Anesthesiologist Assistant: Career Profile, Job Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Research what it takes to become an anesthesiologist assistant. Learn about the degree and certification requirements, job duties and salary information to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Anesthesia Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Anesthesiologist Assistant?

When a patient needs anesthesia for a procedure or surgery, an anesthesiologist assistant assists the anesthesiologist in its administration. Anesthesiologist assistants make sure that supplies, gases and medications are available as needed in operating rooms, and they calibrate and test the anesthesia delivery system and related equipment. They monitor the airways of the patient receiving anesthesia and must be trained to respond to emergencies and provide CPR if necessary.

The following chart can help you decide if this career is right for you.

Degree Required Master's degree
Education Field of Study Anesthesiology
Key Responsibilities Manage patient care while under anesthesia, interview patients, preoperative tasks, monitor patient status during procedures
Certification National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants certification
Job Growth (2014-2024) 30% for all physician assistants*
Median Salary (2015) $98,180 for all physician assistants*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an Anesthesiologist Assistant Do?

Anesthesiologist assistants (AAs) work under anesthesiologists to manage a patient's care while he or she is under anesthesia during surgery or during other medical procedures. As an anesthesiologist assistant, you'll interview the patient for his or her medical history before the operation. You'll complete preoperative tasks, including the insertion of catheters, intravenous lines and more. During a procedure, you'll monitor vitals, hematocrit levels and electrocardiographs (EKGs) to guarantee safe administration of anesthesia. After an operation, you'll monitor a patient during his or her recovery. You'll also work with anesthesiologists to administer injections and epidurals.

What Can I Make?

As of 2011, only 18 states currently use certified AAs, according to the American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants ( The employment for all physician assistants is expected to grow much faster than average from 2014-2024, at a rate of 30%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS states that in 2015, the median salary for all physician assistants was $98,180.

What Degree Program Should I Study?

While nurse anesthetists (NAs) attend nursing school, AAs focus their studies on medical principles. You must first earn a 4-year bachelor's degree in a scientific field like biology, physics or chemistry. However, the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) suggests completing any program that meets pre-med requirements, such as science, medical technology or nursing ( can then look into a post-baccalaureate program in anesthesiology. These master's degree programs run between 2-3 years and cover classroom, simulation laboratory and clinical study.

How Do I Become Certified?

The National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants offers certification for anesthesiologist assistants ( You must be 21 years old to sit for the certification exam. You must also have a degree from a CAAHEP-accredited program or be within 180 days of graduation. Practice exams and information regarding the Examination for Continued Demonstration of Qualifications of Anesthesiologist Assistants (CDQ) are available on the Commission's website.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Anesthesiologist assistants perform tasks that are similar to those of physician assistants and nurses. Nurses may provide patient care, and those who work in operating rooms may also be responsible for ensuring supplies and medications are available. Physician assistants may also ensure equipment is working properly, provide emergency care and administer medications to patients. Physicians prescribe and administer medications and may perform surgeries, determine necessary medical care and perform life-saving measures as needed when treating patients.

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