Anesthesia Technician Vs Technologist Comparison

Jan 02, 2019

Anesthesiologists are an important component to a surgical procedure as a surgeon is. In order to do their job, they need the help of technologists or technicians. This article gives a comparison of these two similar medical jobs and discusses some of their differences.

Comparing Anesthesia Technicians to Technologists

Anesthesia technicians and technologists are vital contributors to the operating room of any hospital or clinic. These professionals are in charge of preparing the anesthesia equipment for any procedure involving putting a patient under anesthesia. This equipment must be kept clean and maintained by technicians/technologists. Below is a comparison of the two plus some vital career information.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Anesthesia Technician High School Diploma & formal course work $37,828** 15% (for all surgical technologists)
Anesthesia Technologist Associate's Degree or Certificate program $45,160 (for all surgical technologists) 15% (for all surgical technologists)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ** (2017 salary)

Responsibilities of Anesthesia Technicians vs. Technologists

Anesthesia technicians and technologists are assistants to anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists working in a surgical arena in a hospital, clinic or maternity delivery setting. These professionals set-up anesthesia equipment that they are in charge of. They keep the equipment clean and maintained at all times. They retrieve needed equipment the anesthetist might need. They may assist with line placements and intubations or spinals and epidurals. Generally, technicians and technologists perform the same duties, but technologists have more responsibilities in the preparation and maintenance of the surgical space.

Anesthesia Technicians

Depending on the state and their requirements, anesthesia technicians do not need much more than a high school diploma, some on-the-job training and a course in medical terminology. Most of this education can be learned directly under the hospital's supervision. They do need to be certified in some states and many hospitals. Formal programs may be one year certification or two-year associate's degree. Technicians will have less responsibilities than technologists, but will still be in charge of keeping anesthesia equipment clean and running properly.

Job responsibilities of an anesthesia technician include:

  • Support anesthesiologists, anesthesiologist assistants and surgical nurses
  • Maintain and monitor the functionality of anesthesia equipment
  • Test, sterilize, calibrate and troubleshoot equipment
  • Keep a log of equipment inspections and servicing
  • Operate equipment like electronic and pneumatic devices
  • Transport patients

Anesthesia Technologists

Anesthesia technologists normally need a postsecondary certification or an associate's degree to become a technologist. While optional, technologists could earn the Certified Surgical Technologist credential. They will have more responsibility than a technician although they will do a lot of the same things as a technician. They may be tasked with monitoring a patient's vital signs while they are under anesthesia. Their main duty is to aid the anesthesiologists before and during the surgical procedure.

Job responsibilities of an anesthesia technologist include:

  • Take patient's vital signs before surgery and monitor during surgery
  • Retrieve equipment that may be needed during a surgical emergency
  • Hand instruments and materials to doctors and anesthesiologists
  • Maintain a record of the number of supplies
  • Get patients ready for surgery by washing and disinfecting the surgical sites

Related Careers

Anesthesia technicians and technologists work very closely in surgical units at hospitals and clinics. There are some related fields that may also draw some interest such as becoming a licensed practical nurse giving basic care to patients in hospitals. Another might be as a medical assistant who does basic tasks such as administration or clinical work in the office.

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