Anesthesiologists are doctors who specialize in the management and treatment of pain. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 661,400 physician were working in 2008. Of these, approximately 5.5 percent, or 36,377, were anesthesiologists. Like other types of physicians, anesthesiologists are some of the most highly paid professionals in the country.
Anesthesiologists are physicians who specialize in pain relief. Anesthesiologists work directly with patients and other doctors and are responsible for monitoring vital life signs before, during and after surgery. Any time a patient must be sedated for pain or surgical reasons, an expert anesthesiologist is required. Anesthesiologists are either medical doctors or doctors of osteopathic medicine. Generally, doctors of osteopathic medicine take a holistic approach to preventing pain, while medical doctors focus on treating specific symptoms. Both of these physician certifications are nationally recognized and have challenging education and training requirements
All doctors, including anesthesiologists, must complete many years of formal education before being allowed to practice medicine. This education begins at the undergraduate level, where future physicians must study courses such as biology, chemistry, and physics. After obtaining four-year bachelor's degrees, students must apply for medical school. During four years of medical school, students study in both classrooms and laboratories, taking courses such as anatomy, pharmacology and biochemistry. The last two years of medical school are spent in hospitals and clinics, where students work with supervising physicians to gain hands-on medical experience. Following this hands-on training, physician students are able to choose anesthesiology as their medical specialty and begin a residency program. Anesthesiologists receive paid specialty training during this time and are able to practice medicine without direct supervision after this training is complete.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for this career is projected to expand at a much faster rate than the U.S. average over the next several years. Job opportunities are expected to be very good for qualified physicians, including anesthesiologists. Specifically, the BLS projects that between 2008 and 2018, employment of all doctors will increase by 22 percent. This growth is due in part to an expanding population and an increased number of senior citizens. In anticipation of these trends, many medical schools are increasing their yearly enrollment, creating more opportunities for individuals who wish to become anesthesiologists or other physicians.
The BLS reports that the mean annual wage for all anesthesiologists was $211,750 in 2009. This salary usually increases for physicians with more experience and education. According to a salary survey published by Locum Tenens, the average salary for an anesthesiologist with between six and 10 years of experience is $330,192. For anesthesiologists with over 10 years of experience, this average salary increases to $377,121.