Paying Off in the Balance

One of the first things that attracts someone to a CRNA program is a nurse anesthetist salaries. However, before you decide that being a CRNA is for you, make sure you learn all the requirements and balances that make a top salary possible.


Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNA) must have a Bachelor’s degree in nursing and be a registered nurse. They are also required to have a two year Master’s Degree in Anesthesia and a year of internship. This heavy requirement means a CRNA must work steadily both on their education and the requirements of certification in order to get with the license to provide anesthesia.

The Plusses

There are a lot of good things about being a CRNA. You work with the supervision of an Anesthesiologist or MD Anesthetist so you always have an expert available to help you with any needs. The median salary for a CRNA is higher than any other nursing certification at $146,000 a year. In states where CRNA’s can have their own business, they can become independent contractors, pulling in a larger salary than the median and working for themselves. They often have different hours than that of a regular nurse and have more control over their schedule and on-call nights.

The Balance

There are some less positive things that go into the life of a CRNA. The primary concern for them is lawsuits. Anesthesia providers are one of the first people to get sued if anything goes wrong with the surgery and have extremely high malpractice insurance rates because of the risk. If the CRNA is an independent contractor, the hospital or surgeon will not cover legal costs for the CRNA.

Also, some hospitals only use anesthesiologists. As the hospital system advertises “all doctor anesthesia” that means more CRNA’s don’t have places to work.

The Likelihood

Most CRNA’s end up being hospitalists – which means they work for a hospital under a doctor and provide anesthesia for procedures and outpatient surgery. They make about $150,000 a year and are given a schedule of work by the hospital. That usually means more hours and more nights on call than independent work, but they get hospital benefits, insurance, malpractice coverage and other perks that make the job worth having.

Other Opportunities

Beyond working in the hospital for procedures and surgery, CRNA’s also work with dentists and oral surgeons, sports medicine trainers, orthopedists and other medical services that use anesthesia as part of their treatment. These opportunities allow a nurse anesthetist to specialize in a particular field which can yield them both an increase in salary as well as other benefits.

In a world with a nurse shortage and a need for more people to have procedures that require anesthesia, CRNA’s make an excellent living and provide a valuable service to American health care.