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Anesthesiologist Education Requirements & Salary

by Karen Farnen, Demand Media

Monitoring of vital signs helps keep patients safe.
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Anesthesiologists help relieve pain and keep patients safe before, during and after surgery and other medical
procedures. In addition to administering drugs, they monitor the patient's consciousness, breathing, blood pressure
and heart rate. The rigorous requirements for a career as an anesthesiologist include a bachelor's degree, a medical
degree, a residency and a state medical license. Anesthesiologists earn a high income suitable to their weighty
responsibilities and lengthy preparation.
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Undergraduate Degree
Prospective anesthesiologists must finish a four-year bachelor's degree before medical school. No specific major is
necessary, but pre-med courses usually include organic chemistry, calculus, physics, biology and English.
Volunteering in a health care environment during college also helps in the competition for medical school
Medical Degree
After the bachelor's degree, an anesthesiologist needs a professional degree as an M.D., doctor of medicine, or D.O.,
doctor of osteopathy. During the first two years of professional school, students take classes in basic subjects, such
as biochemistry, anatomy and medical ethics, and learn patient care and diagnostic techniques. The final two years
are spent working in clinics or hospitals. Under the supervision of licensed physicians, students gain experience
through rotations in various specialties, such as surgery, family practice and pediatrics.
Related Reading: The Duties of the Anesthesiologist During Surgery
Residency and Fellowship
After the medical degree, anesthesiologists must compete a residency in anesthesiology to become specialists. The
National Residency Matching Program, or NRMP, helps students find residency programs in a specialty.
Anesthesiologists generally complete a one-year general internship plus three additional years as residents in
anesthesiology. A minimum of four years after medical school is necessary for U.S. board certification. Some
physicians also pursue an optional fifth year in a fellowship position in a sub-specialty, such as cardiac
Licensing and Board Certification
All states require licensing of anesthesiologists and other physicians. Each state sets its own criteria, but in general
you must complete an accredited medical degree and residency in addition to passing national examinations and
fulfilling state requirements. Osteopathic physicians must pass the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing
Examination, while M.D.s take the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination. After completing their residencies,
anesthesiologists can receive optional board certification by passing oral and written exams from the American
Board of Anesthesiology.
Earnings and Outlook
Anesthesiologists earned an average hourly wage of $112.96 as of May 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics. This equaled an annual income of $234,950 for a year of 40-hour weeks. The BLS predicts rapid job
growth for physicians and surgeons, with a 24 percent increase from 2010 to 2020. Demand for physicians will be
especially great in lower-income and rural locations.
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American Society of Anesthesiologists