Anesthesia Assistant: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for anesthesiology assistants. Get the facts about the necessary job duties, education requirements and salary expectations to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Anesthesia Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Anesthesia Assistant?

An anesthesia assistant is a medical professional who works under the supervision of a licensed anesthesiologist. They assist with the treatment of patients during surgery and other procedures that require anesthesia, aiding in the administration of general anesthesia, as well as the management of its effects. In addition, anesthesia assistants are qualified to independently perform regional anesthesia and place invasive monitors.

More information for this career can be found in the table below:

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Anesthesiology, anesthesia technology
Key Responsibilities Collect patient information, test and maintain equipment, monitor patients
Certification Professional certification from the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants
Job Growth (2018-28) 31%* (physician assistants)
Median Salary (2018) $108,610* (physician assistants)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Responsibilities of an Anesthesia Assistant?

Anesthesia assistants, also called anesthesiologist assistants and anesthetists, are allied health professionals who work under the supervision of doctors, including physician anesthesiologists. In this position, you would help to create and implement courses of action for patient anesthesia care. While you could work in any environment that requires anesthesia delivery systems and protocols, the American Medical Association (AMA) reports that anesthesia assistants are most commonly found in facilities that perform complex procedures, such as cardiac surgery, trauma care and neurosurgery (www.ama-assn.org).

Part of your responsibilities would include collecting preoperative patient information and providing clinical instruction. Clinical duties include conducting diagnostic laboratory studies, testing anesthesia delivery systems, administering and managing anesthesia and peripheral drug therapy, monitoring patients and providing recovery room and intensive care unit support.

What are the Educational Requirements?

Educational programs for anesthesia assistant training begin at the graduate level. Prior to enrolling in graduate school, you must first obtain your bachelor's degree. Your degree can be in any discipline, as long as you meet your graduate school's premedical requirements. These usually include laboratory courses in chemistry, biology, physics, organic chemistry, biochemistry, anatomy, physiology, mathematics and English.

The American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants stated that, as of 2017, there were only 11 schools that offer targeted graduate programs for anesthesiologist assistants (www.anesthetist.org). Master of Science programs in anesthesia last approximately two years. You'll receive advanced training that includes clinical and laboratory experience and courses in epidemiology, biostatistics, anesthesia pharmacology and other related subjects.

Do I Need a License or Certification?

As of 2015, anesthesia assistants work in less than 20 states. Depending on the state in which you work, you may either be required to become licensed/certified or practice under the protocols of delegation through a licensed anesthesiologist. The specific duties that can be performed through delegation vary with each state.

If you live in one of the 12 states that regulates anesthesia assistants independently, you may obtain certification through the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants by passing an examination that is administered by the National Board of Medical Examiners. To maintain your license, you must register for continuing education courses every two years and take a re-qualification exam every six years.

What Kind of Salary Can I Earn?

The BLS reported in 2018 that the median annual salary for all physician assistants was $108,610 per year. Your specific salary will be contingent upon various factors, such as geographic location. Job growth in the field is expected to be 31%, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Another medical career related to anesthesia administration is a job as a nurse anesthetist. These advanced practice nurses are trained to independently administer general and regional anesthesia during operations. In order to get this job, it is necessary to complete a master's degree program and pass a licensure exam. For a more general medical job, you could consider becoming an nurse practitioner, where you might offer general diagnosis and treatment services in the office of a family doctor or pediatrician. Like nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners must hold a master's degree in nursing and be licensed to practice.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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