How Much Can I Earn as a Nurse Anesthetist?

by Tanika Johnson

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Certified nurse anesthetists continue to transform the face of healthcare by delivering top-quality patient care and reshaping the healthcare system.

Certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) are advanced level practitioners who deliver general, regional, and local anesthesia and pain management services in operating rooms, obstetrical delivery rooms, ambulatory surgical centers, outpatient care centers, and healthcare facilities.

CRNA job duties include administering anesthesia while monitoring the patient, tracking vital signs, and supervising the safety of the patient's recovery process from anesthesia. A CRNA's salary is contingent upon geographical location and workplace setting.

Average Nurse Anesthetist Salary By State

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), CRNAs earned a median salary of $183,580 as of May 2020. In the same period, general nurse practitioners earned a median annual salary of $111,680 and certified nurse midwives earned a median annual income of $111,130.

Nurse salaries vary by state. While the CRNA salary of one state may be significantly higher than another, the cost of living can dramatically affect a CRNA's net earnings.

CRNA Mean Annual Wages Across the U.S.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

CRNAs in Oregon earn the highest mean annual CRNA wage at $236,540. Connecticut, the fifth-highest paying state, features a mean annual wage of $217,360.

Highest-Paying States for CRNAs
State Mean Annual Wage (2020)
1. Oregon $236,540
2. Wisconsin $231,520
3. Wyoming $231,250
4. Nevada $223,680
5. Connecticut $217,360
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Utah has the lowest mean annual wage for CRNAs, but still provides a mean annual wage of $127,130. New Mexico features a mean annual wage of $164,980.

Lowest-Paying States for CRNAs
State Mean Annual Wage (2020)
1. Utah $127,130
2. Idaho $156,250
3. Louisiana $161,310
4. Kentucky $163,700
5. New Mexico $164,980
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Do CRNA Salaries Compare to Education Costs?

Before enrolling in master's-level nursing programs, nurses earn bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degrees. Tuition and fees may range from $40,000 to over $100,000 per academic year. Textbooks and materials expand the costs of fees and may vary from $1,000-$3,000.

Required medical devices and attire such as uniforms, stethoscopes, blood pressure apparatuses, watches, goggles, and thermometers can cost $300-$500. Nursing candidates must also register for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and pay a $200 fee.

After achieving a passing score, nurses can enroll in a master's in nurse anesthesia program. Upon completion, CRNA candidates can register for the National Certification Examination, which includes a $725 exam fee.

While the average tuition of CRNA programs are estimated to cost up to $182,000 per year, individuals can anticipate earning comparable nurse anesthetist salaries, delivering a strong return on investment.

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing offers a comprehensive list of scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students. CareerOneStop, Nurse' Educational Funds, Incorporated, College Board, and FastWeb also provide searchable scholarship databases and tools for reducing the costs of bachelor's andmaster's nursing programs.

Three Ways to Boost Your CRNA Salary

As the demand for CRNAs grows, salaries should also increase. Professionals can advance their careers by pursuing doctoral programs, subspecialties, clinical ladder programs, and administration and leadership roles to boost their CRNA salaries.

1. Workplace

Salaries vary among different workplaces. In outpatient care centers, CRNAs earn a mean annual salary of $224,810. CRNAs in medical and surgical hospitals earn a mean annual wage of $196,530.

Nurse Anesthetist Salaries, by Workplace
Workplace Mean Annual Wage (2020)
1. Outpatient care centers $224,810
2. Home health care services $210,670
3. Specialty hospitals (except psychiatric and substance abuse) $201,220
4. Colleges, universities, and professional schools $197,700
5. General medical and surgical hospitals $196,530
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

2. Years of Experience

CRNAs specializing in anesthesia subspecialties — such as cardiothoracic anesthesia, critical care anesthesia, neurosurgical anesthesia, and obstetric anesthesia — often earn higher salaries than general practitioners.

Clinical ladder advancement programs can also contribute to professional development and salary increases. Doctoral-level CRNAs commonly earn more than their master's-level colleagues.

3. Becoming a Chief Nurse Anesthetist

A chief nurse anesthetist's responsibilities include scheduling and overseeing teams of CRNAs, along with collecting data and compiling reports relating to anesthesia, medication and administration, and patient outcomes. Chief nurse anesthetists assist anesthesiologists with developing courses and delivering instruction to students.

Chief nurse anesthetists earn an annual average salary of $184,960 as of July 2021, according to PayScale.

Common Questions About CRNA Salaries

How Long Does It Take to Become a Nurse Anesthetist?

An aspiring CRNA must complete a four-year BSN program and acquire approximately three years of experience in intensive or critical care. It then takes an additional 2-4 years to complete an MSN CRNA program.

Do CRNAs Make More Than Doctors?

In some cases, yes. It depends on the specific positions and variances in individual pay. For example, the BLS reported median annual salaries of $183,580 for CRNAs and $184,570 for pediatricians as of May 2020. Comparatively, anesthesiologists earn a median annual salary of $271,440.

Can CRNAs Make $300K?

While CRNAs can earn six-figure salaries, median figures indicate that CRNA salaries are closer to $200,000.

Can You Go From RN to CRNA?

After earning a BSN and acquiring one year of experience in critical care, RNs can complete master's degrees in nurse anesthesia to become CRNAs.

Portrait of Tanika Johnson

Tanika Johnson

Tanika Johnson is an Education Consultant, Continuing Education Contributing Faculty Member, Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health Service Provider, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor, Board-Certified Telemental Health Provider, and Certified Clinical Trauma Professional. She holds professional teaching licenses in both psychology and special education. Additionally, she earned her Ed.D. and Ed.S. from Carson-Newman University, MA from Argosy University, BS from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and completed her teacher education program at Freed-Hardeman University. She has a wealth of experience with early childhood education, social and emotional development, education advocacy, and serving the special education community and exceptional needs of children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities.

Portrait of Reviewed by: Brandy Gleason, MSN, MHA, BC-NC

Reviewed by: Brandy Gleason, MSN, MHA, BC-NC

As an assistant professor of nursing and entrepreneur with nearly twenty years of varied nursing experience, Brandy Gleason offers a unique perspective. She currently teaches within a prelicensure nursing program and coaches masters students through their culminating projects. Brandy brings additional expertise as a bedside nurse and a nurse leader, having held past roles at the supervisory, managerial, and senior leadership levels. Her passion and area of research centers around coaching nurses and nursing students to build resilience and avoid burnout. Brandy is also an avid change agent when it comes to creating environments and systems that contribute to the wellbeing of students and healthcare professionals.

Header Image Credit: The Good Brigade | Getty Images

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