CRNA Career Path and Progression Opportunities

If you’ve chosen a career as a CRNA, you know it’s a field full of opportunities. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, estimates a 9% growth for CRNAs through 2032 – with approximately 4,500 jobs becoming available. The path from RN to CRNA is one of the longest paths to becoming an advanced practice registered nurse, but it also offers some of the biggest rewards.  

Certified Nurse Anesthetists earn the highest salary of any APRN, with a mean salary of $202,470, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. CRNAs working in outpatient centers earn the most with a wage of $254,180. 

Those who choose to work as a locum tenens CRNA will see an even higher hourly rate ranging from $146 to $158, a rate above the BLS mean hourly wage. 

Independent Practice 

But it’s not just about the money. CRNAs play a vital role in caring for patients in a variety of settings, which means CRNAs have a variety of work environments to choose from and can choose a setting that best fits their temperament and career path. From hospitals and surgery centers to pain management clinics and private practice specialties like plastic surgeons, dentists, podiatrists and more, the options are almost limitless. 

Plus, the profession also offers the chance to practice as independently as possible. According to the American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology (AANA), CRNAs are “qualified to make independent judgements regarding all aspects of anesthesia care based on their licensure and certification. They are the only anesthesia professionals with critical care experience prior to beginning formal anesthesia education.” 

After several years in the profession and after working in several different settings, many CRNAs choose to specialize in a specific type of nurse anesthesiology such as pediatrics, cardiology or obstetrics. This increases the CRNA’s earning potential. Some CRNAs may choose a fellowship following graduation to pursue a career as a pain management provider. 


It’s not all about hands-on healthcare either. CRNA careers also pave the way for a variety of leadership roles such as serving on boards or committees or in administrative roles at hospitals or universities. (You may also find a number of CRNAs in local, state and national political roles!)  

And don’t forget one of the most important career paths – educating future nurse anesthetists for the next generation. Working in a college or university setting often allows CRNAs to work as an adjunct or as a part-time faculty member if you’re not ready to commit to a full-time role. Nurse anesthetist instructors are paid less than those providing patient care, but many find the experience a rewarding one. 

Nurse anesthetists have been providing care to patients in the U.S. for more than 150 years – first on the battlefields of the American Civil War and almost exclusively on the front lines of World War I. This profession has continued to grow and will continue to evolve by integrating cutting-edge technology into their practice, enhancing patient outcomes and expanding their scope of practice with more autonomy than ever before.  

No matter which career path you choose, as a CRNA, you are uniquely suited to the task and are equipped to provide patient care when and where the patient needs it most. 

If a locum tenens CRNA role is part of your career path, we’d love to help! Click here and request a consultation today.