How to Become an Anesthesiologist? Schools and Salary

Okoma V.
18 Min Read

How to Become an Anesthesiologist? Becoming an Anesthesiologist is a long road but it can be rewarding both financially and professionally.

Many anesthesiologists say they’d choose this career path again. When anesthesiologists are done with their training, many end up working for a hospital but they also can choose to go into private practice.


Who is an Anesthesiologist?

An anesthesiologist is a physician who is trained to administer the drugs to control pain and other medical procedures to a patient during surgery. Hence, they are responsible for the safety and welfare of the patient before, during, and after surgery.

In simpler terms, it is the anesthesiologist that provides you with the pain relief that puts you in slumber before the doctor operates on you. They also monitor your vital signs during surgery.

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To perform their job well, anesthesiologists must have adept knowledge of physiology and pharmacology. They must also be knowledgeable about the techniques employed to support vital organ functions during an anaesthetic procedure


The Anesthesiologists’ work environment is anywhere surgical procedures will take place and hence require the administration of pain relief to the patients.

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What are the Subspecialties in Anesthesiology?

Based on their training and skills, anesthesiologists can choose to become specialists in certain areas of anesthesiology.

These areas where anesthesiologists can specialize in include:

  • Cardiothoracic anesthesia
  • Critical care anesthesia
  • Neurosurgical anesthesia
  • Obstetric anesthesia
  • Orthopedic anesthesia
  • Pediatric anesthesia
  • Hospice and palliative anesthesia

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What is the Anesthesiologist Salary?

Anesthesiologists make good money for the great service they render. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Anesthesiologists earn $267,020 yearly. As of 2018, there were 31,060 anesthesiologists in the USA, and employment for this position will rise by 5.6% from 2018 to 2028.

Based on the industry they work in, Anesthesiologists also earn the following:


Offices of Physicians – $276,990

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General Medical and Surgical Hospitals – $209,260

Outpatient Care Centers – $273,080

Offices of Other Health Practitioners – $195,350

Specialty Hospitals – $280,400


Meanwhile, Anesthesiologists’ salaries will vary by location. Anesthesiologists in some states earn better than their counterparts in other states. Also, some states employ more Anesthesiologists than others.

The top five (5) states in the world for Anesthesiologists based on earnings and employment are:

Texas – $260,690; employing 3,860

California – $288,420; employing 3,500

New York – $255,500; employing 1,500


Florida – $280,390; employing 1,470

Ohio – $285,000;employing 1,330

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What is the Educational Requirement for Anesthesiologists?

Just like physicians, the entry-level job requirement for an Anesthesiologist is a doctorate degree. However, to acquire a doctorate degree in anesthesiology and practice your profession, here is what you should do:

1. Complete a Bachelor’s Degree Program

The education process for Anesthesiologists is similar to that of other Physicians. A medical school is critical to your becoming an anesthesiologist but you will need a Bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite to enrolling in a medical school.

While you are free to apply for medical school with any kind of undergraduate degree, your degree should cover courses in biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics.

These courses are also prerequisites to medical school. Because your undergraduate degree should contain these courses, we strongly advise that you get a pre-med degree.

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2. Get into Medical School

After your four-year undergraduate degree, you will have to apply to a medical school. The medical school also takes four years to complete.


On completion of medical school, you will get a Doctor of Medicine (M.D) or a Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O) degree. You should know, however, that gaining admission into medical school is not easy.

Medical schools in the USA take a few numbers of prospective medical students out of the pool of applicants they receive yearly. Medical schools will consider your GPA, letters of recommendation, and Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) scores.

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3. Complete Medical School

The race does not end on gaining acceptance into a medical school. You will have to complete your four years of medical school education as an anesthesiologist to proceed to the next stage of your career.

You will spend the first two years of medical school in the classroom receiving instruction in core medicine subjects. These subjects include microbiology, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, medical ethics, and anatomy.

For the remaining two years, however, your education will be more practical. You will gain hands-on experience in treating patients at medical facilities through clinical rotations.

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A veteran Physician will supervise you during your clinical rotations and through their assistance, you’ll explore several specialties in the field. Some of these specialties include pediatrics, gynecology, cardiology, and geriatrics.

4. Complete a Residency Program in Anesthesiology

The residency program takes place after graduating from medical school. It is another four years of intense learning for you, only this one is more specialized than the previous set of four years. Your residency must be in anesthesiology.


Hence, one year of the program will still be clinical rotations and/or internships in general medicine areas such as internal medicine, pediatrics, and emergency medicine. The remaining three years, however, will be pure anesthesiologist education.

5. Consider a Sub-Specialty Fellowship

A fellowship program in a subspecialty in anesthesiology lasts for a year or two and allows for specialization in the field. You can pursue this fellowship option only after residency but it is not a compulsory education you must get to become an anesthesiologist.

The anesthesiology sub-specialty fellowship is simply a thing of choice. If you’ll be choosing to take part in one, however, the sub-specialties in anesthesiology you can choose include neurosurgery, pediatric, transplant, or dental anesthesiology.

6. Gain Licensure

Licensure is an important educational requirement for most medical-related disciplines. It is the same too for Anesthesiologists. You will need a license to be able to practice the Anesthesiology profession in the United States.

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This licensure is state-dependent, which means that you must gain it in the state you wish to practice. Meanwhile, gaining an Anesthesiologist license requires you to pass a two-part examination as well as fulfil additional state requirements.


7. Get Board-Certified

You can get board certified after gaining your license by either The American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) and the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS). To become board certified by any of these boards, all you need to do is pass their certification exam.

Meanwhile, becoming board certified is not a compulsory educational path to an anesthesiologist career.

It gives professionals in the field some sense of accomplishment when they use the title, “Board Certified Anesthesiologist,” and employers prefer Anesthesiologists who are board-certified.

Also, it is the norm. Close to 90 per cent of anesthesiologists are board-certified.


What Schools Can I Attend to Become an Anesthesiologist?

You can get an anesthesiologist education from any of the accredited universities in the United States but that will depend on the level of education you’re going for.

You will gain an undergraduate degree for your anesthesiology degree from accredited universities in the United States. However, you can only attend medical schools to get a medical education and a residency program in Anesthesiology.

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So, we will discuss here the best medical schools you can attend in the United States for a residency program in Anesthesiology.

Here are the best 10 Anesthesiology Program:

1. Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care

The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) has one of the best medical schools in the USA. US News and World Report rank its Anesthesiology program as number three in the USA. The UCFS School of Medicine began in 1864 and has over 1,428 medical students while housing the UCSF Medical Center.


Through its Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Care, UCSF offers one of the finest Anesthesiology Residency Programs in the USA.

You will learn and provide patient care in six different medical centers, including the UCSF Helen Diller Medical Center as a resident at UCSF. Meanwhile, UCSF’s program distinguishes itself through the diversity and challenge of its clinical experiences. Hence, you will graduate to be outstanding in your clinical abilities.

2. Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care

Penn Medicine is another of the best medical schools in the USA. Older than the other schools we’ve listed, the Perelman School of Medicine began in 1765 and has over 1,200 Residents. It is also one of the medical schools where you can get an Anesthesiologist schooling for your Residency program.

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The Anesthesiology program at Perelam is notable for its long tradition of patient care, education, and research. The Pennsylvania medical school has been producing leaders in the field of Anesthesiology, with its focus on leadership through clinical training and mentorship.

Also, through the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and two other dedicated hospitals in Penn State, Penn Medicine promises world-class anesthesiology training. You’ll grow to become a leader in aspects of anesthesiology including the operating room, intensive care unit, labor and delivery floor, and pain clinic.


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3. Duke Anesthesiology- Duke University School of Medicine

Coming 5th in the US News and World Report’s ranking for best Anesthesiologist Program in the USA, Duke Anesthesiology offers one of the best Anesthesiologist education towards a fulfilling career in the field. Duke University School of Medicine, which offers its Anesthesiology program, began in 1930 and has over 400 students learning from a world-class faculty of over 2,000 staff.

Hence, you don’t expect less from Duke’s Anesthesiology program. Its residency program in anesthesiology program equips you with the skills with which you will work with a variety of patient cases and change the world around you.


4. Columbia University Department of Anesthesiology

Columbia University, through its Irving Medical Center, offers one of the best schoolings for anesthesiologists in the USA. Its anesthesiology program ranks 6th in US News & World Report, with its medical school consisting of over 1500 students and 4,300 faculty members. Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, located at the University’s Irving Medical Center, is an old medical school, founded in 1767.

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With its age comes consistency in delivering excellence. So, Columbia University claims to be the home of a legacy of leaders in Anesthesiology. If you choose to take your residency program at Columbia University, the school assures you of cultivating your talents to help you become a compassionate physician, skilled clinician, and creative leader in the field of Anesthesiology.

5. Michigan Medicine- Anesthesiology

Michigan Medicine, which began operating in 1850 as U-M Medical School is another medical school in the USA to get the best anesthesiologist schooling. This medical school in Michigan, comprising of over 2,000 students and over 3,700 academic staff has been consistent in delivering quality medical education to physicians and anesthesiologists.

In fact, Michigan Medicine is one of the most dedicated medical schools in the USA for an anesthesiologist career. Right from medical school, this medical school provides a comprehensive clinical experience within the field of anesthesiology. It also encourages frequent tutorials and small group discussions and houses an Anesthesiology Student Interest Group (ASIG).


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How Much Does it Cost to Get an Anesthesiologist Degree?

Education for anesthesiologists is quite long and as expensive as it is long. You will spend four years getting an undergraduate degree, four years for medical school, and three to four years for the anesthesiology residency program. At every stage of education, you’ll incur costs in tuition, student insurance, and living costs.

Hence, you’ll have the following breakdown:

Undergraduate Tuition – between $8,000 to $40,000, although some private schools will charge higher than this range.


Undergraduate Living Cost and Insurance – $8,000 to $12,000. Although, this will depend on your location.

Medical School tuition, fees, and health insurance – $12,000 to $85,000

Taking the average of these prices, we’ll have $24,000 for a four-year undergraduate education, $10,000 for undergraduate living cost and health insurance, and $48,500 for medical school. This gives a total cost of $82,500.

However, this is a yearly estimate. So, multiplying this by four years, you’ll get $330,000 for the duration of your degree.

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Also, being an average cost figure, this should serve as the least amount you’ll pay to acquire an anesthesiologist degree.


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How Can I Become an Anesthesiologist?

We have explained the educational requirements to get a degree and become an anesthesiologist earlier. But more than that here is a comprehensive summary of how to become an anesthesiologist and grow in the career.

  • Get your high school diploma or equivalent
  • Attend a high school summer medical program if possible
  • Volunteer at a hospital before college – You’ll need the experience
  • Take and pass college entrance exams
  • Complete a bachelor’s degree in pre-med or a related field
  • Prepare for medical school entrance exams
  • Apply for medical school
  • Consider enrolling in a BA/BS and MD program
  • Learn the fundamentals of medicine in your first two years
  • Complete a four-year anesthesiology residency program
  • Find out the requirements for anesthesiologist licensing or certification in your state
  • Get in touch with the licensing board in the US
  • Become board certified
  • Find work as an anesthesiologist


If you do all these things, as instructed in the article above you are sure to lead a rewarding anesthesiologist career anywhere in the world.


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