Anesthesia Technician & Technologist Schools

“A successful anesthesia technician or technologist adopts a routine that ensures efficiency and focus. Mentally preparing for the most challenging scenarios is a strategy I employ to stay prepared; this way, even if a day turns out to be less stressful than anticipated, it feels exceptionally rewarding rather than being caught off guard by unexpected challenges.”

Greg Farmer, Cer.A.T., President-elect of the American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians (ASATT)

In the Wild West, a swig of whiskey was frequently the sole form of pain relief available from a surgeon before undergoing surgery. Although this era may be remembered for its simplicity, it was undoubtedly painful for patients.

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 technologist (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.

Anesthesia technologists must dedicate themselves to proper training to work alongside doctors in the operating room. Anesthesia technologist programs are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Programs (CAAHEP) via its Committee on Accreditation for Anesthesia Technology Education (CoA-ATE). Although an incoming AT may only require an associate degree, the hands-on experience gained during the practicum portion of the degree is essential to career success. All accredited programs provide clinical practicums as a requirement for graduation so by having the degree conferred they completed the coursework.

Upon completing their rigorous training, anesthesia technologists step into a world brimming with opportunities. Individuals armed with comprehensive anesthesia technician training are not just entering the job market; they’re stepping into an arena where their specialized skills are in high demand. For those well-educated in the field, this scenario promises not just employment, but a steady and rewarding career path that could span decades. With the right qualifications and a commitment to continuous learning, ATs can look forward to contributing significantly to healthcare teams, improving patient care, and enjoying job security in a field that values their expertise highly.

Meet the Expert: Greg Farmer, Cer.A.T.

Greg Farmer

Greg Farmer is the president-elect of the American Society of Anesthesia Technologists and Technicians (ASATT) and a highly experienced certified anesthesia technician at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.

Since becoming a certified anesthesia technician in 2005, Farmer has built a robust career in anesthesia technology, serving as interim program director at Tarrant County College and as lead certified anesthesia technician at Cook Children’s Health Care System in Fort Worth, Texas.

His involvement with ASATT began in 2015, and he served as president from 2018 to 2021. During his historic term, he led with vision and collaboration alongside the Board of Directors to enhance ASATT for its members, launching the first educational webinar, hosting the first virtual Education Conference, and introducing numerous initiatives to better serve the community. He is dedicated to leading ASATT in a transformative direction to further elevate the profession.

Additionally, Farmer has been program director, clinical coordinator, and lead instructor for a local anesthesia technology program, where he developed curriculum, authored content, and attained accreditation. His leadership roles and commitment to advancing the field underscore his dedication to excellence and professional development in anesthesia technology.

MedicalTechnologySchools.com: What is something people don’t know about being an anesthesia technician?

Farmer: Certified anesthesia technicians and technologists shoulder significant responsibilities. They are responsible for maintaining and troubleshooting anesthesia machines and equipment and assisting with various lines such as IVs, arterial lines, and central lines. They may also operate complex equipment like cell savers and balloon pumps, depending on what healthcare providers and facilities permit.

To succeed in this role, one needs excellent organizational skills and effective planning abilities to manage the myriad tasks expected daily. A successful anesthesia technician or technologist adopts a routine that ensures efficiency and focus. Mentally preparing for the most challenging scenarios is a strategy I employ to stay prepared; this way, even if a day turns out to be less stressful than anticipated, it feels exceptionally rewarding rather than being caught off guard by unexpected challenges.

MedicalTechnologySchools.com: What is one piece of advice you would give to a prospective anesthesia technician?

Farmer: Adopt a humble and honest approach in your professional life, recognizing the value of learning from failures as much as, if not more than, from successes. Remember, making mistakes teaches valuable lessons and helps keep you on the right path. Don’t fall into the trap of believing you know everything; regardless of your education or experience, there’s always something new to learn.

When confronted with unfamiliar tasks, openly admit your lack of knowledge but express your eagerness to learn. This attitude fosters growth and development and strengthens relationships with colleagues by showing openness to new experiences. Recognize your limitations, but remain committed to personal and professional growth, understanding that no one is expected to remember every detail. Being open to learning and admitting what you don’t know can lead to significant progress and development.

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 a CAAHEP-accredited or ASATT-approved Practical Experience Pathway 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 a CAAHEP-accredited or ASATT-approved Practical Experience Pathway 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 May 2024, only 11 CAAHEP-accredited programs and three ASATT-approved PEP programs prepare anesthesia technicians to enter the workforce with relevant education. The Committee on Accreditation for Anesthesia Technology Education (CoA-ATE) keeps an updated list of all ASATT-approved programs.

Columbia State Community College

Columbia State Community College offers an associate of applied science degree in anesthesia technology. The overall goal of this program is to prepare students for eligibility to take and pass the written ASATT national certification examination to become certified as anesthesia technologists.

This 69-credit program includes courses such as basic principles of anesthesia technology; basic principles of anesthesia equipment; advanced principles of anesthesia technology; anesthesia pharmacology; anatomy & physiology; medical terminology; introduction to anesthesia technology; and an anesthesia technician capstone.

  • Location: Columbia, TN
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP
  • Expected Time to Completion: Five academic semesters

Chemeketa Community College

Graduates of Chemeketa Community College’s associate of applied science degree in anesthesia technology should be able to demonstrate competency and rationale with regard to anesthesia-related equipment, demonstrate the ability to service and maintain anesthesia equipment, demonstrate the principles of basic as well as advanced airway management, and assume the role of competent and caring anesthesia technologists in a variety of healthcare settings.

Based on ASATT and CAAHEP standards and guidelines, the program’s curriculum includes courses such as an introduction to anesthesia technology; operating room equipment; pharmacology for the anesthesia technologist; medical law and ethics for anesthesia technologists; anesthesia equipment: principles and applications; and anesthesia technology certification exam prep.

  • Location: Salem, OR
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

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 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 and clinical rotations. Students are eligible for the Cer.A.T.T. exam after completing the program. The 64-credit curriculum includes courses such as introduction to anesthesia technology; culture of healthcare; EKG analysis; anesthetics; anesthesia technology clinical experience; anesthesia technology clinical seminar; and contemporary American society.

  • Location: Milwaukee, WI
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

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 culminating in a certificate of achievement and an associate of science degree.

Students at PCC will take courses such as professional aspects of anesthesia technology; anesthesia pharmacology; basic principles of anesthesia technology; and advanced principles of anesthesia technology. They will also participate in clinical experiences and seminars demonstrating anesthesia care techniques.

Graduates of this program will be able to assist licensed anesthesia providers, provide support for surgical cases, perform maintenance on anesthesia equipment, and sterilize, clean, disinfect, order, stock, and maintain anesthesia equipment and supplies.

  • Location: Pasadena, CA
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP
  • Expected Time to Completion: Three semesters

Wayne County Community College District

Wayne County Community College District offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in anesthesia technology, preparing students to enter the allied health field, focusing on advanced and fundamental clinical procedures assisting the anesthesia provider in the safe and efficient care of patients under anesthesia. This six-semester program prepares students for work in various clinical settings, such as hospital operating rooms, labor and delivery units, emergency rooms, intensive care units, ambulatory surgery centers, and outpatient procedure suites.

The program’s 68-credit curriculum includes courses such as an introduction to anesthesia technology; basic and advanced principles of anesthesia technology; anesthesia technology instrumentation; anesthesia technology pharmacology; anesthesia technology clinical; anesthesia technology seminar and certification preparation; and medical terminology.

  • Location: Detroit, MI
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Community College of Allegheny County

Community College of Allegheny County offers an associate of science program in anesthesia technology preparing students to work under the supervision of anesthesia providers and as vital members of anesthesia care teams. Graduates will be ready to work in various clinical settings, including interventional and diagnostic radiology, hospital operating rooms, labor and delivery units, emergency rooms, intensive care units, ambulatory surgery centers, and outpatient procedure suites.

This 71- to 73-credit program includes courses such as basic principles of anesthesia technology; basic principles of anesthesia equipment; advanced principles of anesthesia technology; advanced anesthesia equipment; introductory chemistry; anesthesia technology clinical; anesthesia pharmacology; and professional issues for the anesthesia technologist.

  • Location: Monroeville, PA
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Community College of Baltimore County

Community College of Baltimore County’s associate of applied science program in anesthesia technology prepares students to become important members of anesthesia patient care teams. This collaborative program is with the Johns Hopkins Hospital Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine.

Made up of 60 credits, the program includes courses such as fundamentals of anesthesia technology; concepts of anesthesia technology; anesthesia pharmacology; anesthesia technology equipment; anesthesia technology practicum; and anesthesia technology capstone.

  • Location: Baltimore, MD
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 months

Durham Technical Community College

Durham Tech offers a 68-credit associate of applied science (AAS) degree in anesthesia technology. This program aims to prepare students to take and pass the written ASATT national certification examination to become certified as anesthesia technologists.

This program requires courses such as anesthesia pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, anesthesia monitoring equipment, and pathophysiology, among others.

  • Location: Fort Worth, TX
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years

Tarrant County Community College

Tarrant County Community College offers an associate of applied science (AAS) degree in anesthesia technology. This program aims to prepare students to take and pass the written ASATT national certification examination to become certified as anesthesia technologists.

This program requires courses such as the essentials of medical terminology, principles of anesthesia technology, an introduction to ethics, and several courses on the fundamentals of the discipline.

  • Location: Fort Worth, TX
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years

Oklahoma City Community College

Oklahoma City Community College offers an associate of applied science degree in anesthesia technology. This program aims to prepare students to take and pass the written ASATT national certification examination to become certified as anesthesia technologists.

Please note that this program is not accepting applications for the 2024-2025 academic year.

  • Location: Oklahoma City, OK
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years

Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University offers a degree in health science with a concentration in anesthesia technology. This program aims to prepare students to take and pass the written ASATT national certification examination to become nationally certified.

Please note that this program is not accepting applications for the 2024-2025 academic year.

  • Location: Stony Brook, NY
  • Accreditation: CAAHEP
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years

Hybrid & Online Programs in Anesthesia Technology

Although becoming an anesthesia technician can be a great way to start a 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 currently need to be online programs that the ASATT has approved. While completing an online anesthesia technician program can be a great way to learn more and advance their careers, more is needed to 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 need to be experienced in the medical field, there are often courses offered in medical terminology and introductory courses to the area of anesthesia technology.

Further, methods in the specific technology and equipment a working AT uses 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 must focus on the profession's most practical and broadest aspects. 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. Still, 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 institution-wide and programmatic. 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 healthcare 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 demand for skilled ATs has been upward, showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. This burgeoning need is fueled by the expanding healthcare sector, technological advancements in medical procedures, and an aging population requiring more surgical interventions. From 2022 to 2032, 7,000 new positions will be added to the 110,320 currently employed surgical technologists (BLS 2024).

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 5 percent between 2022 and 2032, slightly faster than the national average of 3 percent (BLS 2024).

Surgical technologists earn an annual average salary of $62,250 (BLS May 2023). Here are the salary profiles for surgical technicians:

  • 10th percentile: $40,640
  • 25th percentile: $49,940
  • 50th percentile (median): $60,610
  • 75th percentile: $72,520
  • 90th percentile: $83,150
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 May 2023

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 2024, the ASATT offers the certified Anesthesia Technologist (Cer.A.T.T). Previously, ASATT offered the Anesthesia Technician (Cer.A.T.), which is no longer available, although it remains valid for those currently holding it.

The path to becoming a certified anesthesia technologist involves completing a CAAHEP-accredited or CoA-ATE-approved program followed by successfully passing the Technologist exam. For uncertified individuals with extensive experience wishing to obtain certification, ASATT provides a Practical Experience Pathway. Additionally, certified individuals must earn continuing education units (CEUs) within their two-year certification period to maintain their credentials, ensuring they remain knowledgeable and up-to-date with the latest practices in anesthesia technology.

ASATT certification is currently the only professional certification available to anesthesia technicians. This certification can benefit the job market as some hospitals and clinics require it. However, the certification is not required by any state or local government. 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.

Rachel Drummond, MEd
Rachel Drummond, MEd Writer

Rachel Drummond has contributed insightful articles to MedicalTechnologySchools.com since 2019, where she offers valuable advice and guidance for those pursuing careers in the healthcare field, combining her passion for education with her understanding of the critical role that healthcare professionals play in promoting physical and mental well-being.

Rachel is a writer, educator, and coach from Oregon. She has a master’s degree in education (MEd) and has over 15 years of experience teaching English, public speaking, and mindfulness to international audiences in the United States, Japan, and Spain. She writes about the mind-body benefits of contemplative movement practices like yoga on her blog, inviting people to prioritize their unique version of well-being and empowering everyone to live healthier and more balanced lives.