Anesthesia Technician Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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Get the truth about an anesthesia's technician salary, education requirements and career prospects. Read the job description and duties and see the pros and cons of becoming an anesthesia technician.
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Pros and Cons of Being an Anesthesia Technician

Anesthesia technicians are part of a surgical team that assist registered nurses, anesthesiologists and doctors in providing care to perioperative patients in the operating room. Reading the pros and cons of being an anesthesia technician may help you decide if this career is right for you.

Pros of Being an Anesthesia Technician
Certificate or associate's degree program sufficient for entry-level positions*
Can advance to anesthesiology technologist position*
Can work in various medical settings**
Satisfaction in contributing to safe and healthy anesthesia care*

Cons of Being an Anesthesia Technician
May be required to work in stressful situations**
May be required to work evenings, weekends and holidays**
May be required to work on short notice**
Low to average salary (median annual wage of $36,631)***
Continuing education required for recertification*

Sources: *American Medical Association, **Multiple online job postings (found April 2012), ***PayScale.com

Career Info

Job Description and Duties

Anesthesia technicians are medical professionals who assist doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists during a surgical procedure. Prior to the procedure, they prepare medications, help set up equipment and make sure all reusable equipment is washed and sterilized. They also check for malfunctioning equipment and, if found, report it to appropriate personnel. Anesthesia technicians must be knowledgeable of standard practices and procedures regarding this field. Anesthesia techs may also help transport patients from their room to the operating room, ensuring their safety and comfort. After the surgery, these professionals help clean supplies, restock the room and order supplies as needed. They also take care of maintaining patient charts and completing any required documentation. Anesthesia technicians may also operate point-of-care lab equipment and assist with monitoring invasive and non-invasive monitoring devices.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report information for anesthesia technicians, but the U.S. Department of Labor O*Net Online page for anesthesia assistants, which includes anesthesia technicians, reported a median annual wage of $95,820 and growth rate of 14% (2014-2024) based on the data from physician's assistants in May 2014. This data does not match open market data.

According to PayScale.com data from January 2016 (498 respondents), anesthesia technicians earned between $24,000 to $51,000, including salary and bonuses. Salary.com also listed the median annual wage for anesthesia technicians at just over $38,000 as of January 2016.

These data more closely mirror that of medical and clinical laboratory technicians from BLS: $38,370 median annual wage (May 2014) and 18% growth rate (2014-2024). Salaries vary by location and experience. Although anesthesia technicians may be employed in various medical settings, the majority work at hospitals.

What Are the Requirements?

Becoming an anesthesia technician requires completion of a formal training program. In addition to having high school diplomas, applicants must provide proof of CPR certification, health insurance, current immunizations and a negative TB screening. Applicants must also submit to criminal background checks.

Education and Training

Anesthesia technician training programs may be offered as certificate or associate's degree programs. To meet the National Standard Curriculum set by the American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians (ASATT), students must complete at least 800 hours of didactic studies and 800 hours of clinical education. The curriculum combines coursework with lab studies, seminars, clinical education and possible internships. Course topics may include anesthesia equipment, medical terminology, EKG analysis, pharmacology, anesthesia instrumentation, patient safety, general vs regional sedation, medical gases and critical care procedures.

What Employers Are Looking For

While some workers may receive training on the job, employers usually prefer employees who have completed training programs. Having work experience in this field is also beneficial. Although this is only a small sampling of the job market, here are a few job listings for anesthesia technicians as of April 2012:

  • An Ohio medical center is in need of an experienced anesthesia technician to work in a local hospital and perform various anesthesia-related duties. Applicant must have at least three months of supervisory experience and six months of experience working in an operating room providing patient care. Candidate will provide diagnostic and treatment service for critical-care patients and will coordinate auto transfusion and anesthesia services with physicians and staff.
  • A Healthcare service provider in Las Vegas is seeking an experienced and qualified anesthesia technician. Some healthcare experience is required and preference is given to candidates with anesthesia technician experience. Candidates must be willing to work flexible hours, including weekends and holidays and must be able to respond to pages within 30 minutes. Job duties include setting up and monitoring physiological monitoring devices, operating and testing lab equipment, assisting anesthesiologists or RNs in preparing patients for medical and surgical procedures, assisting with moving patients and monitoring all testing equipment.
  • A California hospital is looking for an experienced anesthesia technician to assist and support the activities of the Department of Anesthesia. Applicants must have high school diplomas, read and write English, have computer experience and at least one year of experience as anesthesia technicians. Certification as a Certified Anesthesia Technician is also required.

How to Get an Edge in the Field

Although certification is not required for employment, employers usually prefer credentialed anesthesia technicians. To get an edge in the field, you may want to pursue certification to demonstrate your proficiency and commitment to potential employers. The only certification for anesthesia technicians is offered through the ASATT. To be eligible, applicants must have high school diplomas and computer proficiency because the exam is online. Additionally, they must have completed an associate's degree program in anesthesia technology or have two years of experience working in the anesthesia technology field. To maintain certification, candidates must complete 20 hours of continuing education every two years. The anesthesia technician exam will no longer be available after July 15, 2015.

Alternative Career Paths

Respiratory Therapist

If you want a medical position where you can help others and have patient contact, you may find that a career as a respiratory therapist is a good fit for you. Respiratory therapists provide emergency care for patients suffering from respiratory problems and breathing difficulties. Although respiratory therapists often complete bachelor's degree programs, you can become a respiratory therapist by completing an associate's degree program and obtaining licensure and certification. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that these workers have a projected employment growth of 28% between 2010 and 2020, and the average wages are substantially higher than anesthesia technicians - at $55,000 as of May 2011.

Medical Records and Health Information Technician

If you find you enjoy the medical industry but want a job that offers less or no hands-on patient care, you may want to consider becoming a medical records and health information technician. Like the anesthesia technician career, becoming a medical records and health information technician requires completion of an associate's degree program. According to the BLS, these workers earned a median wage of around $33,000 as of May 2011. It also reported that employment in this field is expected to grow 22% between 2010 and 2020.

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University of Delaware

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Northcentral University

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