Anesthesiologists administer pain-killing medication to patients and monitor their vital signs during a surgical procedure. Apart from working in the operating room, they also provide treatment to patients suffering from chronic pain and individuals in intensive care.

Anesthesiologists regularly collaborate with surgeons and other doctors to devise pre-surgery and post-surgery treatment plans. As of 2019, there are over 31,000 licensed Anesthesiologists working in the United States as per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you want to join their ranks, this piece will tell you how to do it.

Should I Become a Anesthesiologist?

Education MD (Doctor of Medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degree
Area of Study/Major Requirement Medicine
License/Certification Required
Experience/Training Required
Key Skills Operating Room Prep, Critical Thinking, Judgment and Decision Making, Complex Problem Solving and Communication.
Annual Mean Salary (2019) $261,730
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 7% (Physicians and Surgeons)

Sources: US Bureau of Labor Statistics and O*Net Online

To become an Anesthesiologist, you will need strong organizational, leadership, problem-solving and communication skills. Patience and an eye for detail are also important. Furthermore, good stamina will be needed as anesthesiologists have to stand for long periods during surgeries.

Career Outlook

The decade from 2018 to 2028 will witness a 7% growth in employment opportunities for Physicians and Surgeons. This is a bit higher than the rise predicted in many other fields. It will be driven by an ever-increasing and ageing population having greater healthcare demands.

Steps to Become a Anesthesiologist in the US

The following steps lead to becoming an Anesthesiologist in the US.

  1. Bachelor’s Degree
  2. Start your journey to becoming an Anesthesiologist by enrolling in a Bachelor’s program. Medical schools accept students with diverse backgrounds; therefore, you are not obligated to pick a specific major at this point. All you have to do is ensure that the prerequisites are being fulfilled. For most medical schools, this usually means earning some course credits in mathematics, biology, chemistry, psychology and physics, etc.

  1. Ace the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)
  2. The next step involves taking the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT). Candidates usually sit for the MCAT in the third or fourth year of undergrad studies. Getting a good score is crucial for admission to a top medical school.

  1. Medical School
  2. Just like your Bachelor’s degree program, medical school will take 4 years to complete. You will graduate with either a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) or an MD (Doctor of Medicine) degree.

  1. Join a Residency Program in Anesthesiology
  2. Following medical school graduation, it is time to join a residency program at a health facility in the state where you plan to work. This will last for about 4 years. Of these, you will spend the first year doing clinical rotations in general medicine while the next three will include rigorous anesthesiology training.

  1. Enter a Sub-Specialty Fellowship Program (Optional)
  2. If you plan on working within a specific branch of anesthesiology, then you will have to undergo a post-residency fellowship. It is normally 1 to 2 years long with the following sub-specialties available.

  • Pediatric Anesthesiology
  • Neurosurgery Anesthesiology
  • Dental Anesthesiology
  • Transplant Anesthesiology
  1. Get Your License
  2. The final step is getting your state license to work as an anesthesiologist. Requirements are different in different states but candidates usually have to qualify a standardized exam (apart from fulfilling some other requirements) to be eligible.
    Following on from the residency, you can take the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA) exam. This is optional but the majority of anesthesiologists working in the United States are certified by the ABA.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Anesthesiologist?

To become an Anesthesiologist, you will first spend 4 years getting a Bachelor’s degree. This will be followed by 4 years in medical school, 4 years in residency and possibly 1-2 years in a post-residency fellowship. All in all, you will need around 12 to 14 years.

What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Anesthesiologist

Following are the requirements for making a career as an Anesthesiologist.

  • Getting an undergrad degree.
  • Attaining a medical degree, usually MD (Doctor of Medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine).
  • Completing a residency program in anesthesiology.
  • Getting licensed by the relevant state body.


How Much Can I Make After Becoming a Anesthesiologist?

According to the data made public by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, Anesthesiologists had an annual mean salary of $261,730 in 2019.