Anesthesiologist Overview: Education & Job Outlook

The complete guide to anesthesiologist programs, certification, careers and advancement opportunities.
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Anesthesiologist Career Facts

What is an Anesthesiologist and What do They do?

Anesthesiologists administer anesthesia and monitor the patient’s progress, as well as assisting with difficult operations or other surgeries that might be difficult without the use of anesthesia.

Anesthesiologists are physicians who administer anesthetics to patients during surgery. They consult with the surgical team and monitor the patient during an operation. They may also provide pain relief for patients in the operating room, during labor and delivery, and in intensive care units. They may also be involved in resuscitation or life-support.

Where do Anesthesiologists Work?

Anesthesiologists work with other physicians as part of a team in hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, pain management offices, surgical suites, clinics, intensive care units, and other clinics. They often have an anesthesiologist assistant and or an anesthesiologist tech working under their supervision.

A Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree, followed by a Residency in Anesthesiology is the standard training for Anesthesiologists.

Anesthesiologists are physicians who specialize in managing pain and preventing and relieving suffering. They may provide anesthesia for a wide range of conditions that require a delicate balance of monitoring and administration. Anesthesiologists work in a variety of clinical settings, but typically do not provide primary care to patients. They work closely with other medical professionals, such as surgeons, nurses, and dentists, to ensure safe and effective anesthesia care.

Anesthesiologists complete medical school and graduate school and complete a residency in anesthesiology. They take the necessary examination given by the American Board of Anesthesiology and must be recertified every 10 years.

How Can I Become an Anesthesiologist?

Anesthesiology is one of the most competitive specialties in all of medicine and requires substantial education and training before employment. Acceptance rates to anesthesiology residency programs are usually in the single digits.

Anesthesiologists are licensed doctors who specialize in medicine, administration, and surgery with an emphasis on anesthesia, which is the medical field of administration of the drugs. Anesthesiologists are not required to be on scene in the operating room.

To become an Anesthesiologist, you need to complete a bachelor’s degree and an MD or DO degree. The bachelor’s degree can be in any subject, but the MD or DO degree should be in science.

What are the Educational Requirements to Become an Anesthesiologist?

The educational requirements to become an Anesthesiologist come in three forms, the first two of which are mandatory, the last of which is optional. The first requirement is an undergraduate degree in one of the sciences or mathematics. The second requirement is the completion of medical school. The last requirement is the completion of a 3-year residency in anesthesiology.

The duration of an Anesthesiologist education is typically four years after an undergraduate degree and includes four years of medical school, 3-5 years of residency, and one to two years for fellowship.

Anesthesiologist Job Description

The anesthesiologist is responsible for administering anesthesia to patients before, during, and after surgery. This requires the anesthesiologist to understand the patient’s medical history, evaluate their physical condition, and make recommendations for the type of anesthesia that will be used. The job may also include waking up the patient after surgery.


  • Administering anesthesia to patients before, during, and after surgery
  • Evaluating the patient’s medical history and physical condition to determine what type of anesthesia they should receive
  • Providing recommendations for postoperative pain management
  • Answering questions about side effects of anesthesia
    Waking up patients after surgery
  • Recommending appropriate tests or treatments to follow up with after surgery.

What is an Anesthesiologist Assistant and What are Their Responsibilities?

An anesthesia assistant is a certified member of the medical team who is licensed to assist the anesthesia team with the administration of anesthesia to the patient. They are typically are present in operating rooms to monitor vital signs during surgery.

Anesthesia Assistants are usually nurses who are trained to assist anesthesiologists during surgery. Patients are usually given anesthesia to lessen discomfort or numb them for surgery. The anesthesia assistant monitors the anesthesia machine, observes the patient during surgery, and helps to provide information to the surgeon about the patient’s condition.

An anesthesia assistant is someone who assists the anesthesiologist during all phases of surgery. They may pre-assist (help with equipment), perform anesthesia (administer anesthesia to the patient), and post-anesthetic care (assist the patient after surgery).

Anesthesia Assistants provide assistance to anesthesiologists and surgeons during both routine and complex surgeries.

  • They set up and maintain anesthesia equipment and monitor patient vital signs during surgery
  • They prepare and inject intravenous and inhaled anesthesia and may become CPR certified
  • They involve in the maintenance of anesthetic equipment
  • They often work with surgeons and anesthesiologists on the development of new methods for administering anesthesia

What is an Anesthesiologist Technician and How are they Different from Assistants?

Anesthesiologist Technicians only require a certificate or associate degree to begin working where Anesthesiologist Assistants require a Master’s degree.

In addition to more education requirements, assistants will have more job responsibilities and receive higher compensation.

What are the Education Requirements to Become an Anesthesiologist Assistant?

To become an anesthesiologist assistant, one must have a four-year college degree. You should take a pre-medical curriculum, consisting of general and organic chemistry, advanced college math, and general and advanced biology and physics.

The bachelor’s degree is just a start. You can apply to a master’s program in anesthesia after completing your undergraduate course work. Anesthesia Assistant Master’s Programs are accredited by the CAAHEP.

The National Commission for Certification of Anesthesiologist Assistants (NCCAA) administers the national exam that must be passed upon completion of a CAAHEP accredited anesthesia program.

Anesthesiologist Assistant Job Description

Anesthesia Assistants provide anesthesia for surgical procedures under the supervision of anesthesiologists. They are responsible for monitoring patient vital signs, administering anesthetic gases and other drugs, and maintaining equipment in working order.


  1. Administer anesthesia to patients undergoing a surgical procedure
  2. Monitor patient vital signs during a surgical procedure
  3. Monitor equipment in use during a surgical procedure
  4. Ensure that the patient is properly positioned for the surgical procedure
  5. Prepare and administer anesthetic gases or other drugs as directed by the anesthesiologist
  6. Maintain equipment used during a surgical procedure in working order
  7. Teach patients about the effects of anesthesia and postoperative care
  8. Assist in the postoperative recovery period, including discharge from hospital or rehab center, if applicable

What Other Skills are Important?

Besides the obvious skills related to the field, communication skills are very important. Anesthesiologist assistants should also be able to problem-solve, be flexible, take initiative, and be analytical.

What Workplace Settings do Anesthesiologist Assistants Work In?

Anesthesiologist assistants typically work in many different workplace settings including hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental offices, doctors’ offices, veterinary hospitals, business offices, pain clinics, or in any other profession where anesthesia is needed.

Anesthesiologist assistants will work with patients who are undergoing surgeries, diagnostic testing, or other medical procedures. They provide information related to anesthesia and observe the patient before, during, and after the procedure.

An anesthesiologist is an excellent career choice. If you love the challenge and its rewards, you may want to begin your education and become an anesthesiologist or an anesthesiologist assistant or tech. Click the blue Find Schools button to compare anesthesiology programs online and nearby.

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