Anesthesia Technician Certification

Want to have proof that you have strong anesthesia technician skills? Taking an exam and becoming certified may be one smart way to do this, in addition to just being a solid and effective worker on the job. According to the American Society of Anesthesiology Technologists and Technicians (ASATT), an international organization, there are several benefits derived from anesthesia technician certification or technologist certification, the two certifications currently offered through the organization. The first benefit is that certification provides formal recognition to those skilled as technicians or technologists. Another reason is that certification encourages personal and professional growth in the field. Finally, anesthesia tech certification also establishes a national standard of knowledge, and, as a result can allow employers, health professionals and members of the public to make better choices about healthcare.

While two types of certifications were previously available though the ASATT, one for technicians and another for technologists, this has not been the case since July 15, 2015. As of this date, the anesthesia technician exam was retired and only the technologist exam remains available. It is important to note that, as of July 15, 2015, certified technicians will not be advanced to certified technologists, but will be able to keep their certifications as long as they meet the necessary continuing education units (CEUs).

Both the anesthesia tech certification exam and anesthesia technologist certification exam have been developed and administered in partnership with Applied Measurement Professionals, Inc. (AMP), which also reports candidates’ scores. Exams are available by computer at approximately 170 AMP centers across the United States and also in many other countries, including in Canada, China, Egypt, India and Japan.

Requirements for Certification

To be eligible to sit for the exam to become a certified anesthesia technician (Cer.A.T.), candidates must be proficient in English, have a high school diploma or GED, have basic computer skills and at least two years of employment as an anesthesia technician or be a graduate of a two-year program approved by the ASATT. Those interested in taking the anesthesia tech certification exam must have all their materials submitted and meet all the exam requirements by July 15, 2015. After this date only the anesthesia technologist exam will be available, which requires that students just graduate from an ASATT-approved or accredited program to be eligible. (A full list of these approved schools is provided on the ASATT website. The ASATT has adopted the standards and guidelines set by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, CAAHEP).

An application must be filled out to be able to sit for both exams. For the technician exam, you need to include a copy of a high school diploma, a letter from your supervisor attesting to two years of employment as an anesthesia technician and inclusion of the appropriate fees. The fees for the technician exam are $275 for ASATT members and $400 for non-members. However, failure to submit all needed material with the application for either exam can result in an extra $100 processing fee.

To sit for anesthesia technologist certification (Cer.A.T.T.), a more rigorous test, you must already be certified at as an anesthesiologist technician, or, after July 15, be a graduate of an ASATT- approved or accredited program. Along with your application, you must also submit the exam fees, which are $325 for members and $450 for non-members. As it stands, July 15 is the very last day to use work experience to test for the technician ASATT certification.

Certification Preparation Exam

Easily-downloadable handbooks are available on the ASATT website to provide students with more information on both the technician and technologist exams. These handbooks cover various topics, ranging from the application process to the testing process and even special arrangements for people with disabilities. Individuals looking for in-depth information can find extensive information in these handbooks. Once candidates have submitted their exam applications, they should receive notice of their eligibility within approximately two weeks. This notice is good for 90 days, but if a candidate fails to schedule and take an exam within those 90 days, they lose their exam rights and all application fees. Exams are generally available at test sites at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and on one Saturday of each month. A list of centers can be found at www.goamp.com.

Since the anesthesia tech certification exam will expire as of July 15, 2015, much of the content here will focus on the technologist exam. This exam is broken into two parts, the perioperative environment, which includes 70 items, and the anesthesia specific topics section, which is comprised of 55 items. At least six books are referenced in the exam handbook to use for studying, two of which include “Understanding Anesthesia Equipment, Construction, Care and Complications” by Dorsch and Dorsch and “Clinical Anesthesia Handbook” by Barsh, Cullen and Stoelting. The remaining recommended books can be found on page seven of the anesthesia technologist exam handbook.

When arriving at an AMP center to take your certifying exam, you can also take a practice test. This practice test does not detract from the time you will be given on the actual exam, for which you have three hours to complete 125 questions. Immediately upon completing the exam, a supervisor will be able to give you a pass or fail score on the exam, which will be based upon the number of questions that you answer correctly. Should you fail an exam, you can take it again by completing the reapplication form and submitting a fee. However, if you wait 90 days or more, you will need to submit a new application and the full fee. There is no limit to the number of times that you can take an ASATT exam.

Value of Certification & Specialization

Certification can be important in the field because it can allow people to move up the career ladder, particularly when they can show they are already responsible and effective on the job. While you may be able to gain entry-level work without certification, certification can certainly be a statement about your ‘professional’ priorities and indicate that you are so knowledgeable about what you do that you can meet the expected standards for certification. In fact, employers can now go to the ASATT website to verify certification of individuals and check new certifications of those who have just passed the test. The ASATT’s website page allows employers to search for certification status based on a person’s last name and state of residence. When new applicants pass the exam, their information will typically be updated on the website by the 15th of each month.

Licensing Boards

There is currently no state licensing needed to be employed as an anesthesia technician or technologist. It is important to note, however, that recertification does need to occur on a two-year basis with ASATT. In other words, certifying is not a one-time event, but a continuing process requiring renewal. As with the exam fees needed for initial certification, there are also recertifying fees required for the technologist certification, which are $170 for members and $325 for non-members. Those seeking renewal need to fill out an application and show proof of their continuing education units, which are 30 CEUs to renew at the technologist certification level. The technologist exam handbook reports that one continuing education unit may be granted for every 50 to 60 minute lecture you attend and that CEUs fall into two categories. These include Category I, which are occupation specific units, and Category II units, which can be related to various topics, including assertiveness training, computer programing, marketing, stress management and others. However, only five CEUs can come from Category II.

Members may not need to show proof of their CEUs for ASATT-sponsored events or Sensor quizzes, as these should be in the organization’s database. (A full listing of Sensor quizzes is available on the ASATT’s website and are based on content published in The Sensor, the quarterly magazine put out by ASATT for its members). A FAQs page is also posted on the ASATT website and can provide more details to anyone wanting further information on the renewal process.

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.