The medical field offers a lot of very high paying opportunities, especially for those who know where to look and how to direct their studies. While even lower tier medical careers still pay fairly well, if you do a bit of planning ahead, you can find careers that pay even better and are off the beaten path.
While most people have heard of nurses, certified registered nurse anesthetists are a much less commonly known career. As a certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) though, you can make a decent salary and enjoy doing something more targeted than regular registered nurses.
There are, of course, a lot of influencing factors that determine how much you will end up making, but here is a general idea of the salary you can expect as a CRNA.
Factors that Influence Pay
Just like with any career, there are numerous factors that will come into play. Some of these factors are typical to every career type such as location and credentials whereas other factors are more unique to the location where you choose to work. Certain hospitals or companies will have different standards and salaries for certified registered nurse anesthetists already in place.
It should come at no surprise that areas with a higher need for CRNAs will offer higher salaries and better benefits. Jobs in big cities often pay higher as well. That being said, if the need for a CRNA is high in a more rural area than your nearest city, you may have a better job offer there.
Currently, Oregon and Wisconsin are the two highest paying states for CRNAs despite being more rural than states like California and lacking larger cities like New York or Chicago. The average salary in Wisconsin is over $230,000 while salaries in New Jersey tend to hover closer to $200,000. This changes over time, however, so don’t be dismayed if your state doesn’t offer the top salaries.
Type of Employer
As a CRNA, you can find work in multiple employment settings. From hospitals to surgery centers to travel nursing companies, you can go anywhere you want for your career. The salary will vary from employer to employer, though, so don’t expect the same pay rate wherever you go.
Education and Experience
Education and experience are two things that will influence how much you make no matter what career field you go into. Nursing is no exception. To become a nurse anesthetist, you’ll need to hold at least a master’s degree, though the highest paid nurse anesthetists have a doctorate.
As nursing specialties are in high demand everywhere, it’s normally pretty easy to find RN to MSN programs no matter which state you live in. If you’ve already completed a master’s in nursing and want to increase your chances of earning an even higher salary, online doctorate’s programs can be found all across the country as well.
As you gain experience as a nurse anesthetist, you’ll have more opportunities for a pay increase. Holding additional certificates and other types of credentials can also qualify you for a higher salary and are often less time consuming than a doctorate degree.
How Much Does a CRNA Make?
All this said, how much does a CRNA usually make? While it will vary drastically depending on the factors listed above, a certified registered nurse anesthetist salary is typically around $180,000 annually. While there are certainly areas that pay higher than that, it’s safe to say that a career as a CRNA is lucrative.
Where Can Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists Work?
Medical careers often have many opportunities and different workplaces to choose from. Even with such a specific specialty, CRNAs still have a wide scope of potential employers to choose from.
There is no precise list of where CRNAs can find work, but rest assured that if you’re interested in working in a specific field, the option likely exists. From the incomplete lists that have been made, there are well over 100 employment types and locations to choose from. While you won’t find all of these listed below, here are just a few of your choices:
Perhaps the most obvious job location is within a hospital. CRNAs can find work in local hospitals, whether they’re in rural states or big cities. As a hospital CRNA, you’ll help mainly in operating rooms to administer anesthesia to patients undergoing a procedure.
Outpatient centers are another major hub for CRNAs. If you like the idea of being in a major medical center, but don’t want to work in a hospital, an outpatient center is a great choice.
Travel nursing is a large industry and often one that is forgotten when you think of potential employers. As a CRNA, you could bring a lot of expertise and field specific knowledge to medical centers abroad that need it. If you love traveling and don’t want to stay in the same location as you’ve always been, working for a travel nursing company or abroad could be right up your alley.
Government or Military Facilities
Whether your spouse is in the military or you signed up to pay for your studies, working in a government or military medical facility is a stable choice. For those who aren’t sure how to pay for the CRNA studies, registering to serve in the military in exchange for free education can be a good opportunity as you’ll also earn experience.
Take your skills to a private practice by working in the office of dentists, ophthalmologists, podiatrists, or even plastic surgeons.
CRNAs work hard, but they get paid well for it. You’ll need to put time and effort into your studies and it won’t be the easiest path, but if you’re looking for a career that pays well and offers a variety of workplaces, becoming a CRNA is a very possible option.
It’s very rewarding to work in the medical field no matter where your job is stationed or how much you work, but a higher paycheck certainly helps to make the cost of becoming a CRNA worthwhile.