauma-certified RNs to build experience. Nurse anesthetists in this specialization can especially benefit from the acute care training required of all CNRAs to obtain certification.

Trauma CRNAs may perform a variety of duties as needed to assist emergency medical technicians and trauma surgeons in critical care settings. Tasks may include administering scaled sedation, assisting with intubation, and intraop anesthesia.

Nurse Anesthetist Salary

Nurse anesthetists are among the highest-paid healthcare practitioners. Entry-levelnurse anesthetist jobs can pay nearly $132,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). More experienced positions can draw nurse anesthetist salaries of more than $202,000.

Nurse anesthetists also enjoy faster-than-average job growth of 13% from 2020-2030, according to the BLS. Specialized experience of more than 10 years and additional certification in critical care may increase job prospects and earning potential.

How to Find a Nurse Anesthetist Job

Nurse anesthetists develop potential job connections throughout their clinical training. They may inquire at the hospital or healthcare facility where they completed their practicum about job opportunities once they earn CRNA licensure. Many colleges and universities emphasize career preparation and placement services for nursing candidates.

Professionals should seek out nurse anesthetist jobs in their preferred area of specialization. For example, nurse anesthetists may ask local pediatricians' offices, dental practices, or a hospital's critical care division if jobs are available.

Nurse anesthetists may join a professional organization for exclusive access to field jobs. Popular organizations include the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology and the American Nurses Association, both of which feature members-only job banks for advanced nurse practitioners.

Nurse Anesthetist Professional Organizations

Representing more than 59,000 nurse anesthetists nationwide, the AANA offers its members resources including a job board and career services. It also offers approved continuing education opportunities and impactful advocacy and policy updates. APSF promotes a culture of safety and multidisciplinary collaboration across healthcare teams to maintain the highest standards of anesthesiology professionals. APSF counts multiple CRNAs among its Board of Directors. The ANA Enterprise includes the ANA, the American Nurses Credentialing Center, and the ANA Foundation. The membership-based organization offers multiple resources, including paths to certification, professional development, and annual conferences and networking events.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nurse Anesthetist Jobs

Are nurse anesthetists in demand?

Yes, the BLS projects nurse anesthetist jobs to grow 13% from 2020-2030, faster than the 8% average growth rate for all U.S. jobs. Generally, the BLS projects a high demand for workers across all healthcare occupations during this period due to an aging population.

Specifically, the demand for nurse anesthetists and other APRNs is commensurate with their increased responsibilities as practitioners in the national healthcare system. The BLS projects nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners to grow 45% overall from 2020-2030.

Do CRNAs make more than doctors?

Yes, in some cases CRNAs can earn more than primary care physicians. However, most doctors make more practicing in a specialty such as internal medicine, psychiatry, or obstetrics and gynecology than CRNAs.

Anesthesiologists are among the highest-paid type of physician or general surgeon. However, anesthesiologists and CRNAs are different occupations and require different credentials. Anesthesiologists must attend medical school and perform residency training, while CRNAs need an MSN or DNP and field certification.

Can I become a nurse anesthetist with an online degree?

Yes, online graduate degrees exist for aspiring nurse anesthetists. However, all degrees require a clinical component. Nurse anesthetists may complete the degree's academic requirements online and practicum hours in person at a local facility. A master's or doctorate in nurse anesthesia may also require campus visits.

Employers do not differentiate between candidates educated on campus or online, since all accredited programs include the clinical experience necessary to qualify for nurse anesthetist jobs.

How much money can I make as a nurse anesthetist?

Nurse anesthetist salaries can range from $131,000 to more than $202,000, according to the BLS. Since these advanced practice registered nurses possess such specialized skills, nurse anesthetists earn one of the highest salaries in healthcare, even exceeding the wages of some physicians.

Nurse anesthetist jobs favor candidates with extensive field experience. CRNAs with 1-4 years of experience may earn annual salaries of $153,770, while those with experience of 20 years or more can earn about $190,000 according to Payscale in July 2022.

What is the fastest way to become a nurse anesthetist?

Students may pursue a dual BSN-MSN degree or apply to a DNP directly after their BSN to meet the CRNA's academic requirements as quickly as possible. However, there is no shortcut for completing the required practicum hours or taking the RN or CRNA exams.

All nurse anesthetists should start with a BSN, which typically takes four years, and an RN license. Next, students looking to become a nurse anesthetist as quickly as possibly may pursue a BSN-to-DNP program, which may take 3-4 additional years to complete. RNs also need at least one year of critical care experience to become CRNAs.

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