Nurse Anesthetist Salary Information
One of the most lucrative aspects to becoming a CRNA is the high earning potential. While there are many important factors to consider when choosing a career path, the potential future earnings in a chosen field often play a large role in influencing the decision. Choosing to become a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist is a big commitment of both time and finances. It is important to research all factors of a future career choice including working conditions, potential job-related stresses, what kind of schooling is needed, and what character traits you should possess. Once you have done your research, however, and decided that becoming a CRNA is the right career move for you, it is good to know that at the end of the journey all of your hard work will likely be rewarded with a competitive CRNA salary.
The Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist salary statistics in this article are based on various data sources and are a compilation of the averages reported through research and data gathering. These salary figures should not be the sole means of calculating your potential future CRNA salary as this can vary widely from state to state and from facility to facility, but they do provide a good general overview of the earning potential of an average CRNA.
CRNA Average Salary
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the projected median national salary for a CRNA in 2014-15 is $148,160. The mean annual nurse anesthetist salary as reported in May of 2013 was $157,690. CRNA starting salaries can vary widely, but tend to be closer to $100,000-$120,000. These salary ranges are all for full-time certified registered nurse anesthetists. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics also reported that the top paying locations for CRNAs were specialty hospitals with an average salary of $174,850, and offices of dentists, with an average salary of $179,570. The most common places of employment for CRNAs were physicians’ offices or general medical or surgical hospitals.
CRNA Salary by State or Geographic Location
The CRNA average salary varies widely depending on the geographic location where the CRNA practices. The highest concentration of practicing CRNAs is generally on the east coast, with less CRNAs practicing in the West and Southwest (with the exception of Texas). The specific states with the highest employment of practicing CRNAs are Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, and Ohio. Mean wages vary amongst these states from $135,910 in Florida to $162,090 in Texas.
The average salaries in various states are calculated by combining both metropolitan and rurally based CRNA salary data. CRNAs in some metropolitan locations have higher salaries. Some of the highest paying metropolitan locations include Las Vegas, NV with a mean CRNA salary of $238,350 and Miami, Florida with a mean salary of $203,540. As with any profession, supply and demand highly affect the pay rates of CRNAs.
CRNAs as Independent Contractors
As the need for anesthesia services grows and the working population of anesthesiologists shrinks, CRNAs working as independent contractors have begun moving in to fill in the gap. Working as an independent contractor has its benefits as well as its drawbacks. A CRNA who works independently has more control over his or her work schedule and what types of environments he or she practices in. An independent contractor generally has more flexibility and professional autonomy than a regular employee.
While work as an independent contractor seems ideal, it is important to keep in mind that, as a non-employee, you would not be entitled to many benefits that employees receive. This includes things such as workers compensation, health insurance, malpractice insurance, and the benefit of having an employer withhold payroll taxes. If you keep in mind that there may be additional costs to working as an independent contractor, you can make a good living practicing in this way. It is difficult to gather data about the per hour rate for independent contractor CRNAs, however the Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the average hourly wage of a full-time CRNA as $75.81. Anecdotally, it appears that many independent contractor CRNA jobs have listings for pay of $90-$110 per hour. This will, of course, vary based upon the employer, the CRNA’s individual qualifications, and the geographic location of the work.
Temporary CRNA Work – Locum Tenens
Yet another way for CRNAs to find employment is by doing temporary work, also known as Locum Tenens. Locum tenens means “to hold the place of” and is a term generally used to refer to healthcare workers who are hired on a temporary basis. Locum tenens assignments can range anywhere from several days or weeks, to several months. Locum tenens CRNAs are hired for a variety of different reasons. They can be used to supplement permanent staff during busy times or to offer more staffing flexibility for healthcare facilities. They can be used to fill a temporary staffing vacancy caused by an illness, leave of absence, vacation, or maternity leave. They can also be used as a means of cost-savings where a full-time CRNA may not be necessary, but occasional or temporary CRNA work is needed.
Working on a locum tenens basis is not for everyone. Many CRNAs need the steady income and more dependable schedule that comes from being employed full-time. For those who do enter locum tenens positions, however, there can be many benefits. Working locum tenens may help someone who is in between full-time employment or in the process of looking for a full-time job fill in the income gap. It can also be a good way for a CRNA to try out working in different types of practices or different anesthesia care specialties before settling into a particular niche. There are many recruiters and agencies that specialize in finding candidates to fill locum tenens positions around the country. One such agency is LocumTenens.com which reports the average income for an 8 hour day of work as a locum tenens CRNA as $720-$880.
CRNA, RN, and Anesthesiologist Salaries
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a large difference between the salary of RNs and the salary of CRNAs. As mentioned above, the mean annual wage for a CRNA in May of 2013 was $157,690. During the same time period, the mean annual wage for an RN was $68,910.
In contrast to both RNs and CRNAs, the mean annual wage of an anesthesiologist was reported as $235,070. The high wages expected by anesthesiologists are part of the reason the demand for CRNAs has been increasing. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, there is a 0% difference in safety between anesthesia provided by an anesthesiologist and anesthesia provided by a CRNA. CRNAs earn a very good salary, but make less than anesthesiologists and are thus often becoming a more attractive hire than an anesthesiologist. The AANA reports that having one anesthesiologist directing one CRNA is 110% more expensive for a healthcare facility than having a CRNA as the sole anesthesia provider. These statistics bode well for the future salary of CRNAs and the value of the services they provide.
As a CRNA, you will likely be required to have malpractice insurance coverage. This is an important factor to consider when looking at future salary as it can be included in the salary or it may be an extra cost that comes out of your pocket.
Malpractice insurance is a type of liability insurance purchased by most working healthcare professionals. This type of insurance is designed to protect you financially in the event that you are sued for medical malpractice. The definition of malpractice is “improper, illegal, or negligent professional activity.” Malpractice suits usually occur after a patient has received care and experienced a problematic or negative outcome. Even if the care provided was legal and not negligent, the best and most highly trained professionals can occasionally make mistakes. It is important for you to be covered financially in the event of a potential lawsuit. Having medical malpractice insurance will help cover the costs of legal fees and other expenses.
Medical facilities (usually larger hospitals or medical centers) will often provide medical malpractice insurance for their employees under a group policy. Some facilities may simply figure the cost of providing insurance into the proposed CRNA salary at the outset, while others may deduct the amount needed to cover malpractice insurance from each paycheck. If your employer offers a group policy it is important to remember that, if you change jobs or practice anywhere other than that particular location, the malpractice insurance may not cover you.
If the employer does not cover malpractice insurance, the CRNA will have to purchase it individually. When looking to purchase insurance individually, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists suggests that a CRNA compare the particulars of each policy by asking the following questions:
- What type of malpractice insurance coverage is offered?
- What are the limits of liability?
- Are there coverage extensions and limitations?
- Is the insurance company financial stable?
- Is the insurance agent experienced in working with healthcare professionals?
The ins and outs of malpractice insurance are complicated, but it is important to be aware before starting your CRNA career that malpractice insurance, either as a personal or group policy, will be a part of your working life.
Job Outlook – The Future of CRNAs
The future job outlook for CRNAs is showing a very positive trend. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupation Outlook Handbook predicts 31% expected job growth for Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners from 2012-2022. As a whole, the average age of the population of the United States is increasing and with that increase in age comes an increase in demand for a wide range of healthcare services. The need for more surgeries and procedures produces a need for more qualified CRNAs to administer anesthetics. Looking towards the future, medical facilities will need to start making more cost-effective staffing choices to help keep their costs as low as possible. The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists reports that based on recent studies, CRNAs are proving to be the most cost-effective solution for healthcare facilities looking to provide high-quality anesthesia services.
With the current outlook for job growth and the increased need for CRNA services, it seems there has never been a better time to enter the career field as a CRNA. As demand for CRNA services increases, medical facilities may need to improve the already competitive Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist salary offers as they seek to fill these crucial positions with qualified and competent employees. A career as a CRNA can provide the highly sought-after benefits of job security as well as financial security.