CRNA vs Anesthesiologist

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: November 15, 2022  •  5 min read  •  Health
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If you want to go into the healthcare field and help save lives, you can choose to become a CRNA or an anesthesiologist. Both of these career options offer great choices in the healthcare industry. These two options have similarities, but they are also rather different.

Before you try to make a career choice between CRNA and an anesthesiologist, make sure you understand what both of these careers are. Let’s look at each individually, and the differences between the two.

CRNA vs Anesthesiologist

What is a CRNA?

A CRNA is a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. This title is recognized as a specialty within the nursing profession. When you become a CRNA, you will administer anesthesia for many different surgical cases.

You will provide anesthesia before or after surgery. Along with anesthesia, you will also provide emergency services and pain management services.

What is an Anesthesiologist?

When you become an anesthesiologist, you will actually be a medical doctor that practices anesthesia. This type of physician practices perioperative care, puts together anesthetic plans, and administers anesthetics.

As an Anesthesiologist, you will help to ensure patients remain safe during surgery. You will provide the necessary care to help prevent pain and distress throughout the operation. This may include regional anesthesia, sedation, or general anesthesia.

Job Duties of a CRNA

When you decide to go into a career as a CRNA, you will have many different job duties. You may specialize in a subfield, such as cardiovascular, obstetrics, neurosurgery, or pediatrics. It’s also possible to be a CRNA that works on a broader scope.

Either way, as a CRNA, you will likely perform the following job duties:

These job duties, along with several others, will likely be a part of your job as a CRNA. Your role may vary, depending on where you work and if you specialize.

Job Duties of an Anesthesiologist

As an anesthesiologist, you will meet with patients before the surgery to check their health and help make the right decisions for anesthesia care. The goal of this type of physician is to ensure the safety of the patient and the effectiveness of anesthesia care.

An anesthesiologist will also perform the following job duties:

If you become an anesthesiologist, you will likely perform these job duties and many others.

Where Will I Work as a CRNA or Anesthesiologist?

Both of these careers will likely work in similar settings. The most common places you might work as a CRNA or anesthesiologist include:

You may end up working in any of these types of facilities.

CRNA vs Anesthesiologist: Job Outlook

Both of these careers are expected to grow over the next ten years. However, the career of CRNA is expected to grow by about 26%, while the career of an anesthesiologist is expected to grow by about 15%. Both are well above the average of all occupations.

CRNA vs Anesthesiologist: Salary

If you become a CRNA, you will be in one of the highest-paying nursing careers. According to, you can earn a median salary of $192K as a CRNA. The range goes from about $162K to $226K. Your location, experience level, and the actual employer will help to determine your actual salary.

As an anesthesiologist, you can earn a very high salary, too. Since you will be a medical doctor, the pay is quite high. According to, you can earn an average salary of $331K. The top of the range comes in at about $663K per year, while the bottom of the salary range is about $113K.

CRNA vs Anesthesiologist: Education Requirements

If you want to become a CRNA, you will need to start by getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing. It will also be necessary to become a registered nurse. After gaining one year of experience as a registered nurse, you can move on to gain the education you need to become a CRNA.

Your education will continue with a master’s degree or higher from a nurse anesthesia program. This is a two or three year program and you will need to pass the National Certification Exam from the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists. After you pass the exam, you will be a licensed CRNA.

Becoming an anesthesiologist means you will need to get a bachelor’s degree in a science field first. Then, you will need to attend medical school and become a Medical Doctor or a Doctor of Osteopathy. After medical school, you will need to complete a one-year internship to learn anesthesiology.

It’s also necessary to complete a three-year residency in anesthesiology. Once you have completed your residency program, you will likely spend another year or longer in a fellowship program for a subspeciality. This could be in cardiac, obstetric, pain management, pediatric, neurology, or critical care.

The final step of the process is to pass the American Board of Anesthesiology Exam. Once you pass the exam, you can practice as an anesthesiologist.

While a CRNA and an anesthesiologist both work in the same field, they are very different careers. From the demand to the salary to the education requirements, these are rather different options. Before you choose to become a CRNA or an anesthesiologist, make sure you understand the career options well.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.