Nurse Anesthetist Requirements | How to Become a CRNA - (2024)

Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) have made the news for being the Nation’s highest paid nurses. But they are first and foremost nurses. They got in the positions they’re in through stages. They proved themselves as critical care nurses; they’ve been out there in the ICU. Later they competed against other interested critical care nurses – professionally, academically, personally — and then completed several additional years of very rigorous education. They often work in areas where the population depends on them in no small way. One way they may serve: by being on-call for emergencies.

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The Nation’s highest paid nurses have completed several years of very rigorous education.

Nurse anesthetists are an integral part of surgery. They also provide an invaluable service in trauma stabilization.

CRNAs may work in operating rooms, ambulatory surgical centers, or the offices of various healthcare providers, for example, ophthalmologists. They practice under supervision in most states. However, some states have opted out of this requirement.

In rural America, it’s nurse anesthetists, not anesthesiologists, who are the main anesthesia providers. One reason they are so fundamental: Many of the hospitals they work for are strapped. Nurse anesthetists may be the highest paid nurses, but they are more affordable than anesthesiologists. So, too, these small hospitals may face recruitment challenges.

This is one of the reasons that during National Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) Week many communities opted to highlight their role. The Minnesota Association of Nurse Anesthetists reported that anesthesia services are provided solely by CRNAs in more than 60% of the state’s counties (

Nurse anesthetists are also utilized extensively in the military. Nurses have been providing anesthesia since the Civil War. Thankfully, it’s gotten a lot safer in the ensuing time. In fact, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) reports that it’s many times safer than it was in the 1980s (

Many CRNAs do work in urban areas. Rochester, Minnesota has the highest concentration of nurse anesthetists of any metropolitan or nonmetropolitan division in the nation. Next in line are Mobile, Alabama and Charleston, West Virginia. In some settings, they work on teams with anesthesiologists.

The role of the nurse anesthetist extends from pre-operative through post-operative phase (for example, pre-anesthesia assessment and monitoring of post-anesthesia recovery). Technical competencies include attaching invasive and noninvasive monitors and providing airway management and ventilation support; CNRAs sometimes consult on these subjects. Some nurse anesthetists perform pain management services such as nerve blocks. AANA ( has provided a sample job description with things that a CRNA might do on the job – it’s a lengthy list.

AANA operates a website that includes CRNA stories ( One tells of a CRNA in private practice who got a pilot’s license to facilitate getting from himself hospital to hospital in rural Nebraska. He has assisted with many emergencies, including a person who had accidentally injected himself with what could have been a fatal dose of a medication intended not for humans but cattle; the CRNA’s knowledge of the molecular structure of drugs allowed him to suggest to the emergency room doctor something that might work to counter its effects. Another CRNA, an urban provider, tells of being on the team that performed an historic artificial heart transplant.

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Becoming a CRNA

A career in nurse anesthesia builds on a career in critical care nursing; the minimum requirement is one year of experience as a critical care nurse.

A future nurse anesthetist will need to complete a graduate program that is approved by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. Programs take from two years to about three-and-a-half years ( They are heavy on clinical experience.

The profession is transitioning from master’s level to doctoral level. The master’s will no longer be an option for students who enter programs in 2022; all entering students will need to graduate with doctoral degrees. They will have core ‘Doctor of Nursing Practice’ or DNP coursework in addition to comprehensive clinical and didactic preparation in anesthesia-related studies. A 2018 search shows 119 accredited programs, with 74 at the doctoral level (

Nurse anesthetist applicants typically submit several references in addition to their own personal statement. Nursing experience is scrutinized. Academic caliber and scientific aptitude must be high. A 3.0 may be stated as the minimum requirement. The GRE is sometimes required. Some programs will admit RNs who do not hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing if they hold another appropriate degree at the bachelor’s level. Overall, candidates should expect a highly selective process. OHSU School of Nursing states that for their master’s program, it is not uncommon for the selection rate to be about one in seven (

In order to be credentialed, a person must pass an examination given by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists, or NBCRNA (

Some CRNAs choose to specialize. Sub-specialties include obstetrics, cardiovascular, pediatric, plastic surgery, dental, and neurological services.

CRNA Salary and Career Outlook

Nurse anesthetists earned an average salary of $160,270 in 2016. There is a good deal of variation from one state to the next, and there may be some surprises ( Wyoming and Montana employ relatively few CRNAs, but it’s here that wages are highest. Next up is California. The highest paying metropolitan areas are in California.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics groups nurse anesthetists with two other types of advanced practice nurse (nurse practitioners and nurse midwives) for some reporting purposes. This occupational group has been projected to see 31% growth between 2016 and 2026.

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Nurse Anesthetist Requirements | How to Become a CRNA - (2024)


What is the fastest way to become a nurse anesthetist? ›

But there is no fast-track option—nurse anesthesia programs require a BSN or another appropriate baccalaureate degree (the program determines "appropriate"), as well as an RN license and a minimum of one year of acute care nursing experience. Programs take 2–3 years to complete.

Is a CRNA higher than a RN? ›

The pay also varies greatly between the two positions. Experience level, education, and geographic location also differ. CRNAs earn more than registered nurses, often well into six digits, practicing in many states without physician supervision.

What is the GPA for CRNA? ›

The average GPA of accepted students is 3.7. You are right where you need to be with this domain. Evidence of academic ability is extremely important. Graduate education in general and anesthesia education in particular are very demanding, academically.

How many years is CRNA after RN? ›

Becoming a CRNA may take between 7-10 years, including clinical experience working as an RN in an ICU or a critical care department. Beginning in 2022, aspiring CRNAs should plan on spending 2-3 years to complete the required DNP or DNAP degree after earning their BSN and RN license.

How difficult is CRNA school? ›

CRNA school is hard, and that means the coursework is hard as well. The coursework you complete in CRNA school is very technical and rigorous. It can feel overwhelming to learn so many new concepts at one time while trying to retain the information and apply it to your clinical skills.

What is the average age of CRNA students? ›

The average SRNA is about 30 years old, has around three years of experience in a critical care unit, and roughly 30% have kids.

How long are most CRNA programs? ›

Depending on the school, a nurse anesthetist program is two to three years long. CRNA programs teach through classwork and through hands-on clinical opportunities. After you complete your CRNA program, you must then pass the National Certification Examination.

Which state pays the most for nurse anesthetist? ›

Highest-paying states for nurse anesthetists

For nurse anesthetists, Connecticut tops the list of highest-paying states with an average annual wage of $276,540.

Is CRNA higher than NP? ›

As senior healthcare positions, both CRNAs and NPs often earn competitive salaries. However, working as a CRNA is the more lucrative career path. The average salary for a nurse practitioner is $113,484 per year , while the average certified registered nurse anesthetist makes $176,509 per year .

What is the lowest a CRNA can make? ›

According to the website, an entry-level nurse anesthetist will command an annual salary of $120,581, while a senior CRNA will earn $220,557.

Who makes more money CRNA or AA? ›

Rough estimates have anesthesiologists earning an average of $360,000. And that's contingent upon successfully completing a residency in anesthesiology. While CRNAs on the other hand(specialty nurses in anesthesiology) average about $170,000, which is more than some primary care doctors.

Does CRNA require lots of math? ›

You should be good at math in order to perform biometric calculations on the spot while monitoring patients. You will also need to excel at multi-tasking and following complicated directions. A certified registered nurse anesthetist should always be on alert and ready to step in when needed.

Can you go to CRNA school without ICU experience? ›

Why is ICU experience important for applicants? All CRNA programs require some ICU experience. Those applying for admission who possess comprehensive intensive care unit (ICU) experience are better equipped to handle the demanding program of study and are thus considered more competitive candidates for admission.

Can a CRNA make 300k? ›

Yes. Nurse anesthetists can make $300,000 a year, or close to that figure. In upstate New York, one of the top-paying nonmetropolitan areas for nurse anesthetists, CRNAs earn $261,730 annually.

How many hours do CRNA work? ›

A certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) typically works two 24-hour long shifts per week. There are some settings which a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) may work 8 or 12-hour shifts, but 24-hour shifts are also common.

Why are nurse anesthetists paid so much? ›

The average CRNA salary is so high because the position requires very advanced knowledge and skills. While many nursing positions only require that you have a Bachelor's degree, or even an Associate's degree, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists need at least their Master's of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree.

Can a CRNA work as an RN? ›

Am I able to practice in the RN role? What practice standards will I need to meet? The CRNA may practice as an RN with an active RN license in the state if the role is within the scope of RN practice in the facility and state, and if the CRNA has all of the current core competencies for the specific RN role.

Is CRNA harder than Doctor? ›

MD Degree. While the CRNA degree is challenging, most health care professionals would agree that medical school for doctors is far more rigorous.

How many hours a week do CRNA study? ›

Becoming a nurse anesthetist is very demanding. Students should expect to devote up to 70 hours per week to program requirements including clinical experiences, class time and study time.

How many questions is the CRNA exam? ›

Passing the 3-hour CRNA board requires successful completion of a minimum of 100 questions (and up to 170 questions) across four subject areas: Basic sciences (25%) Equipment, instrumentation, and technology (15%) General principles of anesthesia (30%)

Is 40 too old to become a CRNA? ›

Am I too OLD to go back for CRNA? It's a very common question asked inside our communities, and the decision can feel really overwhelming. The good news is, whether you're looking at a career change, or just getting a later start, CRNA is a total possibility for you!

How stressful is CRNA? ›

Stress expected: "Stressful and emergency situations are inherent to working in the field," the website continued. Brutal hours: CRNAs may be part of the upper echelon of nurses, but they can still work crummy schedules and spend lots of time on call.

Is becoming a CRNA worth it? ›

Yes, becoming a CRNA is worth it.

As of May 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the mean annual average salary for nurse anesthetists in the United States was over $183,000 in a year. Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are the highest paid of all nursing specialties.

How old are most CRNAs? ›

The average age of an employed certified registered nurse anesthetist is 44 years old.
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Gender By Year.
7 more rows
Sep 9, 2022

Is there a CRNA shortage? ›

According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), some 2,400 CRNAs graduate each year, while the BLS projects that only 7,600 new CRNA positions will be needed by 2028.

Do you need a masters or doctorate to be a CRNA? ›

Certified registered nursing anesthetists currently need a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to practice. But in a change supported by the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA), all new CRNAs will need a doctoral degree to enter the field in 2025.

Which state is the hardest to become a nurse? ›

  • MAINE. ...
  • ALASKA. ...
  • Georgia. ...
  • Alabama. ...
  • Hawaii. ...
  • South Carolina. ...
  • Kentucky. ...
  • Summary. There are a few cases when temporary licenses can be obtained through the state board of nursing.
Nov 14, 2022

Is it better to be a CRNA or anesthesiologist? ›

According to the New York Times, two studies conducted in 2010, “... Concluded that there is no significant difference in the quality of care when the anesthetic is delivered by a certified registered nurse anesthetist or by an anesthesiologist.”

What is the biggest issue facing CRNAs? ›

Burnout. Perhaps the biggest challenge that CRNAs face is the mental and physical fatigue from the job.

Can you work while in a CRNA program? ›

Will I be able to work during the program? Due to the rigorous nature of the nurse anesthesia program, employment is discouraged. To promote patient safety and student wellbeing, the student is not permitted to work within ten hours of the start of a clinical shift.

Can you be both NP and CRNA? ›

The short answer to this question is yes. You can choose to become a CRNA if you are a nurse practitioner.

Is a CRNA a type of nurse practitioner? ›

Both nurse practitioners and certified registered nurse anesthetists belong in the category of advanced practice registered nurses. However, each role has specific clinical responsibilities.

How much does a CRNA job pay? ›

Among the different types of registered nurses, nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are among of the highest paid on average. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurse anesthetists earn an average salary of $202,470 per year ($97.34 per hour).

Who are the highest paid nurses? ›

Highest Paid Nursing Jobs:
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist – $202,000.
  • Nursing Administrator – $120,000.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse – $120,000.
  • General Nurse Practitioner – $118,000.
  • Critical Care Nurse – $118,000.
  • Certified Nurse Midwife – $114,000.
  • Informatics Nurse – $102,000.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist – $95,000.
Dec 5, 2022

Do grades matter in CRNA school? ›

2) Maintain good grades

To be considered competitive for CRNA school you should aim to have a 3.5 or higher.

What can an anesthesiologist do that a CRNA Cannot? ›

Anesthesiologists can practice independently and supervise CRNAs and anesthesia assistants anywhere they practice. CRNAs may only practice independently if their state allows full-practice authority and CRNA-only models. Otherwise, they practice under the supervision of an anesthesiologist.

Are CRNA in high demand? ›

Yes, CRNAs are in very high demand.

The demand for certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) is higher than ever, with projected employment rates for nurse anesthetists expected to grow by 14% over the next ten years.

Can a CRNA become an anesthesiologist? ›

CRNAs have the same options for the practice of medicine that any medical student does. If she wants to remain in her current field, she could choose to become an anesthesiologist. Subspecialties of anesthesiology are also available, according to the American Board of Medical Specialties.

How long did it take you to become a CRNA? ›

CRNAs are only required to earn their bachelor's degree, spend a year working in critical care, then complete a CRNA program which takes about 2-3 years. Nurse Anesthetists work in a variety of medical offices, such as hospitals, outpatient care centers, and doctor's offices.

How long does it take a CRNA to become an anesthesiologist? ›

After becoming a registered nurse, a nurse must complete 1 year of acute-care nursing. Then the nurse must enter a graduate program that leads to a master's degree as well as certification as a nurse anesthesiologist. The graduate program usually takes from 24 to 36 months.

Do nurse anesthetists go to med school? ›

Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are required to complete an undergraduate degree, become a registered nurse, get one year of critical care experience, then complete a CRNA degree program, which can be from 28 – 36 months long.

What is the difference between CRNA and anesthesiologist? ›

The main difference between CRNAs and anesthesiologists is that CRNAs are nurses while anesthesiologists are physicians. CRNAs have a three-year degree in nursing (DNP or MSN) while anesthesiologists have a four-year medical degree and spent an additional four years in residency.

How many hours do a CRNA usually work? ›

Typical Work Schedule

Most nurse anesthetists or certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) work full-time with 40 – 50 working hours per week. Similar to other medical jobs, nurses work on rotating 8 – 10 hours shifts including evenings, weekends and holidays.

How old is the youngest CRNA? ›

People can graduate from CRNA school or be in CRNA school at 25 or 24 years old. The youngest girl in my class was 24 years old. She was done when she was 26.

Can a CRNA work without an anesthesiologist? ›

In California, Harris practices at the full scope of practice without physician supervision restrictions or other barriers to care. California is one of only 19 states that allow CRNAs to practice independently.

Can a CRNA call themselves an anesthesiologist? ›

CRNAs are educated to be and practice as experts in the field of anesthesiology; therefore, the term “nurse anesthesiologist” is consistent, clarifying, and appropriate to describe a CRNA.

Do nurse anesthetists do math? ›

You should be good at math in order to perform biometric calculations on the spot while monitoring patients. You will also need to excel at multi-tasking and following complicated directions. A certified registered nurse anesthetist should always be on alert and ready to step in when needed.

Why do nurse anesthetists make so much? ›

CRNAs can expect an average annual salary of about $189,000 or $90 per hour. This is much, much higher than the national average salary, and is one of the highest paying jobs for nurses. This is largely due to the high skill-set certified registered nurse anesthetists need in order to do this specific nursing job well.

Can nurse anesthetists be called doctors? ›

So, the short answer is yes – a DNP nurse may be referred to as "doctor," however, some states have legislation surrounding this. For example, Arizona and Delaware forbid nurses, pharmacists, and other professionals from using the "doctor" title, unless they immediately clarify their role.

Does a CRNA intubate? ›

The responsibilities and duties of a CRNA may vary depending on the setting, but in all cases, a CRNA can provide high level local and general anesthetics, intubate, and perform epidural, spinal and nerve blocks.

Is it better to be a CRNA or an AA? ›

Despite differences in prerequisite requirements between AA and CRNA training programs, there is no evidence that differences exist in either care team members ability to attain necessary clinical skills, knowledge, and complete education training in either program.

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