Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant

Certified anesthesiologist assistants (CAAs) are highly skilled medical professionals who plan and deliver anesthesia care as essential members of the Anesthesia Care Team (ACT). The ACT builds a patient-centric team that provides each patient with the safest model of care. Within the ACT, CAAs work as physician extenders who deliver a variety of care techniques under the supervision of a physician anesthesiologist.1 A CAA is trained extensively in the delivery and maintenance of quality anesthesia care as well as advanced patient monitoring techniques. All CAAs possess a premedical background, a baccalaureate degree, and also complete a comprehensive educational and clinical program at the graduate school level.2 

Job Settings

CAAs typically work in hospitals and surgery centers under the direction of a licensed anesthesiologist. They usually work in the surgical and emergency care departments.3

Daily Responsibilities

A CAA’s functions include collecting initial preanesthetic data on patients, performing or assisting in related diagnostic laboratory work (such as drawing arterial and venous blood samples), establishing noninvasive and invasive routine monitoring methods (as delegated by an anesthesiologist) as well as assisting in the application and interpretation of advanced techniques, assisting in inducing, maintaining, and altering anesthesia levels, assisting in the use of advanced life support techniques, and assisting in postanesthesia. For a full list of responsibilities, see American Academy of Anesthesiologist Assistants (AAAA) FAQs 2 (#3 under CAA Practice). 

Important Skills

Certified Anesthesiologist Assistants demonstrate many of the same qualities as other technical and general healthcare professionals. These skills include adequate listening abilities, capability of following instructions from anesthesiologists, and a strong sense of ethics. CAAs are observant, patient, compassionate, responsive, open-minded, tolerant, and dedicated.4


The average salary range for anesthesiologist assistants is $95,000-$180,000.3 According to the Association of Anesthesiologist Assistant Education Programs, starting salaries average $160,000 plus benefits, sign-on, overtime and retirement contribution.1

Job Outlook

CAAs are in high demand due to a nationwide shortage of anesthesia care professionals. CAAs had nearly an 100% job placement rate.1

Pros and Cons


  • Good work life balance: flexible 40 hour work week in which taking call is often elective with 4-6 weeks of paid vacation
  • Good salary
  • Job security
  • Training time: Usually only two years
  • Variety of places to work: hospitals, pain clinics, medical centers, etc.


  • Possible discomfort: From being on feet for long periods of time
  • Possible irregular hours: CAAs working in hospitals may be on call or work irregular hours
  • Few programs available: As of 2021, 12 programs were available 

Career Paths/Preparing for Graduate School:

Qualified students must possess a bachelor’s degree with a premedical sciences track to enter a Certified Anesthesiologist Assistant program. Typical prerequisites include two semesters of biology with laboratory, two semesters of vertebrate anatomy and physiology (or other advanced biology) with laboratory, two semesters of general chemistry; one semester of organic chemistry; a second semester of organic chemistry or biochemistry with laboratory, two semesters of general physics with laboratory, and two semesters of advanced college mathematics including calculus. But it is important to check the individual program sites as prerequisites can often differ and change. Either the MCAT or the GRE must be taken to apply to a program. Some programs also recommend or require shadowing a CAA. The required GPA for many programs is 3.00 but competitive applicants can have a GPA closer to 3.4. Most programs are full time and don’t offer work options. They typically last 24 to 28 months. The certification process for CAAs involves taking the Certification Exam for Anesthesiologist Assistants, which is based on the knowledge and skills required for anesthetist practice. Every two years, CAAs must complete 40 hours of continuing medical education (CME) and every six years, they must pass the Examination for Continued Demonstration of Qualifications (CDQ). 

Application Timeline

Most students apply for CAA programs through the Centralized Application Service for Anesthesiologist Assistants (CASAA). Application season significantly varies from school to school, so it is a good idea to create your own spreadsheet listing the opening date, closing date, and start of interviews at each school. Many CAA programs will conduct application season on a rolling basis, so early applicants gain an advantage.5

Financing Your Education

As there are so few programs, it is important to view each individual program for tuition costs, keeping in mind that programs are intensive so there will most likely not be enough time to work simultaneously.

Additional Resources