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How to Become an Anesthesiologist Assistant

What Does an Anesthesiologist Assistant Do?

anesthesiologist assistant administering anesthesia

Anesthesiologist assistants occupy a growing segment of the health care community. As valued members of the anesthesia care team, these professionals provide very important assistance to the anesthesiologist in treating patients before and after surgery. The work of an anesthesiologist assistant (or AA) directly contributes to the success of surgical operations by ensuring the comfort and wellbeing of the patient.

AAs perform their duties under the direct supervision and discretion of the supervising medical anesthesiologist.

Chief responsibilities include:

  • Conducting physical exams and pre-procedure interviews
  • Proposing anesthesia care plans to the anesthesiologist
  • Administering general or local anesthesia
  • Monitoring patients under anesthesia
  • Inserting invasive monitoring devices
  • Operating advanced life support systems

The assistants spend a portion of their workday conducting important administrative procedures such as database management tasks and collecting patient data. Additionally, most AAs conduct post-anesthesia rounds on recovering patients.

Though the profession has existed in healthcare for over four decades, at this time not all states allow anesthesiologist assistants to practice; prospective AAs should check the statutes in the state where they plan to work.

Workplace Details

Anesthesiologist assistants generally find employment in hospitals in the surgical and emergency care departments. Sterile, cool, and brightly illuminated operating rooms are the normal work environment for AAs. They conduct much of their work on their feet and are often on call on weekends and evenings. Reporting to the supervising anesthesiologist, AAs are subject to close scrutiny and direction. Like all professionals with duties surrounding the operating room, anesthesiologist assistants painstakingly follow strict protocols in order maximize the success of the patient’s complete recovery.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
New York
$107030
California
$110860
Texas
$97420
Pennsylvania
$92860
Florida
$103200

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

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ALABAMA

Median Salary: 
$94,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $55,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $129,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 33%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$58,560$95,210$123,460

ALASKA

Median Salary: 
$109,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $75,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $149,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$83,240$111,300$152,410
Fairbanks$50,510$92,210$150,370

ARIZONA

Median Salary: 
$98,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $40,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $132,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$38,620$97,860$131,470
Tuscon$66,350$91,290$119,720

ARKANSAS

Median Salary: 
$74,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $28,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $121,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 38%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$32,540$74,780$119,050

CALIFORNIA

Median Salary: 
$109,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $49,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $159,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 34%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 560

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$33,290$98,560$154,340
San Francisco Bay$86,940$117,530$157,540
San Diego$60,290$104,620$169,100
Sacramento$81,690$117,430$162,420

COLORADO

Median Salary: 
$96,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $70,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $125,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 51%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 150

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$69,500$96,890$125,590
Colorado Springs$77,210$91,380$123,860

CONNECTICUT

Median Salary: 
$111,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $83,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $148,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$85,130$111,800$143,450
Bridgeport$60,120$107,270$139,870
New Haven$88,580$112,830$152,290

DELAWARE

Median Salary: 
$105,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $84,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $150,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 24%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$83,440$101,920$139,650
Dover$87,250$131,660$157,220

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Median Salary: 
$103,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $55,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $136,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$55,510$99,300$137,100

FLORIDA

Median Salary: 
$97,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $70,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $144,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 45%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 340

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$80,390$100,580$153,350
Orlando$69,080$96,220$132,810
Tampa$67,040$91,670$146,320
Jacksonville$60,500$100,030$125,250

GEORGIA

Median Salary: 
$95,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $66,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $134,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 51%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 190

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$71,100$97,210$137,600
Augusta$30,050$82,930$108,880

HAWAII

Median Salary: 
$92,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $119,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$62,630$95,490$121,160

IDAHO

Median Salary: 
$94,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $73,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $136,400

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$78,330$94,280$123,170
Idaho Falls$74,190$100,050Over $187,200

ILLINOIS

Median Salary: 
$90,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $30,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $132,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$29,850$88,040$126,500
Rockford$39,150$97,150$127,670

INDIANA

Median Salary: 
$94,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $64,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $139,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$62,540$94,280$122,240
South Bend$80,430$143,730Over $187,200
Fort Wayne$76,710$131,760$154,130

IOWA

Median Salary: 
$95,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $51,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $128,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des Moines$41,960$94,590$119,820
Cedar Rapids$79,040$126,160Over $187,200

KANSAS

Median Salary: 
$95,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $67,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $128,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 21%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$65,210$85,940$111,070
Kansas City$72,610$103,180$146,140

KENTUCKY

Median Salary: 
$94,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $76,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $133,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 39%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$79,930$94,360$131,610
Lexington$75,010$91,600$120,030

LOUISIANA

Median Salary: 
$89,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $29,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $137,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 27%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$29,340$88,840$138,560
Baton Rouge$65,770$106,290$144,170
Lafayette$25,880$29,390$90,340

MAINE

Median Salary: 
$101,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $79,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $137,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$79,690$100,840$132,870
Lewiston$78,310$99,370$123,540

MARYLAND

Median Salary: 
$94,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $35,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $128,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 32%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 190

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$33,780$91,320$122,650
Frederick$77,630$107,800$149,000

MASSACHUSETTS

Median Salary: 
$104,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $64,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $147,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$62,090$104,710$145,780
Worcester$74,530$99,770$127,220
Springfield$47,570$99,420$145,290

MICHIGAN

Median Salary: 
$95,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $39,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $136,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 19%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 160

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$28,630$88,480$121,480
Grand Rapids$82,930$108,370$156,030

MINNESOTA

Median Salary: 
$105,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $82,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $140,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$80,210$102,580$140,690
Rochester$93,060$116,280$143,890

MISSISSIPPI

Median Salary: 
$33,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $26,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $98,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Jackson$25,710$30,080$90,490

MISSOURI

Median Salary: 
$93,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $33,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $149,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$31,420$95,270$153,140
Kansas City$72,610$103,180$146,140

MONTANA

Median Salary: 
$95,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $69,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $131,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 27%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Billings$73,920$95,620$122,930
Missoula$30,720$89,580$126,890

NEBRASKA

Median Salary: 
$92,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $67,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $122,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$66,750$91,260$119,920
Lincoln$66,940$95,010$154,610

NEVADA

Median Salary: 
$104,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $79,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): Over $187,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 47%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$82,400$111,200Over $187,200
Reno$32,340$93,200$126,650

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Median Salary: 
$109,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $83,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $152,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Manchester$83,260$107,600$150,030
Nashua$86,890$113,590$182,850

NEW JERSEY

Median Salary: 
$108,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $76,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $152,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$82,770$101,400$145,810
Trenton$71,600$97,960$137,940

NEW MEXICO

Median Salary: 
$98,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $66,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $150,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$70,020$96,170$139,070

NEW YORK

Median Salary: 
$101,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $77,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $130,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 27%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 570

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$80,600$104,520$140,130
Buffalo$78,190$93,300$120,610
Rochester$76,080$93,630$130,250
Albany$74,850$94,120$121,150

NORTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$95,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $74,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $127,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 35%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 230

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$76,150$93,950$122,270
Raleigh$75,990$97,100$127,580
Greensboro$71,300$96,860$124,590
Winston - Salem$80,360$95,330$122,760

NORTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$99,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $80,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $180,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 31%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Bismarck$78,950$90,420$110,630

OHIO

Median Salary: 
$101,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $77,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $144,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 28%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$84,120$108,580$141,940
Columbus$82,770$102,650$160,180
Cincinnati$71,350$93,420$122,690
Dayton$85,780$106,360$167,720

OKLAHOMA

Median Salary: 
$102,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $63,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $144,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 22%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$61,540$98,590$142,790
Tulsa$70,580$106,880$137,190

OREGON

Median Salary: 
$104,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $78,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $142,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 35%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$75,330$110,730$148,550
Salem$74,890$98,160$130,980

PENNSYLVANIA

Median Salary: 
$88,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $122,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 220

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$47,830$92,770$132,550
Pittsburgh$64,860$86,000$109,550
Harrisburg$45,320$86,190$121,830
Allentown$63,370$89,230$120,470

RHODE ISLAND

Median Salary: 
$108,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $71,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $157,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$69,340$105,010$157,060

SOUTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$87,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $38,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $122,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 26%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Greenville$56,840$89,240$129,330
Columbia$19,220$89,490$116,100
Charleston$55,410$86,230$124,820

SOUTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$95,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $75,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $123,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Sioux Falls$79,550$96,580$124,530
Rapid City$75,120$91,820$119,890

TENNESSEE

Median Salary: 
$87,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $51,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $127,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 44%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 80

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$53,720$79,820$121,030
Memphis$32,540$67,920$116,470
Knoxville$65,980$94,480$137,190
Chattanooga$61,260$90,900$114,740

TEXAS

Median Salary: 
$101,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $41,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $138,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 43%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 390

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$36,960$100,590$129,450
Houston$38,710$102,880$131,730
San Antonio$53,720$93,860$124,950
Austin$67,630$95,110$131,540

UTAH

Median Salary: 
$94,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $38,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $149,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 42%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 60

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Salt Lake City$50,390$92,530$142,700
Ogden$86,500$119,000Over $187,200

VERMONT

Median Salary: 
$104,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $83,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $153,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Burlington$81,990$105,890$144,240

VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$90,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $55,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $123,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 40%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 130

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$55,940$86,250$111,450
Richmond$72,150$102,970$127,990

WASHINGTON

Median Salary: 
$107,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $77,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $151,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 110

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$79,320$111,050$152,910
Spokane$73,830$101,550$154,240

WEST VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$90,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $63,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $127,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$66,040$95,550$124,870
Charleston$35,810$87,660$106,970

WISCONSIN

Median Salary: 
$93,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $66,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $122,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 70

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$65,970$87,030$112,970
Madison$81,810$98,290$126,570

WYOMING

Median Salary: 
$100,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $81,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $142,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 30%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cheyenne$78,000$107,710$129,440
Casper$72,130$100,010$151,870

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median salary for all physician assistants – which includes anesthesiologist assistants but doesn’t focus on them specifically – is $101,480. The lowest 10% of physician assistants earn an estimated $65,620, while the highest 10% earn closer to $142,210.

According to the AMA, in 2006 (the most recent job-specific data) anesthesiologist assistants earn from $95,000 to $120,000 per year. Credentialing and experience may increase an annual salary to anywhere from $160,000 to $180,000.

Salary.com estimates that physician assistants practicing in a surgical context earn an average $108,913 annually, compared to physician assistants overall who could expect an average salary of $93,855.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that job growth for all physician assistants (including anesthesiologist assistants) will be a robust 30% from 2014-2024. As this is much faster than average job growth, the outlook for this career is very good.

Compare Salaries by City

New York City NY Median Pay

$104520 Per Year

$50.25 Per Hour

Atlanta GA Median Pay

$97210 Per Year

$46.73 Per Hour

Steps to Become an Anesthesiologist Assistant

1

Earn a bachelor's degree.

Prior to obtaining a master’s degree, students should obtain a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in the sciences such as chemistry and biology. If possible, undergrads should attend an accredited college or university with a good science or pre-med program. This is a competitive field and excellent academics are required for entry into medical programs. The required GPA for many institutions is 3.0, although applicants may find that they need a minimum of 3.4 in order to get accepted.

Show Me Schools »

2

Take the GRE or MCAT.

Students preparing for graduate school should take the GRE or MCAT. Depending upon the school, one of these pre-admission tests is required. (Either test can be retaken to achieve a higher score.)

3

Gain exposure to the operating room.

Most schools require a minimum number of job-shadowing hours with an anesthesia care team (or ACT) before approving admission to the graduate program. Students may meet this requirement on their own during college clinical work or through networking with former instructors. Others opt for an alternate approach of contacting a local operating room (OR) supervisor, as these health care professionals sometimes work with the anesthesia department to arrange for job-shadowing opportunities.

4

Attend graduate school to earn your master's degree.

This profession requires a master’s degree. Make sure that you apply to an accredited school that grants anesthesiologist assistant degrees. The American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants lists the ten or so schools that offer a master’s program in this area. Programs offering a Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN) in anesthesia are completely different, requiring a bachelor’s degree in nursing prior to admission. Prospective anesthesiologist assistants should talk to the school’s career counselor advisor at every level of education in order to avoid costly mistakes.

The AA program takes a full 24 months to complete, and only full-time study is allowed. The program itself is rigorous and requires long, demanding hours, especially during the clinical component. Didactic and clinical classes may be scheduled seven days per week on occasion. The two years of this program afford students only a limited number of short, scheduled breaks.

5

Become certified.

In order to practice, anesthesiologist assistants must be board certified by the National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA). Instituted in 1989, the NCCAA oversees the six-year certification process for AAs in the United States. Certification requires passing an initial certifying exam, meeting continuing education requirements, and passing a recertification exam every 6 years.

6

Grow your career.

Although entry-level employment in this field requires a master’s degree and certification, there are opportunities for advancement as an anesthesiologist assistant. With experience come opportunities to assume leadership positions (such as head anesthetist, for example) within a department or facility. Becoming a faculty member and teaching anesthesiologist assistant students is another promising path for an experienced AA. AA professional bodies and advocacy groups often hire AAs who have significant experience and a desire to educate others in the community while strengthening their field through leadership.

Exploring the Degree Path

MASTER OF MEDICAL SCIENCE IN ANESTHESIA

6 years total

To become an anesthesiologist assistant, you’ll need to earn first a bachelor’s degree, then a Master of Medical Science degree in anesthesia.

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Your bachelor’s can be in any subject so long as you meet certain prerequisites. These vary a bit between programs and are similar to medical school admissions requirements:

  • 2 semesters each of biology, chemistry, and physics (all with lab)
  • 2 semesters of college math, including calculus
  • 1–2 semesters each of human anatomy and physiology, organic chemistry, and english
  • Some programs require additional coursework in biochemistry, cellular biology, molecular biology, and statistics. (These are also helpful courses if you plan to take the MCAT).

Admission to anesthesiologist assistant master’s programs is highly competitive. To increase the strength of your application, it’s important to maintain a high GPA, especially in your prerequisite courses.

Most anesthesiologist assistant programs also require applicants to take the GRE or MCAT. A high score can strengthen your application, especially if your grades are less competitive.

As you’re wrapping up your bachelor’s degree, your next step will be to apply to Master of Medical Science (MMSc) in anesthesia. There are currently 11 accredited anesthesiologist assistant master’s programs in the United States. Most are housed within medical schools.

Anesthesiologist assistant training is very rigorous. Students attend classes and complete extensive clinical rotations. Expect to be a full-time student with no outside job for the duration of the program.

The anesthesiologist assistant curriculum includes courses in:

Airway management

Learn about techniques and equipment that help patients breathe during surgery.

Anesthesia delivery systems and equipment

Study the use and maintenance of compressed gas, anesthesia machines, ventilators, and resuscitation equipment.

Pharmacology

Gain an understanding of drugs used to manage pain and alter consciousness during medical procedures.

Patient monitoring

Practice using anesthesia instrumentation to monitor blood pressure, pulse oximetry, heart function, and respiration.

Anesthesiologist assistant students also complete extensive clinical rotations. These typically begin during year one and increase dramatically in year two. Settings include hospital operating rooms, outpatient surgery centers, pain management services, and preoperative clinics. Students also gain experience in specialty areas like obstetric and pediatric anesthesia.

Keys to Success as an Anesthesiologist Assistant

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Teamwork and interpersonal skills

Since they’re part of a team operating in a high-stress environment, anesthesiologist assistants must be good team players who listen and work well with others.

Attention to detail

AAs must be very diligent, observant and capable of following critical instructions from the anesthesiologist.

Dedication to caring for others

High-quality patient care always requires compassion, open-mindedness, tolerance and empathy.

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