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Anesthesia Technologist: Salary, Requirements and Career Info

Anesthesia technologists are part of a surgical team. They assist anesthesiologists in managing a patient's pain during surgery by administering anesthesia and monitoring patient status. These careers require the completion of an education program, which may lead to an associate's degree, diploma, or certificate. Voluntary certification is available and may be advantageous in finding employment.

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Anesthesia Technologist Job Duties

Anesthesia technologists are surgical technologists who specialize in assisting anesthesiologists. These professionals heavily assist in pre-surgery by setting up and sterilizing any necessary equipment, taking patient vital signs, and helping anesthesiologists into their sterile gowns. Additionally, before the procedure, anesthesia technologists ensure that all anesthesia equipment functions properly to keep patients sedated. During the actual surgery, anesthesia technologists may observe the vital signs of a patient, but primarily hand materials to doctors and perform minor duties, like applying dressings or monitoring operating equipment.

Anesthesia Technologist Training Information

In order to become an anesthesia technologist, a student must acquire a diploma, certificate, or an associate's degree. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) has accredited over 450 training programs around the country (www.caahep.org). These programs may require anywhere from 9-24 months to finish and include instruction in basic pharmacology, anesthetics, instrumentation and EKG analysis.

In addition to the necessary education and job training, it's highly recommended that an anesthesia technologist acquire voluntary professional certification. Certified Surgical Technologist certification is available to anesthesia technologists who have graduated from a program accredited by CAAHEP. The National Board of Surgical Technology and Surgical Assisting administers the certification exam. To maintain certification, anesthesia technologists must pursue continuing education or retake the examination every four years.

Anesthesia Technologist Career and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 97,150 surgical technology positions, including anesthesia technology positions, in the country in 2012 (www.bls.gov). The BLS also reports that 69% of all surgical technology positions were in general and surgical hospitals.

The BLS predicted that employment opportunities in this field would grow by about 19% between 2010-2020, a rate that's average when compared to all occupations. This growth is largely due to an increase in aging populations and the number of surgical procedures they receive. Those anesthesia technologists who hold certification were mostly likely to experience better employment opportunities. The BLS reported in May 2012 that the median annual salary earned by all kinds of surgical technologists was $41,790. Salary.com indicated in December 2013 that the median salary earned among anesthesia technicians was $36,086.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics