Anesthesiologist Certification and Licensing Requirements

As an anesthesiologist, you'd help people manage pain connected with surgery or other medical procedures. After finishing the necessary education requirements, you may be able to receive a certification in anesthesiology. Read more to find out what you'll need before you apply. Learn about the certifying exam, and compare certification and licensing. Schools offering Anesthesia Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are the Certification Eligibility Requirements for Anesthesiologists?

The American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) states that you can apply for Board of Certification in Anesthesiology credentials voluntarily after you complete an anesthesiology residency program ( The ABPS lists the following as requirements to apply for the certification exam:

  • Application forms with two recent passport-sized photos
  • Adherence to the American Board of Physician Specialties' Code of Ethics
  • Transcripts from your completed medical school training
  • Medical license
  • A curriculum vitae that outlines your accomplishments and degrees in chronological order
  • Completion of an approved PGY-1 program or internship along with a residency in anesthesiology

There are subspecialty certification options available after your initial certification, which include pediatric, hospice care and pain medicine. These certifications may require that you complete further training or fellowships in an anesthesiology program.

Certification Requirements Application forms, adherence to the ABPS's Code of Ethics, medical license; subspecialty certification may require additional training/fellowships
Prerequisites Pre-medical undergraduate degree program, medical school, anesthesiology residency
Certification Exam Consists of a written, multiple-choice exam and an oral exam
Licensing vs. Certification Certification is valid across U.S. and demonstrates knowledge and skill; licensing is state-specific and mandatory for all practicing physicians

What Education Prerequisites Are Needed?

Since anesthesiologists are medical doctors, they must complete a pre-medical undergraduate degree program, medical school and an anesthesiology residency. During your residency, which is usually a 3-year program, you'll receive training in various medical areas. These specialties include, but aren't limited to, general anesthesia, obstetrics, cardiology, pediatrics and ambulatory care.

How Is the Exam Constructed?

The initial certification examination through the American Board of Anesthesiology consists of two parts ( The first portion is a written, multiple-choice exam, which contains a symptom-to-condition matching section and an in-depth diagnostic simulation. The oral examination is second and measures the candidate's aptitude to respond accordingly in critical situations.

What Is the Difference Between Licensing and Certification?

Certification is a specialty board designation that's valid across the U.S. and demonstrates your knowledge and skill of anesthesiology. Licensing is a state-specific credential that's mandatory for all practicing physicians. To become a licensed anesthesiologist, you must pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination and contact your state's medical board for additional eligibility requirements.

You may be required to get a new license if you want to practice anesthesiology in a different state. Since you'll be required to complete medical school, you might be able to take your state's licensing exam as part of the curriculum requirements. This allows you to practice in the state in which you're enrolled and practicing during training.

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