Cardiac Anesthesiologist: Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for cardiac anesthesiologists. Get the facts about education and licensure requirements, salary, and potential job growth 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 a Cardiac Anesthesiologist?

Cardiac anesthesiologists are physicians who specialize in the administration of anesthesia during cardiovascular procedures. They offer patient care before, during and after the procedure takes place. For instance, prior to the surgery, they meet with the patient to discuss medical history and current prescription medications so that they can design an anesthesia strategy that will be both safe and effective. During the cardiovascular surgery, they administer the drug and monitor the patient's response, adjusting the dosage when necessary. Afterward, they may continue to monitor the patient during recovery and prescribe painkillers for when the anesthesia wears off.

The following chart gives you an overview about a career as a cardiac anesthesiologist.

Degree Required Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)
Training Required 3-year residency followed by 1-year fellowship
Key Responsibilities Determine best medication to use for each patient and administer anesthesia during surgical procedures; monitor patient during procedure and adjust anesthesia accordingly; prescribe pain management medication; record dosage and type of medication in patient records
Licensure and/or Certification All states require doctors to be licensed; board certification is available
Job Growth (2018-2028) 7% for all physicians and surgeons*
Median Salary (2019) $292,370 for all anesthesiologists**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **

What Education Do I Need to Become a Cardiac Anesthesiologist?

A cardiac anesthesiologist is primarily a physician; therefore, you must complete at least three years of undergraduate coursework in addition to medical school in order to get started in the field. Most medical school students wind up completing 4-year baccalaureate program in a field such as life science or biology before admittance. Regardless of your undergraduate degree, you will be required to take a certain amount of pre-med courses, such as biology and chemistry, before you can apply to med school.

While in medical school, you will be trained in general patient care through clinical studies and classroom instruction. This includes coursework in microbiology, pathology, immunology, metabolism, hematology, nutrition and genetics. Medical school generally lasts four years.

After graduating from medical school, you will complete an internship, which is usually one year; a residency, which generally lasts three years; and a fellowship, which is at least one year. It is during these post-graduate studies that you will receive training in your specialty, cardiac anesthesiology. You will receive advanced training in the classroom and through clinical studies in cardiology, cardiac intensive care and surgical anesthetic management.

Do I Need a License or Certification?

In all U.S. states, territories and the District of Columbia, you will be required to obtain a license to practice medicine as a cardiac anesthesiologist. For national requirements, you must pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination. You must also adhere to your state's licensing requirements, which vary. For credentialing purposes, you may decide to seek board certification through one of many professional trade organizations, such as the American Board of Medical Specialists. Certification requirements vary with each employer.

What Salary Can I Earn?

According to, the 2019 median annual salary for anesthesiologists is $292,370. Your individual salary will be determined by various factors, including your geographic location and your employer.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Anesthesiologists can choose from several different specialties aside from cardiovascular anesthesiology, including pediatric anesthesiology, pain medicine or critical care. Specialization in one of these areas requires one-year fellowship after the medical residency. If you are particular interested in anesthesiology administration, you may also want to consider a job as a certified nurse anesthetist (CRNA). These advanced practice nurses work closely with doctors to administer anesthesia for a wide variety of medical procedures. For this job, it is necessary to earn a nursing master's degree and pass a licensure exam.

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