How to become an Anesthesiologist

This article provides in-depth information on who is an anesthesiologist, what anesthesiologists do, degrees programs, steps to becoming an anesthesiologist, and more

An Anesthesiologist is a skilled medical professional who is specialized in the field of anesthesiology. Anesthesiologists are doctors specialized in perioperative care, developing anesthetic plans, and the administration of anesthetics. They handle the responsibility of designing and implementing plans to usher patients safely through surgery. 

Detailed steps to become an anesthesiologist,

  • Earn a bachelor’s degree
  • Clear the MCAT
  • Complete a medical school program
  • Specialize through a residency program
  • Pursue a Fellowship in a sub-specialty
  • Obtain a license and be board-certified

The below table is designed to provide detailed information on the degree, careers, skills, and requirements for an anesthesiologist. 

Career Title


Degree Requirements

Degree of Medicine Degree

Experience required

Minimum of 4 years

Salary (2020)


How long to become an anesthesiologist

8 years

Required Skills

Communication, Active listening, problem-solving, good decision making, Leadership.

Everything you need to know about becoming an anesthesiologist is further elaborated in the guide below. 

What does an Anesthesiologist do ?

Prior to surgery, an anesthesiologist keeps track of a patient's health condition and variations. An anesthesiologist will be by the patient's side throughout the surgery and ensure that the patient’s health is stable right through until the post-anesthesia care unit. The role of an anesthesiologist is listed below,

  • Keep a continuous track of monitoring vital signs

  • Monitoring of the level and depth of anesthesia

  • Making modifications if essential

  • Recognition of any possible life-threatening crises and timely intervention

  • Ensuring the safety of the patient and taking appropriate steps to avoid any injuries to the patient’s body during the anesthetic period

Steps for becoming an Anesthesiologist


Earn A Bachelor's Degree

A student needs to understand the qualification required for an anesthesiologist and then pursue your career towards completing the listed steps. First, you must earn an undergraduate degree in any field as an anesthesiologist schooling does not require a designated pre-medical degree program. Students can also choose undergraduate courses that help to become and fulfill prerequisites associated with a medical school. Anesthesiologist majors include biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics, health science, physical science.

Step 1 Earn a Bachelor's degree


Apply To Medical School

Earning a four-year medical school is the basic criteria to become an anesthesiologist. It also acts as the eligibility for pursuing a doctor of medicine (M.D) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O) degree as they are primary anesthesiologist degrees. This is one of the most competitive application processes. The Medical College Admissions Test is a standardized, multiple-choice exam used to determine a candidate's knowledge of science concepts, as well as their problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Step 2 Apply for a Medical School


Complete A Medical School Program

During the initial two years, of course, students study subjects like microbiology, biochemistry, physiology, pharmacology, pathology, medical ethics, and anatomy. During the remaining two years of medical school, students start to gain practical experience caring for patients in medical facilities, such as hospitals and clinics. The clinical rotations are administered by experienced physicians and permit students to explore a variety of specialties that include pediatrics, gynecology, cardiology, and geriatrics. Meeting these anesthesiologist requirements will allow you to gain firm core knowledge to treat patients. 

Step 3 Complete a Medical school program


Complete A Residency In Anesthesiology

At the end of medical school, surgeons undertake four years of expert training that contain one year of rotations as well as internship associated to general medicine followed by three years of a rigorous anesthesiologist education.

Step 4 Complete a Residency in Anesthesiology


Pursue A Fellowship In A Sub-specialty

After students are done with their residency year, fellowship programs are not mandatory. These programs are of one to two years and concentrate on a specific area of anesthesiology such as neurosurgery, pediatric, transplant, or dental anesthesiology.

Step 5 Pursue a Fellowship in a subspeciality


Obtain A License

A doctor must have a license in order to work in the United States as an anesthesiologist. In addition to passing a two-part examination, physicians must also fulfill additional requirements set by the state. Meeting the anesthesiologist education requirements will give you the potentials to work in public sectors and settle at high-paying jobs. To reach this step, you may take several years and the time taken to become an anesthesiologist will pay off as you start working. 

step 6 Obtain a License

Anesthesiologist Degree Levels


Earning an associate in this area will help students to work under the supervision of an anesthesiologist in a number of different circumstances including standard operations and emergencies. Students tend to become skilled at assessing the physical condition of patients, helping prepare patients for surgery, transporting patients, and maintaining and monitoring equipment.

EKG analysis
  • Recording the electrical activity of the heart

  • Cardiology test

  • Non-invasive procedure

  • Reflect underlying heart conditions

  • A detailed study of the systematic method to interpret the ECG and able to identify common ECG abnormalities

Anatomy and physiology
  • Structure and relationship between body parts.

  • The function of body parts

  • Introduction to cytology

  • Introduction to neurology

  • Study and understand the fundamental scientific concepts related to physiology.

  • Study of micro-organisms
  • Structure, function, use of organisms.

  • Effects of micro-organisms

  • Introduction to Virology

  • The study of microbiology helps to treat and prevent diseases that are caused by micro-organisms.


Bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement that a student needs to enter a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathy. The first two years of medical school focus on anatomy and physiology along with common diseases and medical disorders. Third- and fourth-year medical students complete rotations and clerkships to acquire hands-on experience in the full range of medical practice specialties.

  • Study of drug action

  • Personalized medicine

  • Clinical pharmacology

  • Study of molecular biology

  • A detailed study of biology and its techniques to be implemented in medicine.

  • Study of disorder of nerves
  • Deals with the peripheral nervous system

  • Working of cranial nerves

  • Computed axial tomography

  • Study and diagnose neurological emergencies to initiate treatment for patients.

Pain management
  • Dealing with improving quality of life

  • Medical practitioners

  • Pharmacists

  • Clinical psychologists

  • A study introduced to deal with understand the fundamentals of caring for patients with acute, chronic, and cancer pain


Students interested to pursue a career as nurse anesthetist need to earn a master's degree. This program trains students to work with patients and support anesthesiologists. A detailed study of vital signs and administer numerous forms of anesthesia in various medical situations. This program comprises theoretical coursework as well as clinical practice, which helps students gain hands-on experience working under the supervision of professionals in the field.

Principles of anesthesia
  • Study preoperative and postoperative care

  • Determine anesthetic and surgical procedure

  • Anesthesia professional

  • This course presents the theory of clinical anesthesia to Anesthesia Assistant program students

Anesthesia pharmacology
  • Drug passage across the cell membrane

  • Drug action

  • Drug interaction

  • Isomerism

  • This course is designed to provide basic instruction in the principles of pharmacology

Anatomy and physiology for nurse anesthesia
  • Presentation of anatomy and physiology 
  • Introduction to cell physiology

  • To govern anesthesia depending on the patient’s anatomy and physiology


Anesthesia certificate programs focus on merging theoretical educations with experimental rotations. Students are educated about the procedures involving specialties ranging from pediatrics to neurosurgery

Critical Care Medicine Certification
  • The program helps in understanding the Management of critically ill patients, Training in primary specialty, and Specialization in critical care medicine.

  • Utilize recognized techniques

  • Clinical judgment

  • Critical thinking

Pain medicine (PM) Certification
  • The certification includes learning of Diagnosis of painful disorders, Treatment for such disorders, Multidisciplinary subspecialty, and the anatomical basis of pain perception.

  • Application of medicine for complicated cases

Hospice and Palliative Medicine certification
  • The course knowledge offered under this is Scientific knowledge about symptom control, Research efforts about seriously ill patients, Acquire subspecialist-level knowledge and Skills in hospice and palliative medicine.

  • Acquiring deep knowledge about caring for seriously ill patients.

Salary of an Anesthesiologist

The average annual salary of an anesthesiologist is $208,000 as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. They are one of the highest-paid professionals in the country with the top 10% of anesthesiologist earning up to $275,000 approx per year and the bottom 10% earning around $47,000 per year

Job Growth of an Anesthesiologist

Employment opportunities for an anesthesiologist are projected to grow at a 7% rate between 2018 and 2028 as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS also projects that job growth is faster than the average rate of most professions. 

Best Colleges for Anesthesiologist

Here is a list of colleges that offer the best anesthesiology programs,

Academic Concentrations for Anesthesiologist

There are a number of subspecialties an anesthesiologist can opt from to specialize in. Most of them require additional training and advance skills. Following are the Anesthesiologists career opportunities you can opt for after meeting the education requirements. 

Cardiothoracic: cardiothoracic anesthesiologists train in anesthesiology for heart and chest surgeries and other invasive procedures. They also monitor a patient’s physical condition through the use of invasive monitors in addition to keeping an eye on the patient’s bodily reactions to drugs needed during a surgical procedure. They have the required knowledge about pre and postoperative care w.r.t. Cardiac conditions as well as the technology needed for the surgery. 

Critical Care Medicine: the job of a critical care anesthesiologist is to coordinate, supervise, and manage a patient’s care with the ICU team and work closely with surgeons and other specialty consultants as needed. They are responsible for diagnosing and treating patients with critical illness or injuries particularly trauma victims and patients with multiple organ dysfunction.

Neurocritical Care: neurocritical care anesthesiologists are specially trained to diagnose and manage complex and serious neurological conditions like encephalitis, traumatic brain injury, and spinal infections. They work in collaboration with neurologists and neurosurgeons, monitor the health of the patient throughout the surgery, and take part in the pre and postoperative measures.

Hospice and Palliative Medicine: anesthesiologists specializing in hospice and palliative medicine provides care to prevent and relieve the suffering experienced by patients with life-limiting illnesses. They work in collaboration with an interdisciplinary hospice and palliative care team to maximize the quality of life while addressing the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual needs of both the patient and their families.

Pediatric: anesthesiologists specializing in the treatment of neonates, infants, children, and adolescents are known as pediatric anesthesiologists. They work with patients before, after, and during surgery, diagnostics, and therapeutic procedures in order to ensure safe and effective anesthesia administration. 

Stand Out skills for an Anesthesiologist

Following are the must-have skills to become an anesthesiologist,

Critical thinking: an anesthesiologist must possess the ability to use logic and reasoning before making any decision related to a patient’s health. They should be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of an alternative decision if being made. They should be able to foresee a conclusion to a decision being made and should be ready with approaches in case of any complications.

Active Listening: anesthesiologists must be active listeners. They must pay full attention to the physician's team, the patient, and the surgery team. It is important that an anesthesiologist takes time to understand the points being made and ask questions at the appropriate time. 

Judgment and decision making: anesthesiologists should possess decision-making skills. They should be able to make decisions considering relative costs and benefits of potential actions.

Complex problem solving: one of the most important skills to possess for an anesthesiologist is to identify complex problems, review related information, develop options, and evaluate implemented solutions.