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Are you interested in pursuing a career in the healthcare industry? Have you considered becoming an anesthesia technician? This rewarding career path offers competitive salary and benefits, job stability and security, and opportunities for career advancement. In this step-by-step guide, we will explore the requirements and steps to become an anesthesia technician.
What is an Anesthesia Technician?
An anesthesia technician, also known as an anesthesia tech or anesthesia technologist, is a healthcare professional who works under the direction of an anesthesiologist to assist with the administration and monitoring of anesthesia during medical procedures. Their main role is to prepare equipment, monitor patients during anesthesia, assist anesthesiologists in delivering anesthesia care and ensuring the safety and comfort of patients before, during, and after anesthesia.
Anesthesia technicians work in various settings like hospitals, surgery centers, dental offices, and physician offices. They play a critical role in anesthesia delivery and patient care before, during, and after medical procedures requiring anesthesia.
Anesthesia Technician Job Description
The core job responsibilities of an anesthesia tech include:
- Preparing the operating room by arranging equipment and supplies such as anesthesia machine, monitors, intubation equipment, IV supplies, and other items required during anesthesia.
- Performing safety checks on anesthesia delivery systems before use.
- Assisting anesthesiologist during intubation and extubation procedures.
- Monitoring patient vital signs like blood pressure, pulse, respiration, blood oxygen levels during anesthesia administration.
- Maintaining patient airway and adjusting anesthesia levels as directed by the anesthesiologist.
- Recording the patient’s vital parameters, anesthesia dosages, IV fluids given, and other details on the anesthesia record.
- Handling emergence from anesthesia by maintaining airway till patients regain consciousness.
- Restocking supplies, cleaning and disinfecting equipment in the operating room.
- Fulfilling administrative tasks like updating patient medical records, documentation, inventory management.
- Responding quickly to emergencies and notifying the anesthesiologist if patient condition deteriorates.
- In summary, anesthesia technologists work closely with anesthesiologists and surgeons to ensure safe anesthesia delivery by preparing equipment, monitoring patients, and assisting during critical stages of anesthesia administration.
How to Become an Anesthesia Technician
Prerequisites to Become an Anesthesia Tech
To qualify for anesthesia tech training programs, you typically need:
- High school diploma or equivalent credential like GED
- Completion of some basic college-level science courses like anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry. Having an associate’s degree in science field would be preferred.
- Strong academic performance in math, science, and health subjects
- Manual dexterity and physical stamina to stand for long hours
- Attention to detail and ability to work under pressure
- Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
Education Required to become Anesthesia Technician
There are two main educational paths to become an anesthesia technologist:
1. Anesthesia Technician Certificate Program
Most commonly, anesthesia technicians complete a 12-18 months certificate program. These programs provide classroom education and clinical experience focused on anesthesia technology.
Coursework covers topics like anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, anesthesia equipment, patient monitoring, emergency response, CPR, medical law and ethics.
Through clinical rotations, students get hands-on training in hospital operating rooms to prepare them for the job.
Accredited programs also ready students for the Certified Anesthesia Technician (Cer.A.T.) exam.
2. Associate’s Degree in Anesthesia Technology
Some community colleges and technical schools offer a 2-year associate’s degree program in anesthesia technology.
Along with anesthesia-specific training, these programs provide more comprehensive coursework in sciences, medical terminology, clinical procedures, critical care concepts.
The added general education and advanced medical training helps create well-rounded anesthesia technologist prepared for supervisory roles.
An associate’s degree may be required for leadership or management positions in the field.
What Degree Do I Need to Become an Anesthesia Technician?
The minimum requirement is a certificate from an accredited anesthesia technology program. An associate’s degree can enhance your clinical expertise and open up more advanced career options but is not mandatory.
Ultimately, enroll in the highest credential program you can find that aligns with your career goals, aptitude, schedule, and budget.
Steps to Become an Anesthesia Technician
Here is a step-by-step guide to becoming an anesthesia tech:
Step 1: Research and understand the role of an anesthesia technician
Before pursuing a career as an anesthesia technologist, it is important to research and understand the role and responsibilities of the position. Talk to current anesthesia technicians, read job descriptions, and explore educational and certification requirements.
Step 2: Complete educational requirements
Most employers require anesthesia technicians to have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers may also require completion of a formal anesthesia technician program. Research and enroll in an accredited program that meets your educational and career goals. Below we have given the breakdown of educational requirements in simple steps.
- Earn a High School Diploma
A high school diploma or GED provides the foundation to pursue anesthesia technician education. Take science courses like biology, chemistry, anatomy to prepare for college-level coursework.
- Complete Prerequisite College Courses
Take basic college-level classes like anatomy, physiology, biology, medical terminology if these weren’t covered in high school. These form a prerequisite for entrance into anesthesia tech programs.
- Enroll in an Accredited Anesthesia Technician Program
look for a 1-2 year certificate or associate’s degree program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
Step 3: Gain hands-on experience through internships or on-the-job training
Complete Clinical Rotations
Spend supervised time in real clinical settings like hospitals, surgery centers to get hands-on experience assisting anesthesiologists.
Step 4: Earn Professional Certification
Become certified by the American Society of Anesthesia Technologists & Technicians (ASATT) to boost your credentials and job prospects.
Step 5: Apply for State Licensing If Required
Some states require licensure to work as anesthesia technicians. Earn state licensure if mandated in your state.
Step 6: Apply for anesthesia technician positions and continue professional development
Take continuing education courses annually to stay updated on the latest anesthesia protocols, equipment, patient safety practices.
With diligent preparation, you can become an anesthesia tech within 1-2 years and launch your healthcare career!
How Do I Become an Anesthesia Technician?
To recap, follow these key steps:
- Meet prerequisite requirements for an accredited anesthesia technician program
- Enroll in a certificate or associate’s degree program in anesthesia technology
- Complete coursework and clinical rotations
- Obtain professional certification from ASATT
- Apply for state licensure if required
- Find a job as an anesthesia technician through campus placements or independent applications
- Pursue ongoing continuing education to advance your career
How Long Does It Take to Become an Anesthesia Technician?
Most students become qualified anesthesia techs within 12-24 months by completing an accredited program. Here is a breakdown:
- Certificate programs take 12-18 months
- Associate’s degree programs take 2 years
- Prerequisite college courses may take 1-2 semesters before enrolling in a program
- Professional certification exam preparation takes around 3-6 months
So you can typically expect 1-2 years of training to become job-ready. Going for an associate’s degree will take closer to 2 years but provides more comprehensive training.
With proper preparation and persistence, you can start working as an anesthesia technician within 18-24 months post high school.
Anesthesia Technician Salary
The average salary for anesthesia technicians in the United States is $51,530 per year. However, wages vary based on factors like:
Anesthesia techs in metropolitan areas and big cities earn more than rural regions. For instance:
California – $63,420
Texas – $53,500
Florida – $51,210
Illinois – $50,290
Compare this to more rural states:
Idaho – $42,680
South Dakota – $44,310
Wyoming – $47,500
According to Payscale, entry-level anesthesia techs with less than 1 year of experience made an average of $33,000 whereas mid-career professionals with 5-10 years of experience earned around $48,000.
Veteran anesthesia techs take on training/leadership roles earning $60,000+ per year.
Those employed by the government, universities, or the armed forces made the highest average salary of $54,010. Anesthesia techs in hospitals made slightly lower at $51,000 while those in physician offices or labs made around $49,000.
To maximize your earning potential as an anesthesia technician, look for jobs in metropolitan, high-paying states and specialties. Gaining experience and leadership roles also boosts salaries significantly over a career.
Anesthesia Technician School
When choosing an anesthesia technician program, look for:
Select a program accredited by CAAHEP which is the gold standard for quality. Accreditation validates that the curriculum, instructors, and hands-on training meet industry benchmarks. It qualifies you to sit for the ASATT national certification exam.
Choose experienced faculty with years of real-world experience in anesthesia delivery. They will provide the best hands-on training.
Look for ample opportunities for clinical rotations in hospital ORs to build skills and make connections. Programs with rotation partnerships ensure exclusive hands-on learning.
Certification Exam Preparation
The top schools have high first-time pass rates for ASATT’s certification exam, imparting the knowledge you need to excel.
Leading programs provide interview preparation, resume building, career counseling and job search assistance so you can smoothly transition into the workplace.
Find the most economical program that matches your career aspirations. Community colleges offer value while certain employers offer tuition assistance programs.
If needed to balance work, some schools offer evening, weekend or online classes. Just be sure hands-on clinical hours meet certification requirements.
Best Schools for Anesthesia Technician
Here are some of the top-rated anesthesia technology programs in the country:
Johnson College (Scranton, PA)
Ivy Tech Community College (Indiana)
Fox Valley Technical College (Appleton, WI)
Pima Medical Institute (Multiple campuses)
Brightwood College (Multiple campuses)
Sanford-Brown College (Multiple campuses)
West Coast University (Dallas, TX)
Remington College (Mobile, AL)
Southeast Community College (Lincoln, NE)
Cardiac and Vascular Institute of Ultrasound (Multiple locations)
Look for a program that best suits your specific situation to maximize your chances of success.
Anesthesia Technician Program Accreditation
When researching schools, verify that their anesthesia technician certificate or degree program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
CAAHEP is the largest programmatic accreditor in the health sciences field. Their approval ensures the curriculum meets national educational and clinical standards for the profession.
Graduating from a CAAHEP-accredited program will make you eligible to take the ASATT certification exam which is the gold standard in the field. It also qualifies you for better jobs and higher salaries.
So always look for the CAAHEP seal of approval when evaluating anesthesia tech programs.
Anesthesia Technician Colleges
Many community and technical colleges offer anesthesia technician programs alongside universities and career schools. Benefits of attending an anesthesia tech program at a community college include:
Community college tuition tends to cost significantly less than private colleges. This saves money on your educational investment.
Associate Degree Options
Community colleges offer 2-year associate’s degrees in anesthesia technology for enhanced clinical training.
General education credits earned can transfer to a four-year university if you later pursue a bachelor’s degree.
Academic Support Services
Services like tutoring, advising, career counseling are available to support your success.
Flexible schedules like evening and weekend classes accommodate working students.
Top community colleges for anesthesia technician training include:
Wake Technical Community College (Raleigh, NC)
Western Dakota Technical Institute (Rapid City, SD)
Lincoln Land Community College (Springfield, IL)
College of DuPage (Glen Ellyn, IL)
Otero Junior College (La Junta, CO)
Broward College (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
Lee College (Baytown, TX)
Colorado Mountain College (Glenwood Springs, CO)
Sinclair College (Dayton, OH)
Southwest Virginia Community College (Richlands, VA)
Be sure to verify the program is CAAHEP-accredited to qualify for certification. Community colleges offer affordable, quality training options to start your anesthesia tech career.
2 Year Anesthesia Technician Program
A 2-year associate’s degree in anesthesia technology provides enhanced training and can lead to higher-level career opportunities compared to a basic certificate program.
In an associate’s degree program, you will complete around 60 credits of coursework and clinical training.
Typical Courses Include:
- Advanced Anatomy and Physiology
- Medical Law/Ethics
- Anesthesia Equipment and Technology
- Basic and Advanced Principles of Anesthesia
- Patient Monitoring
- Emergency Response
- Healthcare Administration
- Clinical Practicum Rotations
- In addition to anesthesia-specific classes, you will take general education courses for well-rounded skills in communication, critical thinking, and problem solving.
The extended 2-year program goes more in-depth into anesthesia care for advanced practice. It opens up greater career advancement and leadership possibilities.
While the associate’s degree takes longer, it can be a worthwhile investment for maximum career potential and earnings.
Online Schools for Anesthesia Technician
While classroom theory can be learned online, anesthesia tech programs still require in-person clinical rotations to develop hands-on skills.
Some schools utilize a hybrid model with online coursework combined with on-campus skills labs and hospital rotations.
When researching online programs, be sure to ask:
- How many hours of in-person clinical training are required? This should be 500+ hours to gain proficiency.
- Which local healthcare settings are used for clinical rotations? Look for a robust network of hospital partners.
- Will online coursework transfer to a campus-based program if I relocate? Seek broad transferability.
- Does the program provide job placement assistance nationwide? Look for strong career support.
Reputable accredited online school options include:
Tulsa Community College
American National University
The right online program can provide a flexible alternative path to becoming an anesthesia tech but ensure sufficient in-person clinical training is included. Partner with an accredited school that sets their graduates up for certification and career success.
Can You Become an Anesthesia Technician Online?
It is possible to become an anesthesia technician through online education, but with caveats.
While theory and textbook knowledge can be learned online, anesthesia techs require extensive in-person clinical experience to competently assist anesthesiologists. Most programs blend online classes with 500+ hours of supervised on-site clinical rotations.
Be wary of any programs offering an anesthesia tech certificate wholly online with no in-person skills training. Hands-on practice is essential.
Look for an accredited hybrid program that thoughtfully integrates online coursework with a robust schedule of clinical rotations at hospital partners near where you live.
This flexible approach provides the technical knowledge and real-world experience to become fully prepared for a career as an anesthesia tech.
How to Become an Anesthesia Technician Online
Here are tips to become an anesthesia technician through online education:
- Complete prerequisite college science courses online if needed.
- Enroll in an accredited hybrid anesthesia technician program. Look for CAAHEP accreditation.
- Take online classes in anesthesia technology, pharmacology, physiology, patient care concepts.
- Complete at least 500+ hours of supervised clinical rotations on-site at hospitals.
- Prepare for and pass the ASATT national certification exam.
- Research state licensing requirements based on where you want to work.
- Leverage your school’s job assistance program to search for open positions nationwide.
High-quality hybrid programs integrate online learning with sufficient hands-on training under an anesthesiologist’s supervision to gain practical skills. They set you up for certification and career success as an anesthesia tech.
Becoming an anesthesia technician is a great way to launch a hands-on healthcare career with competitive pay and promising job growth. With proper accredited training, certification, and determination you can be well on your way to success in this essential allied health field.
Remember to enroll in a CAAHEP-accredited program, complete ample clinical rotations for real-world experience, and earn your national certification. This comprehensive guide outlined all the required steps and considerations to help you achieve your goal of becoming an anesthesia tech.
With demand for anesthesia services continuing to increase, there will be abundant openings for certified anesthesia techs nationwide. If you have an aptitude for working with medical technology and passion for helping provide safe anesthesia care, now is an ideal time to get started on this rewarding career path.