how long does it take to become an anesthesiologist

How Long Does It Take To Become An Anesthesiologist? [Overview and Breakdown]

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How long does it take to become an anesthesiologist? In this article, I’ll be answering that and other important questions that you might want to know about this field.

I hope this will get to inspire you more in your desired specialization.

how long does it take to be an anesthesiologist

Is It Hard To Be An Anesthesiologist?

According to some anesthesiologists, their journey to reach where they are right now was hard. Though, of course, there is no easy way to attain any specialty. But the level of difficulty varies per person.

The path is almost the same with any specialization. You need to finish your four years in medical school and pass every written, oral, and practical exam to earn a license and certification to practice.

When you become an anesthesiologist, you must be psychologically prepared for any case as you would be making life and death decisions. It is your responsibility to make the patients unconscious, block any pain sensation, and make sure that they will be back again to their pre-anesthesia state without any complications at the end of the procedure.

You need to be ready for 24-hour shifts and spending your holidays and weekends in the hospital.

How Many Years Does It Take To Become An Anesthesiologist?

Typically, it takes 12 to 14 years to become a licensed anesthesiologist.

  • College: 4 years. You need to finish your 4-year undergraduate course or your pre-med. Your pre-med should ideally prepare you for your med school journey (that’s why it is called pre-med). Taking science courses such as biology and physics would give you an advantage in acing the MCAT. Don’t know what course you’ll choose? Here is an article on choosing the best pre-med course.
  • Med school: 4 years. This is the long four years you need to study the foundations of medicine and acquire the skills of patient care.
  • Internship: 1 year. A medical internship usually lasts for a year. Once the student finishes and passes USMLE Step 3, they could finally practice as a general practitioner.
  • Residency: 3 years. When you have already become a resident doctor, you are technically licensed to practice yet still under training. Clinical anesthesia must be studied for three years. One year of training must be devoted to clinical base, which should provide the resident with a year of strong clinical foundations in medical disciplines, with no more than one month dedicated to anesthesia administration.
  • Fellowship: 1 year. After completing an anesthesiology residency program, subspecialty/fellowship training is available in anesthesiology critical care medicine, pain management, and pediatric anesthesiology.

how long does it take to be an anesthesiologist

Is It Worth It To Become An Anesthesiologist?

This really depends on what you value.

Being an anesthesiologist is not easy because you could be working long hours alongside the surgeon. Despite the rigors of the job, anesthesiologists usually don’t get recognition from the patients that they help. This is because they don’t really need to interact with the patients as with the other specialties. But all the hard work pays off with the idea that you play a big part in saving a patient’s life.

Another rewarding thing about being an anesthesiologist is the high salary.

What Is The Average Anesthesiologist Salary?

Anesthesiologists are some of the highest-paid medical doctors with a national average annual wage of $261,739 according to the 2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Being an anesthesiologist is challenging and complicated. You make the patients unconscious and become accountable for waking them up with optimal functioning. You need to administer drugs that affect the nervous system. A little mistake could put the patient’s life in danger. It is definitely one of the riskiest fields.

It might be obvious why anesthesiologists are highly paid. It’s because it takes too long to specialize in it and there is a high demand for this specialized field.

how long does it take to be an anesthesiologist

FAQs On An Anesthesiologist’s Length Of Education And Training

Here are other frequently asked questions about being an anesthesiologist.

Can You Become An Anesthesiologist In Less Than 12 Years?

No, you cannot. The minimum amount of time needed is 12 years.

How Stressful Is Being An Anesthesiologist?

Anesthesiology is one of the most stressful medical specialties. During surgery, anesthesiologists have a lot of responsibilities, and they may have to deal with stressful situations like unforeseen difficult airways, cardiac arrest, and other life-threatening emergencies.

A study showed that 91% of the anesthesiologists claimed that they experience moderate to extreme work-related stress. Their sources of stress are working for more than 8 hours, handling high-risk patients, working on weekends, and carrying work back home.

How Long Does An Anesthesiologist Work A Day?

Anesthesiologists do not work less than 8 hours a day. They need to endure long shifts that could even last for 24 hours.

A typical clinical day for an anesthesiologist in private practice is 10 to 12 hours long, with overnight calls two or more nights per month.

The average number of hours worked per week varies depending on the group and its call structure. But it is usually between 40 and 60 hours per week, including calls.

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Do Anesthesiologists Have Free Time?

Based on a Medscape survey, anesthesiologists have more vacation time than the average American. Almost half of them take more than four weeks off, and only 13% take 1-2 weeks off, putting them at the top of the list of specialists who took time off.


I hope I enlightened you about what it takes to be an anesthesiologist. It is a pretty long journey, but I’m sure it would be worth it. You would get to enjoy a high salary while spending most of your days doing the job that you love.

It’s hard, but always remember that nothing comes easy. So, it’s up to you which path is worth all the hardships. In case you would also like to explore other specialties, you may check out my YouTube video on how to become a cardiologist.

FYI. If you’re on your pre-med journey and you would like for me to basically tell you what I would have done if I was in your shoes, then go ahead and check out The Pre-med Journey, which is a book that I wrote when I was in medical school.

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You can find that book on Amazon for just 99 cents. So if you’re trying to increase your chances of getting into medical school, check it out!

Whenever you’re ready, there are 4 ways I can help you:

1. The Med School Handbook:  Join thousands of other students who have taken advantage of the hundreds of FREE tips & strategies I wish I were given on the first day of medical school to crush it with less stress. 

2. The Med School BlueprintJoin the hundreds of students who have used our A-Z blueprint and playbook for EVERY phase of the medical journey so you can start to see grades like these. 

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Thank you so much for making it to the end!

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