What Education Do I Need to Become an Anesthesiologist?

Find out what education is required to become an anesthesiologist. Get details on program requirements, professional licensure, and career prospects. Schools offering Anesthesia Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Education Overview

Anesthesiologists need to graduate from medical school, obtain medical licensure and complete specialized anesthesiology residencies.

Important Facts About this Career

Median Salary (2015) $272,079
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 18% (for all physicians and surgeons)
Licensure Licensure is require by all states
Similar Occupations Nurse anesthetist, chiropractor, dentist, optometrist, podiatrist, surgeon

Sources: Payscale.com, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Bachelor's Degree

Obtaining a bachelor's degree from an accredited school is the crucial first step in your preparation for a career as an anesthesiologist. Although a degree in pre-medicine is not always required for admission into medical school, it is a common pathway. Undergraduate degree programs in pre-medicine will allow you to choose your major, while ensuring that you take prerequisites for medical school. Within this degree program, you may end up choosing a major in biology, zoology, or a related field.

If you decide on another major, make sure you are completing the prerequisite courses for admission into medical school, which typically include biology, general and organic chemistry, physics, and calculus.

Medical School

After completing a four-year undergraduate degree, you will need to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) before you can be accepted into a medical program to earn a Doctor of Medicine (MD), which is required for all anesthesiologists.

Once you have been accepted into a school that is accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), you will complete a program that combines classroom instruction and clinical training, which typically takes four years of full-time study. According to the American Medical Association, while some programs have an anesthesiology rotation requirement, not every medical school offers the opportunity to study anesthesiology (www.ama-assn.org).


Once you've earned your MD, you can choose from a number of anesthesiology residency programs offered throughout the United States. You will typically complete a one-year internship in anesthesiology that involves clinical rotations to prepare you for a residency. A three-year residency generally includes on-campus simulations and on-site hospital training. Residents are guided by senior anesthesiologists in actual operating room settings.

Some residents might decide to pursue additional studies, or a fellowship, in a subspecialty area. Subspecialties include cardiac anesthesia, pediatric anesthesia, and pain management. However, some programs expose students to subspecialty areas as part of the three-year residency.

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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