Anesthesiology Assistant: Job Description & Career Info

Learn about a career as an anesthesiology assistant. Read the job description, duties, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to decide if this is the right career for you.

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Career Definition for an Anesthesiology Assistant

Anesthesiology assistants work under the supervision of a licensed anesthesiologist, helping them to provide pain management to patients during medical procedures. The job responsibilities of an anesthesiology assistant include meeting with patients and recording their health history, as well as developing, implementing and monitoring safe and effective pain management strategies. Most anesthesiology assistants work in larger medical centers. According to the American Academy of Anesthesiology Assistants (AAAA), licensing or similar regulations are in place in 18 states, with another 12 allowing anesthesiology assistants to perform some work as directed by an anesthesiologist.

Education Bachelor's and master's degree
Job Skills Attention to detail, organizational and critical thinking skills, ability to take direction well and work with others, and manual dexterity
Median Salary (2017)* $104,860 (for physician assistants)
Job Growth (2016-2026)* 37% (for physician assistants)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements

According to the AAAA, all anesthesiology assistants must hold a bachelor's degree with a pre-medical background and complete a specialty program at the graduate level, including both didactic instruction and clinical work. Anesthesiology assistants must begin by earning a bachelor's degree, usually with a pre-med major like biology, chemistry or microbiology. Anesthesiology assistants then must earn a master's degree from an accredited program. The AAAA reported in 2019 that there were 12 schools with accredited anesthesiology programs in the country. Program curriculum may require two or more years to complete. Students of anesthesiology assistant programs study physiology, anesthetic science, pharmacology, and anatomy.

Licensing Requirements

Once their formal education has concluded, anesthesiology assistants may then pursue certification and state licensing in order to practice. State laws vary as to licensing and certification requirements. State regulations also vary as to what kind of work anesthesiology assistants can perform in operating rooms.

Required Skills

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that anesthesiology assistants needed the below qualities:

  • Strong attention to detail and the wish to help others
  • Organization skills
  • Ability to take direction well from supervising anesthesiologists
  • Ability to work well in a pressure-packed situation
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Manual dexterity

Employment and Salary Outlook

Anesthesiology assistants are most likely to find job opportunities within larger hospitals, and success may vary based on hospital funding. The BLS reported that employment opportunities for physician assistants, such as anesthesiology assistants, were expected to grow much faster than average (37%) between 2016 and 2026, and had an annual median salary of $104,860 in 2017.

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