Anesthesia is one of the most significant medical developments, enabling surgical procedures to be performed safely and comfortably. Today, anesthesia is an essential part of modern medicine, and there are several career paths related to anesthesiology. This article will focus on one such path, that of a nurse anesthetist, exploring their role and average salary.
What Exactly Is a Nurse Anesthetist?
A nurse anesthetist, or certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), is a type of registered nurse whose primary responsibility is administering anesthesia to patients during medical procedures and monitoring their recovery. CRNAs play a crucial role in providing care to patients as there is an increase in demand for registered nurses.
As a nurse anesthetist, you may work in one of several healthcare settings, including general hospitals, surgical clinics, private doctors’ offices, military bases, psychiatric institutions, outpatient care centers, and more. Depending on where you work and state laws, you may perform under the supervision of doctors or work independently.
However, in all cases, you will be dealing with patients, their families, and other medical staff. You can work with a broad range of patients or specialize in a specific field such as neurosurgery, cardiovascular, pediatrics, obstetrics, or some other area.
Nurse Anesthetist Salary
Being a nurse anesthetist is highly rewarding. Firstly, you receive the emotional reward from caring for patients and helping make a change in their lives. However, in addition to that, there is a significant financial reward—certified registered nurse anesthetists are among the highest-paying nurses for 2023.
As of March 2023, CRNAs in the United States earn around $225,555 per year. In comparison, the average salary for a registered nurse in the United States is only $77,976 a year.
The exact salary you can expect to earn as a nurse anesthetist depends on several factors. Below we provide more information regarding CRNA salaries by state, experience, and work setting.
Nurse anesthetist salary by state
The top three highest-paying states for nurse anesthetists in the U.S. are New Jersey, Tennessee, and Hawaii, whereas the lowest paying are North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia.
Here is a complete list of nurse anesthetist salaries for all 50 states, ranging from the highest to the lowest. Keep in mind that even the lowest salary in this list is significantly higher than the average salary for most registered nurse positions.
Nurse anesthetist salary by years of experience
Like with all other careers, most nurse anesthetists must begin by working entry-level jobs. Later on, by gaining experience and furthering their education, they can climb the healthcare ladder.
Data shows that entry-level nurse anesthetists with one to three years of experience earn an annual salary of $120,581. On the other hand, senior CRNAs who have more than eight years of experience earn around $220,557 per year. So, there is a $100,000 difference in salary for nurse anesthetists based on experience.
Nurse anesthetist salary by work setting
According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the five highest-paying work settings for nurse anesthetists are:
Similarly, they also have the highest concentration and employment levels for nurse anesthetists.
How To Increase Your Salary as a Nurse Anesthetist
There are several strategies you can utilize to increase your earning potential as a nurse anesthetist:
Generally, employers value people who are always willing to improve their skills. Although they are not obliged to provide differential or premium pay to employees per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers may choose to do so in various situations, including offering a salary increase to employers based on certification differential pay.
Participate in career ladder programs
Depending on where you work, you might have the opportunity to participate in career ladder programs where you earn bonuses by completing them. The exact benefits depend on the program. However, generally, they are designed to help staff progress to higher levels of their positions, and upon successful completion, you can gain a percentage wage increase between 3-7%.
Further your education
Obtaining advanced degrees is another strategy that always pays off. According to the BLS, each level of education you complete can help you improve your skills and open doors to higher-paying positions. Their statistics show that the median weekly earnings of workers with a bachelor’s degree are significantly lower than those with a master’s degree, professional degree, and doctoral degree. Therefore, investing in an advanced degree in nursing will definitely be worth it.
Should You Become a Nurse Anesthetist?
Choosing a career path comes down to much more than just its average salary. So, when considering whether you should become a nurse anesthetist, think about everything else the position offers.
For example, you might be helping put people to sleep, but the job of a nurse anesthetist is anything but drowsy. Generally, you will help patients with diverse medical cases, ranging from labor to brain surgeries. You will work on patients by utilizing interesting tools and advanced technology to administer the anesthesia and monitor them. Each day is a new challenge.
Furthermore, the job provides autonomy too. Although in some cases, you work under a team of doctors or supervisors. Generally, you are trusted to make your own calls about anesthesia care based on your education and skills.
Therefore, if you are interested in helping people while simultaneously having exciting and challenging responsibilities each day, as well as being compensated generously for it, then this career is for you.
What’s the Bottom Line?
Nurse anesthetists are the backbone of all surgical procedures. They are the ones who ensure the patients feel no pain and that the surgeons can safely proceed with the operation. Because of their importance in the healthcare industry, the salaries associated with this career path are high, and you can expect to earn a six-figure salary annually.
All in all, as a nurse anesthetist, you will help people undergo procedures necessary for them to lead longer and healthier lives while enjoying a lucrative career for yourself.
Do you want to learn more about the various paths available in the nursing field? Then check out our Nursing Career Guides by clicking here.