Anesthesia Technician Schools

A slug of whiskey was often the only pain relief a surgeon could offer before a patient went under the knife in the Wild West. While this may have been a simpler time, it was also a more painful one.

Today, surgeons and other healthcare professionals can offer many different types of anesthesia that are highly effective in numbing or dulling the pain of all types of surgery. An anesthesia technician (AT) with proper training can assist surgeons, anesthesiologists, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) with the delicate matter of administering these powerful drugs to patients in a safe way.

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 the American Society has approved of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians (ASATT), pursuing this career takes perseverance. Although an incoming AT may only require an associate of science (AS) degree, the hands-on experience gained during the practicum portion of the degree is essential to career success.

Once a student has completed their anesthesia technician training, the job market should be ready for them. Increasing demand with no signs of abating means working for a well-educated AT for many years to come.

Anesthesia Technician 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 will the need for specialized skills among them. This means that more and more positions require 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). To qualify for the anesthesia technologist certification, aspiring technicians must have completed an ASATT-approved program and pass the exam. The only certification currently offered by ASATT is the certified anesthesia technologist (Cer.A.T.T.) credential.

While not all positions require certification, graduating from an ASATT-approved program can be essential for career advancement and compensation. Some employers require that candidates hold this certification as a minimum qualification or earn it within two years of hire.

As of December 2021, only 14 ASATT-approved anesthesia tech schools offer degree and certificate programs that prepare anesthesia technicians to enter the workforce with relevant education. Five of the ASATT-approved programs listed here hold accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) by meaning successful completion of these programs makes graduates eligible for the Cer.A.T.T. exam. The Committee on Accreditation for Anesthesia Technology Education (CoA-ATE) keeps an updated list of all 14 ASATT-approved programs.

It’s important to note there are two types of ASATT-approved anesthesia tech schools: four CAAHEP-accredited programs and nine CoA-ATE letter of review (LoR) programs. The letter of review process is the first stage towards pursuing accreditation. Programs that hold CoA-ATE letter of review status must apply for CAAHEP accreditation within a year of their first graduating class.

City College: With locations in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Altamonte Springs, City College is the only institution to 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 anatomy, medical ethics, and pharmacology courses. Upon completion, students are eligible to sit for the anesthesia technologist certification exam.

  • Location: Miami, FL
  • Duration: Two years
  • Tuition: $14,539 per year
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP

College of DuPage: Located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, the anesthesia technology program at College of DuPage prepares students to work as patient care team members. Topics covered include fundamentals and advanced clinical procedures in anesthesia care.

Graduates are ready to work in clinical settings including operating rooms, diagnostic radiology, post-anesthesia care, intensive care units, dental clinics, and ambulatory surgery centers. This is the only CAAHEP-accredited program in Illinois and includes six credit hours of hands-on clinical training.

  • Location: Glen Ellyn, IL
  • Duration: Two years
  • Tuition: $138 per credit (residents); $325 per credit (non-residents)
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP

Milwaukee Area Technical College: The Milwaukee Area Technical College School of Health Sciences in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, offers an associate of applied science (AAS) 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 Cer.A.T.T. exam.

  • Location: Milwaukee, WI
  • Duration: Two years
  • Tuition: $476.40 for three credits (residents); $687.90 for three credits (non-residents)
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP

Pasadena City College: On the west coast, aspiring anesthesia technicians can study at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California. PCC offers a two-year program that culminates in a certificate of achievement and an associate of science degree.

Students at PCC will take courses such as anesthesia technology instrumentation and anesthesia pharmacology and participate in clinical experience and seminars demonstrating anesthesia care techniques. In addition, the Pasadena program is affiliated with Kaiser Permanente so that students can complete their clinical studies at Kaiser locations.

  • Location: Pasadena, CA
  • Duration: Two years
  • Tuition: $307 per unit
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP

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, meaning that graduates will earn general education credits that can be applied when transferring to a bachelor’s degree program, should they choose to do so.

Anesthesia-related coursework in the program includes terminology, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, EKG analysis, equipment, and general medical knowledge.

  • Location: Renton, WA
  • Duration: Two years
  • Tuition: #133.05 per credit (residents); $148.27 (non-residents)
  • Accreditation: ASATT

List of Anesthesia Technician Schools

Filter by state :
School City State Website grads (2018)
Case Western Reserve University Cleveland Ohio www.case.edu 60
Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale Florida www.nova.edu 60
Emory University Atlanta Georgia www.emory.edu 36
South University-Savannah Savannah Georgia www.southuniversity.edu 23
Renton Technical College Renton Washington www.rtc.edu 15
University of Missouri-Kansas City Kansas City Missouri www.umkc.edu 12
University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Denver Colorado www.ucdenver.edu 11
City College-Miami Miami Florida www.citycollege.edu 10
College of DuPage Glen Ellyn Illinois www.cod.edu 10
Milwaukee Area Technical College Milwaukee Wisconsin matc.edu 5
Quinnipiac University Hamden Connecticut www.qu.edu 5
Wayne County Community College District Detroit Michigan www.wcccd.edu 5
City College-Altamonte Springs Altamonte Springs Florida www.citycollege.edu 4
Community College of Allegheny County Pittsburgh Pennsylvania www.ccac.edu 4
Community College of Baltimore County Baltimore Maryland www.ccbcmd.edu 4
City College-Fort Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale Florida www.citycollege.edu 2
2017-2018 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in November, 2019)

Hybrid & Online Programs

Although becoming an anesthesia technician can be a great way to start an entirely new career, many ATs begin in other medical and allied healthcare fields. Therefore, an online or hybrid option may be the best choice for these students, especially if they wish to continue working while pursuing their AT education.

It should be noted that even for those programs that offer online courses, there is always a clinical component that students must complete in person. Online programs may help students find a local hospital or clinic in which to complete their practicum.

Further, there are currently no online programs that the ASATT has approved. This means that while completing an online anesthesia technician program can be a great way to learn more and advance their careers, it will not make graduates eligible to sit for the ASATT certification exam.

Anesthesia Technician Core & Elective Courses

Although every program for anesthesia technicians will differ somewhat, some core courses are standard across the board. Because many matriculating students may not be experienced in the medical field, there are often courses offered in medical terminology and introductory courses to the area of anesthesia technology itself.

Further, methods in the specific technology and equipment used by a working AT are standard. Because anesthesiologists and nurse anesthetists work so consistently with powerful medications, courses in anesthesia pharmacology are standardized across AT programs.

The vast majority of AT 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 broadest aspects of the profession. 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.

Anesthesia Technician Accreditation

A few professional organizations offer programmatic accreditation for anesthesia technicians, meaning the program has been evaluated against specific standards for curriculum, faculty, and learning outcomes. 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 suitable by that particular organization.

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) provides accreditation to programs on an institution-wide and programmatic basis. 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.

It is important to recognize that ASATT approves programs in the initial stage of accreditation by CAAHEP, also known as letter of review (LoR) programs. Completing an ASATT-approved program allows graduates to sit for the Anesthesia Technologist exam offered by ASATT.

In addition to CAAHEP accreditation and ASATT-approval, schools and programs may be accredited by any number of higher education accreditation bodies. For instance, the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) offers accreditation to schools that provide 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, accreditation organizations are not specific to health education or health care but instead offer institutional accreditation for an entire school. For instance, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is a regional accrediting body that provides accreditation to "degree-granting institutions which offer one or more post-secondary educational programs, including those offered via distance education.”

Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not explicitly 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 9 percent between 2020 and 2030, which is slightly faster than the national average (BLS 2021).

According to the ASATT, the specific demand for anesthesia technologists is also increasing. One of the primary reasons for the increased demand and 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 will continue to be strained in the healthcare industry. As a result, anesthesia technicians, who can work in pain management, surgery, and other clinical environments, will be in demand.

Surgical technologists earn annual average salaries of $56,310 (BLS May 2020). In the coming decade, 9,500 new positions are expected to be added to the 109,700 currently employed surgical technologists. The top employing industries for surgical technologists are:

  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals: 76,770 surgical techs employed
  • Offices of Physicians: 11,140
  • Outpatient Care Centers: 10,860
  • Offices of Dentists: 2,980
  • Specialty Hospitals: 1,860
Career Facts Anesthesia 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 Dec. 2021

Licensing & Certification of Anesthesia Techs

Anesthesia technicians can become certified by sitting for an exam administered by the American Society of Anesthesia Technologists & Technicians (ASATT). As of 2021, the ASATT offers the certified anesthesia technologist (Cer.A.T.T) credential. Although the exam is 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 several locations outside of the country as well. The handbook for the technologist test is 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. State licensing requirements for anesthesia technicians vary by state, and anesthesia technicians are encouraged to research state licensure requirements for where they plan to work or reside.

Cer.A.T.T. certification holders must earn 30 continuing education requirements (CEUs) during the two-year certification period. Certification expires on December 31 every two years. Those who let their certification lapse can pursue three methods for recertification, including a refresher program, an advancement program, and a professional recertification program.

Rachel Drummond
Rachel Drummond Writer

Rachel Drummond is a freelance writer, educator, and yogini from Oregon. She’s taught English to international university students in the United States and Japan for more than a decade and has a master’s degree in education from the University of Oregon. A dedicated Ashtanga yoga practitioner, Rachel is interested in exploring the nuanced philosophical aspects of contemplative physical practices and how they apply in daily life. She writes about this topic among others on her blog (Instagram: @racheldrummondyoga).