What is an Anesthesiologist

Anesthesiologists are physicians who administer anesthetics (drugs that cause anesthesia, or a reversible loss of sensation) to patients prior to, during, and following surgery and other medical procedures. In the UK, this is known as an anesthetist, though in the United States anesthetists are anesthesia providers without the qualifications of a physician.

Where do Anesthesiologists Work

The typical work environment for anesthesiologists is in a hospital or outpatient clinic. Some may also work in physicians’ offices, particularly in a group practice with other physicians. Anesthesiologists will meet with a patient just prior to surgery to inform them of what will take place, and remain in the surgery the entire time, monitoring and providing support for the patient.

These work environments are clean and sterile, however the work can be demanding. This is a dual issue in that the anesthesiologist must constantly monitor a patient through a long procedure, while also not taking part in the more mentally challenging aspects of the surgery.

Work Schedule

Anesthesiologists typically work full-time, and often far beyond the normal forty-hour work week. Indeed, it is not uncommon for them to exceed 60 hours, and in extreme cases can reach 80 hours. They will be on call often, and at all hours of the day, as theirs is a skill vital for a good surgery.

How Much Does an Anesthesiologist Make

The average annual anesthesiologist salary is $235,070. The mean salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and divid that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $130,620 while the top 10% makes well over $315,000.

Anesthesiologist Salary: Quick Summary

2013 Mean Salary$235,070 per year
$113.01 per hour
Top 10% Salary$315,000 per year
$151.44 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$130,620 per year
$62.80 per hour
Number of Jobs, 201330,200

Anesthesiologist Job Outlook and Prospects

The job outlook for anesthesiologists is excellent, with an expected 18 percent job growth in the coming years. This is due to the expected job growth in all health care industries; with a greater number of surgeons performing surgeries, there will be a greater need for anesthesiologists. Further this, the aging population of the country will bring a greater demand for their skills both in and out of surgery; numbing sensation for minor procedures will bring a greater need for anesthesiologist expertise, and the rise in surgeries overall caused by an aging population will bring more demand for anesthetization.

Influences on an Anesthesiologist’s Salary

Anesthesiologists in the United States make around $235,070 per year, with wages spanning from $130,620 among the lowest-paid 10 percent, to more than $270,000 for the highest-paid 10 percent. These salaries are affected by the industry worked, as well as the experience of the anesthesiologist. Geographic location also plays a large role, as does specialization. Position and education are only minor considerations when it comes to anesthesiologist salary.

Education and Specialization 

The education required to become an anesthesiologist in the United States is similar to many other doctoral careers, including a bachelors degree followed by a medical degree, followed by a residency lasting three to five years. Following the residency, many anesthesiologists have a fellowship with subspecialty training.

Those who pursue more prestigious fellowships, or study at universities with higher renown, will see minor increases in anesthesiologist salary.

Potential areas of subspecialty include pain management, cardiothoracic anesthesiology, neuro anesthesiology, and regional or ambulatory anesthesiology. Having a skill in these, or some of the other many areas for subspecialization, brings requisite salary gains, as there is a higher demand for these skills than there is a supply.

Experience and Position 

Experience is a major factor in determining the starting wage of an anesthesiologist. A new graduate may have a salary in the low-$100,000 range (some even lower), while one who has been working for ten or more years will receive a salary much closer to the average of $232,830.

Many anesthesiologists are engaged in a private practice, meaning there is little room for advancement. Those in a hospital or clinic, however, can be promoted, depending on the size of the organization and the number of anesthesiologists there employed.


The type of industry can have a major impact on the anesthesiologist salary, with potential differences of up to $100,000. Working for colleges, universities, and professional schools, for example, has an average wage of $131,890, while working in an outpatient care center brings $225,360. Specialty hospitals pay even better, at $229,400, and working in the offices of physicians has the highest salary, at $241,910. 


The location where an anesthesiologist works is another significant factor in determining their income, with salaries ranging from $76,990 (Puerto Rico) to more than $249,200 (Michigan). The Bureau of Labor and Statistics doesn’t offer the specific numbers for the highest-paying states, but lists them, in descending order, as Wyoming, Tennessee, Oregon, Oklahoma, and North Carolina. That Michigan isn’t in the top five indicates that these all offer wages well above the $249,200 of Michigan.

The BLS similar doesn’t show the numbers for the highest-paying metropolitan areas, however the highest with data is $251,290, in Montgomery, AL; again, it is not in the top ten list of highest paying metropolitan areas, of which Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT is in the first position. If an anesthesiologist decides to work in a rural area, the pay and benefits can be significantly higher due to the shortage and need for this kind of specialty. The average rural specialist can earning up to $425,000. This is usually associated with rural development grants and other efforts to entice enterprise to the area.