Why Do Anesthesiologists Make So Much?

It’s not uncommon for college-bound kids to choose a degree program according to the profitability of the resulting career. In the medical field, anesthesiologists are some of those that get exceptionally compensated.

In general, anesthesiologists make so much as they are integral medical professionals before, during and after surgical procedures. Another reason why they earn a lot (in some cases, even more than surgeons) is that anesthesiologists went through years of costly college, training, residency and fellowship.

Don’t stop reading now if you plan to become an anesthesiologist yourself and make so much money.

Below, you will come across just about everything you need to work as a licensed and certified anesthesia practitioner one day. Prior to enjoying lots and lots of cash, you will realize that you will have to invest a lot of your time and, more importantly, money beforehand.

How Much Money Do Anesthesiologists Make?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average yearly salary of anesthesiologists is $261,730. That’s almost five times the average yearly salary for all occupations: $53,490. Anesthesiologists are paid a lot due to the cost of education and the significance and demands of their jobs.

BLS says that the average yearly salary of surgeons amounts to $255,110.

So, based on the reports of BLS, it’s apparent that some anesthesiologists make more than some surgeons. It’s not unlikely for a lot of people to find this surprising.


This is especially true because everyone knows that the star in any operating room or theater is the one that wields a scalpel — the surgeon.

While it’s true that a surgeon is right in the center of any surgical procedure, the anesthesiologist is tasked with a lot of important and challenging undertakings, too, when someone is lying on an operating table.

Refrain from assuming that all an anesthesiologist does is put someone to sleep. The following are some of the duties and responsibilities of an anesthesiologist:

  • Administer pain relief before, during and after medical procedures.
  • Monitor the vital signs of patients during surgical procedures.
  • Supervise anesthesia assistants and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs).
  • Approve general, sedative, regional or local anesthetics.
  • Review medical files and lab results of patients.
  • Inform patients of the risks associated with anesthesia administration.
  • Comply with medical and hospital procedure policy.

Salary-wise, it’s not just the fact that some anesthesiologists earn more than some surgeons you should know.

Especially if you are determined to complete an anesthesiology program, it’s also a must for you to know that some anesthesiologists practicing in certain US states make more money than the rest.

Here are the top 10 states where anesthesiologists have higher yearly salaries:

New Mexico$277,140
North Carolina$274,610
Top Anesthesiologist Salaries

While there are states where anesthesiologists tend to receive hefty paychecks, there are also states where these medical professionals fail to make as much money like the rest. Still, their average salaries per year are generally higher than the average yearly salaries for other occupations.

The following are the states where anesthesiologists have lower yearly salaries:

New York$212,730
Lowest Anesthesiologist Salaries

Are Anesthesiologists in High Demand?

There are 33,000 jobs available for anesthesiologists. Especially if anesthesiologists are willing to relocate to states where anesthesiologist demands are high, being unemployed should be the least of their worries. The anesthesiologist job market is expected to grow by 15.5% from 2016 to 2026.

Becoming a licensed and certified anesthesiologist takes a lot of not only money but also time.

It’s because of this why some students may hesitate to invest their resources for the sake of being able to competently and legally administer anesthesia and perform the many tasks of an anesthesiologist. Becoming unemployed and failing to recoup everything they invested are some of the fears they have.

Fortunately, anesthesiologists are some of the most in-demand medical professionals in the US.

As mentioned earlier, tens of thousands of jobs are waiting for newly licensed and certified anesthesiologists to grab. What’s more, the demand for them is expected to grow significantly in a span of 10 years.

Besides, for as long as there are people who have to undergo the knife in order to become healthier or look better, it’s not unlikely for anesthesiologists to run out of jobs.

The employment rate of anesthesiologists tends to vary from one industry to the other. Some industries employ more anesthesia practitioners, while other industries seem to not need as many anesthesiologists.

Most anesthesiologists in the US are employed at the offices of physicians.

Hospitals, on the other hand, are where the second-highest employment rate for anesthesiologists is. Specialty hospitals such as psychiatric wards and substance abuse facilities tend to pay anesthesiologists more than other hospitals.

Outpatient care centers have the third-highest anesthesiologist employment figures in the nation.

It’s not just the industry that has an impact on your chances of getting employed as an anesthesiologist. The location is also a factor that can determine how prolific a future anesthesiologist like you can be.

For instance, according to data from Kaiser State Health, the following states have the most number of anesthesiologists employed:

New York3,874
New Jersey1,578

Which Schools Have the Best Anesthesiology Programs?

Various colleges and universities have excellent anesthesiology programs. Most of them are Ivy League and other prestigious schools in the US. Some of those with high-ranking anesthesiology programs are John Hopkins University, Harvard University and the University of California – San Francisco.

Because being an anesthesia practitioner requires rigorous training beforehand and anesthesiology is one of the most challenging medical disciplines, it’s a good idea to earn an anesthesiology program from the right school.

In the US, students who wish to become anesthesiologists one day can choose from a number of colleges and universities that offer excellent anesthesiology programs.

The majority of these institutions, as one would expect, are also regarded as some of the best medical schools in the nation.

According to US News, when it comes to anesthesiology programs, here are the best schools:

Johns Hopkins University1
Harvard University2
University of California – San Francisco3
Duke University4
University of Pennsylvania5
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor6
Columbia University7
Stanford University8
New York University9
University of California – Los Angeles10
Vanderbilt University10
Washington University in St. Louis10

It’s important to note that college rankings can be subjective.

It’s for the fact that, although college ranking sites usually rely on publicly available data and information provided by the schools themselves, which criteria are used and how much weight each one of them has are decided upon by the ranking body.

Because of this, it doesn’t come as a surprise why the positions of the best anesthesiology programs tend to change from one ranking site to another. Sometimes the differences are minor, while other times the differences are substantial.

For instance, this is how Anesthesiology Schools rank anesthesiology programs by colleges:

University of California – San Francisco1
University of Washington2
University of Pittsburgh3
Johns Hopkins University4
Medical College of Wisconsin5
University of Texas6
Vanderbilt University7
University of California – Los Angeles8
Oregon Health & Science University9
Columbia University10
Top Anesthesiology Schools

How Long Does It Take to Become an Anesthesiologist?

On average, it takes 12 years to become an anesthesiologist. It all starts with earning a bachelor’s degree for four years, followed by four years in medical school. Another four years are spent on a residency program. Sometimes, a couple of years in a fellowship program or private practice is necessary.

Since an anesthesiologist is a type of physician, it doesn’t come as a surprise why someone who wants to become one has to be in college for a long time as someone who wants to become a surgeon.

The journey to becoming an anesthesiologist begins with completing an undergraduate study from an accredited college or university. If you think that majoring in a medical-related field is a must, think again — most of the time, there are no specific major requirements for becoming an anesthesiologist.

However, it’s recommended to take a pre-med program at your chosen school.

Some majors you may go for include health science, physical science, biology and chemistry — the kinds that can prepare you for medical school.

Still, many medical schools do not require applicants to major in these disciplines. As a matter of fact, some anesthesiologists out there majored in English and pre-law.

After getting your hands on a bachelor’s degree, it’s time to enter medical school. However, you need to pass the Medical College Admission Test before you can apply to the medical school of your choice to complete a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (OD) program.

During your first year in medical school, you will take traditional courses like anatomy, biochemistry, and pharmacology. Afterward, you will proceed with taking anesthesiology electives and rotations during your clinical curriculum.

To gain hands-on experience and meet training requirements to become a licensed and certified anesthesiologist, you will have to complete an anesthesiology residency program.

More often than not, this program takes four years to complete. It will allow you to explore your interests and decide on your specialization.

Some rotation areas include:

  • Emergency medicine
  • General medicine
  • Cardiology
  • Neurology
  • Pathology
  • Obstetrics
  • Pediatrics
  • Hospice and palliative care

To become a licensed anesthesiologist after earning your medical degree and completing your residency program, you must pass the US Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE). It’s also a must for you to receive a board certification through the American Board of Anesthesiologists (ABA).

With so many years (and money, too) spent in college and challenging exams to pass, it’s no wonder why anesthesiologists make so much money!

How Much Does It Cost to Become an Anesthesiologist?

The cost of becoming a licensed and certified anesthesiologist ranges from over $300,000 to almost $500,000. How much students aspiring to become anesthesiologists need to spend will depend on which schools they will earn their bachelor’s degree from and which medical schools they will attend.

Some college degrees are simply more expensive than the rest, and one of them is a medical degree.

Annually, the world spends $100 billion on medical education. It’s due to this why attending a medical school doesn’t come with a cheap price tag.

Since you will have to spend four years in medical school (plus for years earning a bachelor’s degree before that) in order to become an anesthesiologist, you can expect the journey to be exorbitant.

The average cost of earning a bachelor’s degree at a public institution equals $103,560 (for in-state students) and $167,800 (for out-of-state students).

On the other hand, the average cost of attending a medical school for four years amounts to $250,222 at public institutions and $330,180 at private institutions.

So, this means that you will have to spend anywhere from $353,782 to $497,980. This amount does not include textbooks, housing, clothes, food, transportation and other essentials.

The average cost of living per year for college students amounts to $14,435.

Multiplying that amount by 12 (four years in undergraduate studies, four years in medical school, and another four years completing anesthesiology residency program), you will have to spend an additional $173,220 in your quest to become an anesthesiologist.

Doing the math, it’s plain to see that working as an anesthesia practitioner doesn’t come cheap!

With the need to spend a lot of money just to get where they are right now, it’s no wonder why anesthesiologists are some of the highest-paid professionals on the face of the planet.

Needless to say, if you want to have a high-paying job in the future, you should be willing or able to spend a huge sum of money today.

The good news is that completing your anesthesiology residency program usually comes free of charge. As a matter of fact, you will make money from it.

However, you will generate a lot less money as an anesthesiology resident than a licensed and certified anesthesiologist at a physician’s office, hospital, outpatient care centers or elsewhere.

In the US, anesthesiology residents earn an average of $172,122 a year.

Are There Online Anesthesiology Degree Programs?

Anesthesiology degree programs that can be completed online do not exist. With all the training and anesthesiology residencies required for students to become licensed and certified anesthesiologists, distance education is impossible. However, there are online nurse anesthesia programs available.

In 2018, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), almost 3.3 million college students enrolled exclusively in online degree programs.

Nearly 3.7 million college students, on the other hand, had at least one online course.

Available online degrees come in more than 100 popular subjects. As a matter of fact, online colleges and universities offer more than 37,000 unique degree programs.

Unfortunately, anesthesiology degree programs are not included. So, in other words, students who plan to become anesthesiologists have no choice but to attend traditional schools.

As mentioned earlier, anesthesiology students have to undergo rigorous training and residencies before they can competently and legally administer anesthesia and carry out the many other tasks of anesthesiologists in various medical settings. Training to become anesthesiologists and being anesthesiology residents cannot be conducted online.

Prior to attending medical school, you need to get your hands on a bachelor’s degree.

Sometimes it’s pre-med or any related major that you should have, while other times, it’s any major you like — it depends on which medical school you plan to apply to after completing the required undergraduate studies beforehand.

This is when you can opt for an online program to enjoy the many perks that come with earning a degree in the comfort of your home or from the school of your liking that’s several miles away from where you are.

However, it’s a must that you earn your bachelor’s degree from an accredited school offering legit online programs.

While there are no online anesthesiology programs (if you encounter one online, it’s fake and the degree you will earn has no value or meaning), there are online nurse anesthesia programs around, such as the Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia program, which enables you to become a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA).

But there are a couple of very important matters you need to know about the said program:

  • It’s only available for nurses who hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and are registered. If you are not a registered nurse and have no bachelor’s degree, then you do not qualify for the Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia program and you cannot become a CRNA.
  • It’s a hybrid program, which means that you will have to attend online and physical classes. The coursework during the first year, for instance, can be completed via the internet. On the other hand, clinical internships can only be done at hospitals and/or other medical facilities.

Just Before You Get Paid as an Anesthesiologist

Anesthesiologists get no ordinary paychecks. However, it’s only because they spent no ordinary amount of time and money in college before becoming the medical professionals that they are.

If you like to enjoy the exorbitant salary of an anesthesiologist, make sure that you are willing to spend four years of your life earning a bachelor’s degree, another four years of your life going to medical school, and four more years of your life completing an anesthesiology residency program — and also spend over $300,000 to almost $500,000.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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