Best Jobs in America: Nurse Anesthetist

by Howard Gerber on December 13, 2012

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Best Jobs in America: Nurse Anesthetist









MSNBC recently posted the results of their annual report of The Best and Worst Jobs in America.  Nurse anesthetist (CRNA) came in at number 15, a respectable position considering the number of jobs that were considered (7000). But what makes nurse anesthetist better than, say, ICU nurse or surgical nurse?


MSNBC uses a metric that considers a number of factors to determine rank:

  • Highest paid salary
  • Highest median salary
  • Most flexibility
  • Most satisfaction
  • Benefit to society
  • Highest job growth
  • Lowest stress
  • Most security
  • Future growth

The top spot was taken by a work-from-home Internet position that requires little skill and offers little stress…but pays a lot. Following the easy money job are intellectual and technical jobs, like mathematician, actuary, statistician, and IT project manager. Below that, several medical specialties are included: physical therapist, anesthesiologist, pharmacist, physician, OB/GYN, psychologist, psychiatrist, and ER doctor. The job with the highest level of satisfaction is general physician, and anesthesiologists take home the biggest paychecks, averaging $292k with a top-out of $408k. Sweet!

How nurse anesthetists ranked

Nurse anesthetists ranked highest for benefit to society, but many other factors make this job an excellent choice. According to, CRNA’s pay ranges between $77,243 and $171,448 and might include a bonus and have profit sharing options that raise the top pay to $186,621. CRNAs can expect 4-5 weeks vacation time and a very rewarding career.


Projected job growth for this profession is tremendous. CRNAs are in demand and there’s a shortage. For employers, hiring nurse anesthetists is a win-win situation. Anesthesiologists garner more than twice the salary…and it costs far more to earn a degree in anesthesiology.

What education is necessary to become a nurse anesthetist?

The first step is to become a critical care nurse and get in a year of practical experience. This means a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing or another appropriate science. Next, you’ll need to complete an accredited nurse anesthesia program and pass the certification exam.

The bottom line is that putting in a couple of extra years of schooling makes your salary comparable to a physician salary…at least triples—that’s right, triples—that of an average nurse. And you’ll be earning that hefty paycheck in one of the best jobs in the country. It’s a good way to go.



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