How to Become a CRNA: Salary, Education, Career Info

Nurse manages an IV dripCertified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are specialty nurses with advanced degrees who administer most of the anesthetics given in medical facilities. A CRNA specialization is one of the higher pay levels in nursing, and the practice allows a significant degree of autonomy and respect.

CRNAs are able to administer anesthesia, monitor people who are under the influence of anesthesia, and take care of patients as they are coming off of anesthesia. They may work with an anesthesiologist or alone. The need for CRNAs is far-reaching, including traditional hospital surgical suites, obstetrical delivery rooms, ambulatory surgical centers, and offices of dentists, podiatrists, plastic surgeons and pain management specialists.

Table of Contents
How to Become a CRNA
Education Requirements
CRNA Job Description
Career Options
CRNA Certification
Professional Organizations

Nurse Salary and Employment Data

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Minimum Education Required Master’s degree
Board Examinations needed NBCRNA national certification exam , NCLEX-RN
Average Annual Salary $151,090
# of Jobs (2012) 35,200
Job Outlook (2012 to2022) 25% growth

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

How to become a CRNA

The education and experience required to become a CRNA include:

  • A current license as a registered nurse.
  • At least one year of experience as a registered nurse in an acute care setting.
  • A minimum of a master’s degree from an accredited nurse anesthesia educational program.
  • A passing grade on the national certification examination following graduation from a nurse anesthesia program.

All in all, achieving CRNA status takes a minimum of seven years of education and experience.

Nurse Anesthetist Education Requirements

The requirements for enrolling in an accredited nurse anesthesia program include a bachelor’s degree in nursing (or other appropriate baccalaureate degree), Registered Nurse licensure and a minimum of one year experience in acute care (for example, ICU or ER).

There are 114 accredited nurse anesthesia programs in the United States (as of October 2014). The programs range from 24 to 36 months in length, depending upon university requirements. All programs include courses in anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and anesthesia as well as clinical training in a university-based or large community hospital.

In some cases, nurse anesthesia programs will admit nurses without a bachelor’s degree, on the condition they attend a bridge program. This program helps students earn their bachelor degree concurrently with their nurse anesthesia degree.

Wilkes RN to MS


Nurse Anesthetist Job description

CRNAs administer anesthesia before, during, and after surgical, therapeutic, diagnostic, and obstetrical procedures. They also provide pain management.

To understand a CRNA job description, one must understand the responsibilities. On any given day, the CRNA can participate in a number of activities, most of them completed with minimum supervision by an anesthesiologist. As they become more trusted, they may be given the complete responsibility for patient care, only reporting status back to the team.

  • Patient Assessment – The CRNA will perform an evaluation of the patient and talk with them about their procedure. They may refer the patient to other specialists if they have conditions that might affect the anesthesia experience.
  • Anesthesia Plan – This plan notes the various medical conditions to be aware of for anesthesia and recommends the type and levels of anesthesia for the procedure. There will be notes about what to watch for during the procedure and specific actions for recovery room personnel to take.
  • Patient Preparation – The CRNA will help prepare the patient for their procedure and the anesthesia. They may put in the needed IVs or check that they are ready for use. They will help set up any monitoring devices to check blood pressure, pulse and temperature of the patient.
  • Anesthesia Preparation and Administration – All of the needed anesthetics, accompanying drugs and IV fluids will be requisitioned and made ready to be used in the operating room. The CRNA will administer all anesthesia and supporting drugs and monitor the patient’s reaction. They will continue to monitor the patient’s status throughout the procedure and adjust the medications accordingly. As the procedure comes to a close, the CRNA will bring the patient out of the anesthesia and prepare them for transfer to recovery.
  • Follow Up – The patient will be monitored while in recovery for any adverse effects from the anesthesia. The CRNA will make sure that all patient documentation regarding the anesthesia is updated and accurate.
  • Emergency Management – The CRNA will react to an emergency with the standard procedures as outlined by the practice in which they work. They are responsible for the patient’s airway, emergency drug and fluid management, and any life support measures they are called on to do.
  • Administrative Duties – The CRNA will be responsible for other aspects of their practice such as patient record management, procedure coding and billing, inventory and restocking, and patient scheduling.

CRNAs work with minimal supervision by anesthesiologists.

Career options

CRNAs may find employment in:

  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient surgical centers
  • Physician offices
  • Pain clinics
  • Public health departments
  • Podiatrist offices
  • Plastic surgeon offices
  • Dental surgical centers

CRNAs may choose to work directly for a medical facility or may choose to work on an independent basis, working as needed for multiple facilities or medical practitioners.

The outlook for nurses who have earned a CRNA degree is positive. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is general growth in all aspects of the nursing industry, and there is a 25 percent projected increase in the number of nursing jobs over the next 10 years. This growth is faster than normal when compared to most other industries.

Nurses who work in hospitals tend to earn more than other nurses, but geographic location can also have an impact on salary. According to the BLS, nurses who work in California, Massachusetts, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska earn more on average than their peers in other states. Another big opportunity for CRNAs is in rural America. CRNAs are the sole providers of anesthesia care in nearly all rural hospitals.

Certification information

After a nurse has successfully completed a nurse anesthesia educational program, he or she can take the National Certification Examination (NCE) offered by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA).

In order to be recertified, CRNAs must obtain a minimum of 40 hours of approved continuing education every two years, document substantial anesthesia practice, maintain current state licensure, and certify that they have not developed any conditions that could adversely affect their ability to practice anesthesia.

Professional organizations

American Association of Nurse Anesthetists:

American Society of Anesthesiologists:

Society for Ambulatory Anesthesia (SAMBA):

American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine:

American Society of PeriAnesthesia Nurses:


  1. http://Amanda says

    This is very good information for me since one of these days I’ll be a C.R.N.A soon and go to school for it