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How Many Years To Become An Anesthesiologist

Last Updated on November 28, 2022 by Omoyeni Adeniyi

Get more information regarding how to become an anesthesiologist, anesthesiologist high school requirements, how much does it cost to become an anesthesiologist & what bachelor degree should i get to become an anesthesiologist

how to become an anesthesiologist

Why is Anesthesiology a Job of Tomorrow?
Anesthesiologists will remain at the forefront of the health care industry. Their intense medical knowledge makes them a valuable asset to hospitals, as they are trained and educated to handle patients before, during and after treatments. In addition, medical advances are allowing more conditions to be addressed, and as a result, anesthesiologists will be working more with other doctors on these treatments. The average annual salary for anesthesiologists is $197,570, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

what does an anesthesiologist do?

Monitor and control the patient’s vital life functions, including heart rate and rhythm, breathing, blood pressure, body temperature and body fluid balance. Control the patient’s pain and level of consciousness to make conditions ideal for a safe and successful surgery.

What Does an Anesthesiologist Do?
Anesthesiologists administer medicine to block pain while a patient is undergoing a procedure. For example, anesthesia is used in dental offices to numb the mouth. It is also used in surgery to render patients unconscious for the operation. In addition, anesthesia is useful in keeping patients motionless, allowing for the doctor’s delicate labor to be performed without possible patient interference. Anesthesiologists consult with patients before surgery and explain the procedure to them. Anesthesiologists also plan the operation with the surgical team, considering life support, pain control and patient stabilization.

The Importance of Anesthesiologist Assistants During the Pandemic

What Kind of Training Do I Need to Become an Anesthesiologist?
Anesthesiologists are physicians who choose to specialize in anesthesiology. Therefore, they must go through the schooling that physicians undertake as well as additional courses in anesthesiology. Typically, anesthesiologists complete about 12 years of schooling. First, students must earn a four-year bachelor’s degree, then go on to earn a four-year degree in medicine. After earning either an M.D. or D.O. degree, graduates must fulfill a four-year anesthesiology residency program. Those who wish to specialize further in a specific area of anesthesiology, such as critical care medicine or education, need to complete an additional year of study. To become a board certified anesthesiologist, anesthesiologists must complete the education and residency requirements, then pass the American Board of Anesthesiology examination.

How long does it take to become an Anesthesiologist?

It takes approximately 12 to 13 years to become an anesthesiologist. A bachelor’s degree takes four years, medical school takes four years, and then another four years are spent as a resident. Some doctors follow their residency with a fellowship (another year) to further train in anesthesiology specialties like pain management, pediatric anesthesiology, or obstetric anesthesiology.

Where Do Anesthesiologists Work?

Anesthesiologists typically work in hospitals, clinics, private offices, and ambulatory care facilities, both rural and urban.

An anesthesiologist’s schedule varies considerably, even across similar settings. Some private practices offer traditional Monday-Friday hours, but most anesthesiologists work 40-60 hours per week, either on-call or on rotational, night, and weekend shifts. Anesthesiologists can also work in universities, training the next generation of professionals.


Prospective anesthesiologists need to be dedicated and detail-oriented. They also need to work well under pressure and have excellent problem-solving skills. Because patient satisfaction with anesthesia is a key measure of quality healthcare, anesthesiologists also need strong interpersonal and communication skills.

How to Become an Anesthesiologist

Becoming an anesthesiologist involves several stages of training, each described in detail below. In general, anesthesiologists must complete a four-year bachelors’ degree, a four-year medical degree, and four years of residency. Next, they must pass the national Board exam, complete a fellowship program or spend two years in private practice, acquire certification, and take a licensing exam.

Once licensed, all anesthesiologists must regularly complete continuing education courses to maintain and update their skills.


Physicians who specialize in anesthesiology begin their academic careers with an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university, typically majoring in pre-med or science. They take courses in biology, calculus, chemistry, and physics, which all prepare students for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and medical school.

However, most medical schools do not require applicants to take these courses nor have a bachelor’s degree in any of these subjects for admission. Successful physicians could have undergraduate degrees in any number of subjects, including anthropology, English, or pre-law. Instead, MCAT scores are the main determining factor.

The MCAT is required for admission to medical school. Along with evaluating candidates’ analytical skills, it tests their knowledge of biology, chemistry, psychology, and sociology. With MCAT scores in hand, prospective anesthesiologists can apply to medical school, where they must earn either a doctor of medicine (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO).

At the end of two years of coursework, students take a test called Step 1 — often referred to as “Boards.” Boards are required by the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) for MDs and by the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA) for DOs to obtain a medical license and practice medicine.

After the Boards, anesthesiology students must complete two years of clinical training, working with patients suffering a variety of ailments under the supervision of an experienced physician.

Clinical training concludes with the Step 2 test, which has two parts: a written test on internal medicine, gynecology, preventive medicine, and surgery; and an assessment of clinical skills, including communication and interpersonal skills and proficiency in English.


To enroll in a residency program, prospective anesthesiologists must complete an application that highlights their competitive USMLE or COMLEX scores, perform well during anesthesiology rotations, and provide strong letters of recommendation. On an annual Match Day, a computer program aligns candidates with residency programs based on the preferences and performances of both.

Once a match is made, residency programs for anesthesiologists take four years to complete. The first year is a “base year” of non-anesthesia training, followed by three years of focused clinical anesthesia training.

Residents take the final exam of Boards at the end of their base year. This Step 3 exam involves both a written portion and case simulations, which test whether physicians can apply their training in ambulatory settings, while treating a wound or diagnosing a patient.

How to Become an Anesthesiologist

Certification and Licensure

Like all physicians, anesthesiologists must earn and maintain a national Board license and meet any state-specific requirements before they can practice, which generally requires 1-4 years of postgraduate training. To practice within a specialty, anesthesiologists must earn additional specialist certifications.

Anesthesiologists have a couple options when it comes to earning certifications. One certifying body is the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA). Its process requires a one-year internship in anesthesia, followed by a fellowship program or two years in private practice and successful completion of three exams.

Prospective anesthesiologists take the first written exam — the Basic exam — after the first year of their internship and the second — the Advanced exam — at the end of their residency. The final exam is the Applied exam, and it has two elements: a standardized oral examination and an objective structured clinical examination.

A second certifying body is the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS). To earn this certification, candidates must meet eligibility requirements and complete both a written and an oral exam.

Once licensed, an anesthesiologist’s schooling is not over. All physicians must regularly complete continuing education courses to maintain and update their specialized certifications.

To maintain valid certification with the ABA, anesthesiologists must earn 125 continuing medical education credits (CMEs) by the end of their fifth year and another 125 by the end of their tenth. ABPS license renewal requirements also include CMEs, plus completed self-assessment questions and medical ethics courses.

What to Look for in a Program

When selecting an MD or a DO, prospective anesthesiologists should only consider accredited programs. Attending an unaccredited program will not qualify you for licensure.

Both MDs and DOs can specialize in anesthesiology, so students should consider whether they want to receive specialized training in whole-person patient care and preventive medicine, as in a DO program, or whether they prefer the conventional Western training of an MD program.

Prospective medical students should also weigh the reputation, location, and cost of potential medical schools, along with the benefits of programs with online components.

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Career Information

Becoming an anesthesiologist is a time-consuming and expensive process, so it makes sense to wonder, “how much does an anesthesiologist make?” The answer varies by location, but all that that required training translates into a median anesthesiologist salary rates of well over $200,000. In major cities, anesthesiologist salaries can top $300,000 annually.

Salary and Job Growth for Anesthesiologists

Median Salary


Job Growth (2019-2029)


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