Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

Facts About a Career as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist

Are you interested in becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist or simply want to learn more about the role? Sit back and get your pen ready because there are quite a few things to know about being a certified registered nurse anesthetist and each year the list grows.


Being a CRNA means joining a specialized field and sitting among advanced-level nurses. CRNAs are responsible for the administration and monitoring of anesthesia during a variety of medical procedures. In order to do their job, there are many things they need to check off. Here are some facts about a career as a certified registered nurse anesthetist.


For over 150 years, nurse anesthetists have been providing care to patients, serving as, sometimes, the primary provider for anesthesia care. In the United States, the role of a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) was established in 1956


This specialized nursing role has garnered so much respect that CRNAs are included among the most trusted professions in the United States. They have held a top spot on the Gallup’s Honesty and Ethics list for 19 consecutive years. They rank second in the “Best Health Care Jobs” report by the U.S. News & World Report, 2021.


Now, CRNAs administer more than 50 million anesthetics to patients and comprise over fifty percent of the anesthesia workforce. If there is a need for anesthesia, you will likely find a CRNA of service.

Education Prerequisite

Becoming a certified registered nurse anesthetist requires a high level of education and training. You must have a solid foundation of medical knowledge, interpersonal skills, and experience to practice. To become ar CRNA, you will need to acquire a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or related degree and gain experience as a registered nurse first.


Adding on a specialization means you will need to have graduate-level education, usually a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). While there are anesthesiologists, CRNAs function in the same capacity. This is why education is so important. Be sure to check the accreditation status of your desired school as your degrees must come from an accredited institution.

Certification and Registration

To practice as  CRNA, you must become certified and registered. An unlicensed nurse cannot practice. After getting your bachelor’s degree, you can sit for “the boards,” the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses offered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.


Board examination eligibility requirements vary from state to state, so it’s important to review what the eligibility requirements are before you even begin the course of study. After you are licensed, you must complete at least a year of acute experience and obtain your graduate degree before sitting for the certification exam to become a full CRNA.


The CRNA credential is provided by the National Board on Certification and Recertification of Nurse Anesthetists. But it’s not over once you certify because you must recertify every two years.

The Practice

medical staff


Once you have built your knowledge foundation and completed the necessary processes for certification and registration, you become a practicing certified registered nurse anesthetist. Practicing as CRNA comes with a lot of responsibility, duties, and time. 


Wherever anesthesia is being used, a CRNA can be found practicing. Work settings extend beyond the traditional hospital surgical suites and delivery rooms to ambulatory surgical centers, dentist offices, critical access hospitals, plastic surgeon offices, pain management specialty centers, ophthalmologist offices, and Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare facilities.


While a majority of certified registered nurse anesthetists work in traditional hospital settings, they still have the options for alternative paths of employment like other registered nurses such as taking short-term assignments and being traveling nurses, locum CRNAs.


Certified registered nurse anesthetists can be expected to experience stress, as stress and emergency situations come with the territory. Emergent situations are inherent in the field of medicine and CRNs are expected to be ready on their toes.


Another thing to be expected working in the healthcare field is long work times. Sometimes, the hours are brutal from being on call to ineffective scheduling, 14-plus hour surgeries, and more. When you add the long hours and element of the unknown for emergency cases, it is not uncommon to find CRNAs working nights, weekends, and holidays.


Although working as CRNA can be challenging, if you are committed to working as a healthcare professional and are strongly considering nursing, you will be happy to know that among job roles in advanced-level nursing, CRNA has the highest satisfaction rate.

Salary Potential

Working in the healthcare industry offers the potential for high earnings. As a CRNA you can earn a six-figure income. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, CRNAs made on average a salary of $183, 580. An aesthetic nurse practitioner salary can be anywhere between $133,970 and over $208,000. Salary does vary greatly between states.

Potential Market Growth

Will this be a stable job in the future to come? Healthcare is a growing field and the employment rate for CRNAs is expected to grow with it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a thirteen percent growth rate within this decade. This growth rate is faster than average for most professions. 


Healthcare will always, indeed, be a much-needed service. As the field looks to highlight preventive care and care for an aging population, CRNAs will be in demand.



Being a CRNA is a lot of work. You must have a solid education, valuable experience, and obtain certifications. The job comes with its pros and cons but if you are dedicated to caring for patients this may be a course you strongly want to consider. It provides a stable career path, with a strong salary, and potential for mobility.


As the medical field grows, develops, and adapts to global health crises, you will find that CRNAs are not only held in esteem for administering anesthesia, but for their transferable skills and knowledge that can be extremely helpful in case of emergencies, when understaffed, and in need of advanced practitioners.

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