A career in nurse anesthesia can prove to be a fairly lucrative one. Currently, it is not necessary to possess a doctorate in nurse anesthesia to work as a nurse anesthetist. However, by 2015, the rules regarding that will change and a doctorate will be required. The salary data for working nurse anesthetists is inclusive of all working as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists.
In 2004, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) voted on a new requirement in the field of advanced nursing practice. Prior to 2004, advanced nursing practices such as nurse anesthetists and nurse practitioners had to complete a master’s degree in order to practice. The new requirement voted on by the AACN requires that all advanced nursing practices must possess a doctorate by the year 2015. If you are considering a career in the field of nurse anesthesia, you will have to complete your doctorate unless you can finish necessary schooling before 2015.
Working Through Post-Graduate
Nurse anesthetists must first be registered nurses. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average salary for a registered nurse is approximately $65,000, which corresponds to about $31 per hour. The salary you earn as a registered nurse does depend on where you live. In certain areas RNs earn only $44,190 annually, while in other areas RNs can make up to $95,130 per year. If you are considering getting your doctorate for nurse anesthesia, these are the salary ranges you can expect as you work your way through graduate school as a registered nurse.
Achieving a Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) is not yet required to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). However, by 2015 the doctorate will be required and many universities have added a program to meet this new need (for example, Virginia Commonwealth University). If you can get your CRNA before 2015, you will be "grandfathered" in and won't have to possess a doctorate to practice. To become a CRNA, you must have a bachelor's degree in an applicable field and a master's degree in nurse anesthesia, be a registered nurse, have one year of "acute care" nursing experience and pass the CRNA exam. Nurse anesthetists work in many settings, including hospitals and pain clinics.
Right now, the salary average for a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), including those possessing doctorates, is well into the six figures. According to CNN Money, experienced nurse anesthetists earn $157,000 per year on average. That amount can go up to $214,000. Nurse anesthetists working on a contract basis tend to earn more than those working directly for hospitals. According to the BLS, nursing careers will experience a 22 percent growth in employment by 2018. If you are willing to invest the time and education, you could find yourself earning a six-figure income as a doctor of nursing anesthesia.