Anesthesia Technician Schools

In the Wild West, a slug of whiskey was often the only pain relief a surgeon could offer. While this may have a been a simpler time, it was also a more painful one. Today, surgeons and other healthcare professionals are able to offer many different types of anesthesia that are extremely effective in numbing or dulling the pain of major surgery. An anesthesia technician (AT) with proper training is able to assist surgeons, anesthesiologists, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) with the delicate matter of administering these powerful drugs to patients in a way that is safe.

 

In order to work alongside doctors in the operating room, anesthesia technicians must dedicate themselves to proper training. With only a few anesthesia tech schools around the country that have been approved by the American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians, undertaking this career takes perseverance. Although an incoming AT may only require an Associate of Science Degree, it is the hands on experience gained during the practicum portion of the degree that is essential to career success.

 

Once a student has completed his or her anesthesia technician training, the job market should be ready for them. Increasing demand with no signs of abating means that there will be work for a well-educated AT for many years to come.

Degree & certification Programs

According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), the preferred level of education for an entry level position as an anesthesia technician is a high school diploma or a GED. That being said, the ASA also notes that as the demand for anesthesia technicians grows, so does the demand for specialized skills among them. This means that more and more positions are requiring a two-year degree for incoming anesthesia technicians. These positions may even require official certification from the American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians (ASATT). In order to qualify for this certification, aspiring technicians must have either a two-year degree or at least two years of equivalent work experience as an anesthesia technician. While not all positions require certification, it can be important for career advancement as well as compensation. It is important to note that as of July 15, 2015 the certification for anesthesia technician will be retired and only anesthesia technologist certifications will be granted. In order to qualify for the anesthesia technologist exam after that time, students will need to have completed at minimum a two-year dedicated program.

As of 2014, there are a few anesthesia tech schools that offer degree and certificate programs that prepare anesthesia technicians to enter the workforce with relevant education. Each of the programs listed here have met approval with the ASATT.

  • City College: With locations in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Altamonte Springs, City College is the only institution where students can obtain an ASATT-approved education in anesthesia technology in Florida. The program, which spans two years and culminates in an Associate of Science degree in Anesthesia Technology, includes courses in anatomy, medical ethics, and pharmacology. Upon completion, students are eligible to sit for either the Anesthesia Technician certification exam or the Anesthesia Technologist certification exam.

  • Milwaukee Area Technical College: The Milwaukee Area Technical College School of Health Sciences offers an Associate of Science degree in Anesthesia Technology. Applicants to the program must have completed at least one year of high school level biology, chemistry, and algebra to be eligible for this program. Students at MATC complete classroom-based courses in theoretical concepts as well as clinical rotations. Upon completion of the program, students are eligible for the Certified Anesthesia Technician exam.

  • Pasadena City College: On the west coast, aspiring anesthesia technicians can study at Pasadena City College. PCC offers a two-year program that culminates in a Certificate of Achievement as well as a Associate of Science degree. Students at PCC will take courses such as Anesthesia Technology Instrumentation and Anesthesia Pharmacology, as well as participate in clinical experience and seminars demonstrating anesthesia care techniques. The Pasadena program is affiliated with Kaiser Permanente, so students are able to complete their clinical studies at Kaiser locations.

  • Renton Technical College: At Renton Technical College, in Renton, Washington, students can enroll in an anesthesia technologist program that culminates in an AAS-T degree. Anesthesia-related coursework in the program includes terminology, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, EKG analysis, equipment, and general medical knowledge.

List of Anesthesia Technician Schools

Filter by state :
SchoolCityStateWebsiteTotal grads (2013)
Case Western Reserve UniversityClevelandOhiohttp://www.case.edu39
Emory UniversityAtlantaGeorgiahttp://www.emory.edu/home/index.html 38
Renton Technical CollegeRentonWashingtonhttp://www.rtc.edu26
Sanford-Brown Institute-PittsburghPittsburghPennsylvaniahttp://www.sanfordbrown.edu/pittsburgh 25
South University-SavannahSavannahGeorgiahttps://www.southuniversity.edu/ 21
Sanford-Brown College-St PetersSaint PetersMissourihttp://www.sanfordbrown.edu/st-peters 10
University of Missouri-Kansas CityKansas CityMissourihttp://www.umkc.edu/9
Milwaukee Area Technical CollegeMilwaukeeWisconsinhttp://www.matc.edu/ 6
Stony Brook UniversityStony BrookNew Yorkhttp://www.stonybrook.edu5
Sanford-Brown College-HoustonHoustonTexashttp://www.sanfordbrown.edu/houston1
City College-Fort LauderdaleFort LauderdaleFloridahttp://www.citycollege.edu1
2013 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in January, 2015)

Hybrid & online programs

Although becoming an anesthesia technician can be a great way to start an entirely new career, many ATs begin in other fields of medicine and allied healthcare. For these students, especially if they wish to continue working while pursuing their AT education, an online or hybrid option may be the best choice. It should be noted that even for those programs that offer online courses, there is always a clinical component that much be completed in person. Online programs may be able to help students find a local hospital or clinic in which to complete their practicum.

Further, there are currently no online programs that have been approved by the ASATT. This means that while completing an online anesthesia technician program can be a great way to advance your career, it will not make you eligible to sit for an ASATT certification exam, unless you have requisite work experience.

  • Carolinas HealthCare System: The online anesthesia technician program offered by the Carolinas HealthCare System is different from the other programs mentioned earlier in this article because it is not offered by a college or university. This program is designed specifically for medical professionals wishing to expand their skills to include anesthesia technology and culminates in a certificate of completion, but not a degree. Applicants must meet specific education and work experience requirements in order to be admitted to this 36-week program.

Core & Elective Courses

Although every program for Anesthesia Technicians will differ somewhat, there are some core courses that are common across the board. Because many matriculating students may not be experienced in the medical field, there are often courses offered in medical terminology as well as introductory courses to the field of anesthesia technology itself. Further, courses in the specific technology and equipment used by a working AT are quite common. Because Anesthesiologists and Nurse Anesthetists work so consistently with very powerful medications, courses in Anesthesia Pharmacology are essential and offered during the course of every AT program.

The vast majority of Anesthesia Technician programs last just two years, with some lasting only a single year. These short programs leave very little time for electives in the curriculum, since coursework needs to be focused on the most practical and broad aspects of the profession. Instead, aspiring ATs are introduced to different types of work environments, and then have the opportunity to experience specialized clinical settings during their externships. Common specializations include emergency, intensive care, and outpatient surgery.

Accreditation

Anesthesia technician programs may be accredited by a few different professional organizations. Finding an accredited program is not a guarantee of job opportunities or education, but it is an indication that the program has been evaluated by professionals in the field and deemed a suitable program by that particular organization. One such organization in this particular field is the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). The CAAHEP provides accreditation to programs on both an institution-wide and programmatic basis, meaning that an entire school could have their accreditation, or the Anesthesia Technician program (or another allied health education program) could earn accreditation separate from the rest of the school. The accreditation process for CAAHEP consists of an application, a self-study, and an on-site review from experts in the particular field or department.

In addition to, or in place of, CAAHEP accreditation, schools and programs may be accredited by any number of higher education accreditation bodies. For instance, the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) specifically offers accreditation to school that offer many types of health education. The ABHES is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The accreditation manual for the ABHES is available on their website.

Finally, there are accreditation organizations that are not specific to health education or health care. For instance, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is a regional accrediting body that offers accreditation to "degree-granting institutions which offer one or more postsecondary educational programs, including those offered via distance education".   

The ASATT has a school program approval process, but does not offer official accreditation.

Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not specifically track the demand for Anesthesia Technicians. However, statistics for Surgical Technologists, who require similar educational backgrounds and work in similar clinical environments, are promising. Demand for Surgical Technologists is expected to grow at a rate of 30% through 2022, which is much faster than average (BLS, 2012).

According to the ASATT, specific demand for Anesthesia Technologists is also increasing. One of the major reasons for the increased demand, as well as the growth of the healthcare industry overall, is the rising age of the U.S. population. As more baby boomers retire and begin to require more medical attention, resources are going to continue to be strained in the healthcare industry. Anesthesia Technicians, who are able to work in pain management, surgery, and other clinical environments, will be particularly in demand.

Career FactsAnesthesia Technician
Related CareersSurgical Technologist, Radiation Therapist, Endoscopy Technician, Diagnostic Medical Sonographer, Nuclear Medicine Technologist
Common Job TitlesAnesthesia Technician, Anesthesia Technologist, Anaesthetic Technician
Technology & EquipmentAnesthetic Machine, IV Therapy Administration Equipment, Anesthetic Monitoring Equipment (EKG, EEG, Blood Pressure), Endotracheal Tube, Laryngeal Mask
Sourced from BLS, January 2015

Licensing & Certification

Anesthesia Technicians can become certified by sitting for an exam administered by the ASATT. As of 2014, the ASATT offers both Anesthesia Technician and Anesthesia Technologist certifications, with the Anesthesia Technologist certification requiring more knowledge and a higher level of education. However, in 2015 the Anesthesia Technician Certification will be phased out in favor of the more robust certification. Although the exams are computer-based, in order to complete an ASATT test, technicians must visit a physical testing facility. There are more than 100 facilities around the U.S. and a number of locations outside of the country as well. The handbook for both the Technician and Technologist tests are available on the ASATT website. There is no oral or practicum part of the certification exam.

ASATT certification is currently the only professional certification available to Anesthesia Technicians. This certification can be beneficial in the job market as some hospitals and clinics require it. However, the certification is not required by any state or local governments. In fact, there are currently no state licensing requirements for Anesthesia Technicians.

Barry Franklin
Barry Franklin Editor

Barry is the Editor-in-Chief of MedicalTechnologySchools.com, operated by educational web publisher Sechel Ventures Partners LLC, which he co-founded. Previously, Barry served as a VP at a Silicon Valley software company. In addition to running editorial operations at Sechel, Barry also serves on the Board of Trustees at a local K-8 school, and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University, where he also met his wife.