Whether you’re a working RN thinking of advancing your career or a newly enrolled nursing student with high hopes for the future, a career as a CRNA can be exactly what you’re looking for. Every year, CRNAs administer more than 49 million anesthetics to patients in the U.S., and that number is growing. As an advanced practice registered nurse, CRNAs can expect higher-than-average annual salaries and a wide range of options when it comes to job setting including hospitals, surgery centers, physician’s offices, dental clinics, and military health facilities.
If you’re ready to start your journey to an advanced nursing career, finding the right degree program should be your first step. Keep reading to see what options you have when it comes to education, accreditation, and cost, and explore the online CRNA programs that can help you meet your career goals.
Top Online CRNA Programs of 2023
Finding the online CRNA program that fits with your academic, professional, and financial needs can take time as you compare and contrast your options. That’s where we come in. We’ve identified some of the top online schools and programs for aspiring certified registered nurse anesthetists. We’ve also vetted these programs to ensure they provide the accreditation employers expect and the price tag you need. Check out two of the best for 2022 below.
FAQs About CRNA Programs Online
As you review the specifics of individual online CRNA programs, it’s not unusual to have questions along the way. While some of these relate to individual universities, there are plenty of general questions throughout this process. We answer some of the most common of those questions below.
Paying for Your Online Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Degree
It’s no secret that college can be pricey. If you’re not one of the few people who can pay out of pocket, the good news is that plenty of funding options exist. Bringing together a mix of scholarships, grants, fellowships, and work-study options can make the amount you need to borrow in student loans far lower. Here are some of the options to consider when it comes to funding your online CRNA program.
Scholarships & Grants
Because you don’t have to pay them back, scholarships and grants are a great option for lowering the price of your degree. Professional associations, colleges and universities, healthcare organizations, and state/federal governments frequently offer these types of awards.
Student loans provided by the federal government can help bridge the gap between the amount of funding you’re able to secure and the remaining balance for your education. If you want to understand the difference between private and governmental loans, check out our student loan guide.
At the graduate level, fellowships and assistantships serve as a great way to both gain experience in research and/or teaching while also getting a stipend or tuition remission. Some post-graduate fellowships may also offer paid opportunities. If you qualify under the FAFSA, you may also be able to earn money through the federal work-study program at your university.
Accreditation Standards for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist Degree Programs
When it comes to your CRNA education, both institutional and program accreditation are extremely important. After finding a regionally accredited institution, you should look for individual programs accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs (COA). The COA provides a searchable database so you can locate a properly accredited CRNA program.
If you’re unsure whether a specific college or program holds accreditation, you can use the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Postsecondary Institutions and Programs. Failing to complete this important step can make it difficult or even impossible to transfer credits, seek certification, or even find work.
Careers & Salary Outlooks for Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists
The job market for certified registered nurse anesthetists looks incredibly promising for the future. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs for these professionals will grow by an impressive 12% between 2021-2031. An additional 5,300 jobs should be added to the existing 45,200 during that timeframe.
If you’re looking for job security and the opportunity to feel confident in your career choice, a career as a certified registered nurse anesthetist could be a perfect fit. Reasons for this growth include both more access to medical procedures and a larger number of existing CRNAs retiring or changing industries.
How much do CRNAs make?
Certified registered nurse anesthetists earn salaries far above the national average, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting annual mean wages of $174,790 in 2019. Those in the lowest 10% of earners brought home $127,480 in 2019 while those in the top 10% commanded annual salaries of more than $208,000 during the same time period.
If you want to work in a state with the highest wages for the occupation, consider Wyoming, Montana, Oregon, Wisconsin, or California. In the highest paying state of Wyoming, nurse anesthetists earned an average of $243,310 in 2019.
Continuing Education & Related Careers
Because the field of healthcare generally – and anesthesia specifically – continues to evolve based on new research and findings, staying aware of changes in the field is of utmost importance. Every state sets unique requirements around continuing education, making it important that you stay abreast of these once you begin to practice.
As mentioned previously, every state board of nursing sets continuing education credit minimums that CRNAs must meet during each renewal cycle of their license. It’s the responsibility of each CRNA to ensure they meet these requirements. Fortunately, many organizations and professional associations offer opportunities to participate in continuing education training both online and in person.
The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists keeps a regularly updated list of opportunities and provides more than 40 online courses that members can take advantage of throughout the year. You can also check with your employer to learn about on-site programming.
Related Degrees to Consider
- MD in AnesthesiaAnesthesiologists must complete a medical degree followed by a multi-year residency. These programs typically last four to six years and introduce learners to the skills and topics needed to practice anesthesiology outside the supervision of other healthcare providers.
- MS in AnesthesiaThese degrees typically require two years of full-time study and prepare graduates for work as anesthesiology assistants. While CRNAs can work on their own, anesthesiology assistants must work under the supervision of an anesthesiologist. They are also not considered nurses.
- AS in Anesthesia TechnologyIf you’re interested in working in anesthesia but are just starting out, an associate degree in anesthesia technology could help you test the waters. These two-year degrees allow you to work under the supervision of CRNAs and anesthesiologists and provide a firm foundation for continued study if you decide to progress your career over time.
Resources for CRNA Students & Professionals
- A Day in the Life of a Nurse Anesthesia Student
The University of Buffalo provides this resource to help you get a sense of what undertaking a CRNA degree entails.
- American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
AANA members can take advantage of continuing education, publications, state-level resources, and an active career center.
- Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship Program
In an effort to bring more CRNAs of diverse backgrounds into the field, this program provides mentorship to students and recent grads alike.
- State-Level Nurse Anesthetists Associations
The Kentucky Association of Nurse Anesthetists provides just one example of the many state-level member associations available for you to join.
- National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists
To become a CRNA, you must take the certification exam administered by the NBCRNA.
- Types of Careers in Anesthesia
The American Society of Anesthesiologists highlights the variety of jobs available in this area to help you make an informed decision about next steps.
- What is it Like Being a Nurse Anesthetist?
Rasmussen College answers this question to help you visualize your career after graduating.