How to Become an Anesthesiologist

Anesthesiologist Key Stats
Avg. Salary / year $348,350
Avg. Pay / hour $167.48
Education 4+ Years
Job Outlook 4%

An anesthesiologist is a preoperative physician who specializes in the administration, dosage, monitoring, and after effects of local and general aesthetic on a patient.

To become an anesthesiologist, you’ll need to have very strong academic skills, an interest in health and science, and good interpersonal skills.

An anesthesiologist is a medical doctor who undergoes a further residency of two to three years to complete their training.

They consult with a patient prior to a surgery to work out the dosage and types of anesthesia which are appropriate for each individual.

During an operation they will administer anesthesia along with other drugs, and monitor the patient’s conditions, paying particular attention to their vital signs.

Education Requirements to Become an Anesthesiologist

To become an anesthesiologist, you will need to complete at least twelve years of training.

While on the outside, the job description of an anesthesiologist may seem simple, it is in fact a very complicated job, where a slight error can have grave consequences.

Anesthesiology, like many fields of medicine, can be highly competitive.

During your education you will need to work hard to get the grades that will qualify you for a place in college, medical school, and later in placement.

Be prepared for long hours of study, and later demanding work hours while you complete your specialization.

First of all, you’ll need good grades in high school.

At college, you will want to enroll in a four year bachelor degree with a good pre-medicine program.

You’ll need a strong grade point average in order to then gain a place in medical school.

This will take another four years to complete.

After you finish medical school, you will need to complete a residency in anesthesiology.

This will take a further four years and allow you to practice as an anesthesiologist.

You may wish to take a fellowship of a further one to three years which will grant you a sub-specialization.

Anesthesiologist Job Description

When you become an anesthesiologist your primary role is to provide a patient with anesthetic or other pain relief, during a surgery.

Anesthesiology is seen as been preoperative, meaning that an anesthesiologist works with a patient before, during, and after a surgery.

Before a surgery, an anesthesiologist will meet with a patient.

The type of operation, current medications, age, gender, and weight are all taken into consideration.

Each person will need a different type and dosage of anesthetic during an operation.

During the surgery the anesthesiologist will stay close by to monitor the surgery often working with a nurse or assistant.

A patient’s vital signs are closely monitored; if problems arise the anesthesiologist will be there to solve them.

Afterwards, the anesthesiologist will check on a patient and monitor their recovery.

They will also give advice about some of the side-effects of the anesthetic wearing off, if applicable.

Here are some of the tasks an anesthesiologist could be responsible for:

  • Analyzing a patient’s statistics
  • Speaking with a patient about their medical history
  • Selecting the type and dosage of anesthetic
  • Administering anesthetic
  • Monitoring a patient during a surgery
  • Problem Solving
  • Monitoring a patient after surgery
  • Providing information to a patient

Anesthesiologist Salary and Career Path

Nearly all anesthesiologists work in health care, mostly in public and private hospitals, and some in day surgery centers.

Many work in teaching and also in research.

Job prospects for a qualified anesthesiologist are good, and traditionally there has been a shortage of professionals trained in this role.

Currently, according to, the median wage for an anesthesiologist is $220,000 a year.

Going on to earn a further sub-specialization would mean achieving an even higher salary.

Many anesthesiologists begin their career working with patients that are having surgery.

Some may move on to administrative and supervisory roles within the medical sector.

Others move on to complete research projects, or to teach at colleges.

Similar roles to an anesthesiologist include:

If you’re interested in health and medicine, want to work closely with patients, and enjoy study then you might like to become an anesthesiologist.

While this is a challenging career path, you will be rewarded in return with excellent job security and very high salary.

BLSThe below information is based on the 2021 BLS national averages.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$355,780
New Hampshire$#
New Jersey$#
New York$307,580
North Carolina$223,750
South Carolina$#
South Dakota$#
West Virginia$344,930

The top earning state in the field is Florida, where the average salary is $363,570.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Florida - $363,570
Pennsylvania - $360,790
District of Columbia - $355,780
Wisconsin - $355,050
Massachusetts - $349,860
* Salary information based on the May 2021 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Anesthesiologists, OCC Code 29-1211, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an anesthesiologist?

Anesthesiologists are doctors specialized in developing anesthetic plans and administering anesthetics.

Their main role is to ensure that patients who undergo surgery are safe and don’t feel any pain.

They establish the anesthetic plan together with surgeons and patients.

In some cases, anesthesiologists use general anesthesia, while in others they choose sedation or regional anesthesia.

After administering the anesthesia, the anesthesiologist remains with the patient throughout the surgery to monitor the patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and level of sedation.

Anesthesiologists need a variety of skills, including compassion, communication skills, dexterity, patience, and problem-solving skills.

Like all physicians, anesthesiologists may have to work long hours and be on-call outside normal business hours.

How much does an anesthesiologist make?

The median annual wage for anesthesiologists was $267,020 as of May 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Salaries in this field vary based on a wide range of factors, including the physician’s level of experience, the employer and the region of employment.

How much does it cost to become an anesthesiologist?

Like all physicians, anesthesiologists need many years of training before being able to practice.

After earning their bachelor’s degree future anesthesiologists must enroll at a medical school.

One year of medical school can cost anywhere between $30,000-$60,000 at a public university and even more at a private institution.

In order to prepare for the Medical College Admission Test, most prospective medical students choose to major in biology, chemistry or a related field in college.

A pre-med college program can cost anywhere between $15,000 and more than $60,000 a year.

What is the demand for anesthesiologists?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for anesthesiologists is expected to grow by 4 percent from 2018 to 2028.

Demand for physicians, in general, can vary region by region and year by year, as the demand for medical services is sensitive to changes in healthcare reimbursement.

Anesthesiologists will continue to be needed in order to monitor patients who undergo surgery.

How long does it take to become an anesthesiologist?

Anesthesiologists need around 12 years of training beyond high school, which includes four years of college, four years of medical school, and 4 years of residency.

Medical school students usually spend their first 2 years learning in laboratories and classrooms while the last 2 years are spent working with patients under the supervision of experienced physicians.

To be allowed to practice, anesthesiologists also need a state license.

To qualify for a license, you must graduate from an accredited medical school, complete your residency and you must also pass a national licensure exam, the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination, for Medical Doctors, or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination, for Doctors of Osteopathy.

Jamie Willis
Career Specialist at BecomeopediaHi, my name is Jamie Willis, and I have been helping students find their perfect internships and education paths for the last ten years. It is a passion of mine, and there really is nothing better than seeing students of mine succeed with further studies.

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