A certificate or associate's degree is typically required to be an anesthesia technician. Anesthesia technicians usually work in hospital operating rooms. High demand for anesthesia technicians is expected through 2024.
Most anesthesia technicians work under the supervision of licensed anesthesiologists. While technicians usually work in operating rooms, many may also work in intensive care units, emergency ambulatory vehicles and emergency rooms. Most anesthesia technicians obtain their education through undergraduate certificate and associate's degree programs.
|Required Education||Postsecondary certificate or degree|
|Other Requirements||Certification available but not required|
|Mean Annual Wage (2015)||$44,330 for surgical technologists*|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||15% for surgical technologists*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Anesthesia Technician Required Education
Degree and Certificate Programs
Since most anesthesia technicians work in operating rooms, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies these workers as surgical technologists and shows that entry-level workers in this field often require certificates or associate's degrees related to their field of specialty (www.bls.gov). To become an anesthesia technician, students can enroll in either anesthesia technology or anesthesia technician degree or certificate programs.
Coursework often includes anatomy and physiology, anesthesia pharmacology, medical terminology and anesthesia instrumentation. Students usually start learning by practicing on mannequins, including learning how to set-up intubation tubes and monitor anesthesia equipment. During required clinical rotations, students work under the supervision of a team of surgical professionals where they can practice their skills on real patients in need.
Although certification is not required, it may help job seekers find employment in competitive markets. Among other nationally recognized certifying boards, the American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians (ASATT) offers the anesthesia technician certification program.
Basic eligibility requirements to sit for the ASATT anesthesia technician certification exam include a high school diploma and the ability to use computers since the exam is completely online. Other requirements include either two years of work experience in the anesthesia technician field or completion of an approved associate degree program related to anesthesia technology.
The exam covers questions on anesthesia methodologies, equipment monitoring, operating room duties, infectious disease control and airway management. Applicants who pass the exam must renew their certification every two years by completing a minimum of 20 ASATT approved continued education credits.
Anesthesia Technician Career Profile
Anesthesia technicians assist licensed anesthesiologists during surgical procedures. Prior to surgery, technicians sterilize and check equipment to make sure everything is running correctly. They also set-up anesthesia tools and medications ordered for the specific surgery, and may be involved with patient transport and positioning, depending on the needs of the surgical staff.
During surgery, anesthesia technicians monitor anesthesia equipment and verify that patients are receiving the appropriate amount of anesthesia. They hand tools to the anesthesiologist and assist the anesthesiologist with tasks such as keeping the patient's airway clear. After surgery, technicians may follow-up with patients to check on post-anesthesia recovery.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS does not make exact predictions for anesthesia technician employment growth rates. However, under the larger category of surgical technologists, the BLS predicted a 15% job growth for these workers in the years 2014-2024. The BLS reported in May 2015 that surgical technologists earned a mean annual salary of $44,330.
Anesthesia technicians assist with surgical operations. They perform tasks that are critical to ensure the success of the surgery, including sterilizing equipment, ensuring equipment is working properly, assisting the anesthesiologist and monitoring the equipment during surgery to make sure that the patient is receiving the right amount of anesthesia. The job growth in this field is strong and candidates with a certificate or associate's degree should be able to compete successfully for positions in this field.