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Certified Nurse Anesthesiologist Certification and Job Facts

Nurse anesthesiologists are advanced practice nurses who manage surgical patients' pain. Read on to learn about the education and licensure requirements to become certified and work as a nurse anesthesiologist.

What Is a Certified Nurse Anesthesiologist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a nurse anesthesiologist is an advanced practice nurse that provides anesthesia and pain management medication to a patient before, during and after surgery (www.bls.gov). You can become a certified nurse anesthesiologist through the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists, which awards the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) designation. To earn the CRNA credential, you must complete at least a master's degree in nursing and hold a valid license as a registered nurse (www.nbcrna.com).

How Do I Earn an RN License?

To become a registered nurse (RN), you'll need to graduate from an undergraduate nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs. Some schools offer associate and bachelor's degree courses fully or partially online or through evening study, though you'll usually need to participate in some practical application of your studies through lab work and clinical rotations. Experience gained in a degree program also helps you qualify for state licensure. In a nursing program, you'll learn fundamental nursing procedures, such as acute, pediatric, obstetric and urgent care practices.

How Do I Become a Nurse Anesthesiologist?

After becoming an RN, you'll need to complete a graduate program and usually obtain advanced nursing licensure to work as a nurse anesthesiologist. More than 110 schools in the U.S. offer accredited master's and doctoral degree programs and post-master's certificate programs with specific training in nursing anesthetics and advanced nursing practices. To apply, you'll need to have earned at least a bachelor's degree and RN licensure. Courses, labs, simulations and clinical rotations give you opportunities to learn how to administer anesthetics in a number of surgical scenarios, including cardiovascular, emergency or neurological operations.

What Can I Expect From a Job in This Profession?

As a nurse anesthesiologist, you could find work in private and public hospitals as well as other sectors of the health care industry, including military medical care. Your primary responsibility in this field is to administer anesthetics to patients and manage their pain during surgical procedures. As of December 2011, PayScale.com reported the salary range for the majority of nurse anesthetists with CRNA certification was $88,132-$172,217.