Education & Training
To work as an anesthesiologist, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or GED;
- have a bachelor's degree;
- graduate from medical school;
- complete an internship;
- complete a residency program in anesthesiology; and
- pass additional exams to become board certified.
Education after high school
To become a licensed doctor, you must complete medical school. Medical schools grant a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.M.) degree. You spend the first two years of medical school in classrooms and laboratories. You study anatomy, biochemistry, and medicines. You also learn how to take a medical history, examine patients, and make a diagnosis. During the next two years, you work in hospitals and clinics under the supervision of experienced physicians.
Entry into medical school is competitive. You should apply to several schools.
Most students who apply to medical school have a bachelor's degree. A pre-medicine or science major is good preparation. If you earn a liberal arts degree, be sure to take several courses in physics, biology, and chemistry.
While in medical school, you spend two years working as an intern in a hospital or clinic. As an intern, you rotate through different medical specialties. These include internal medicine, family medicine, obstetrics, oncology, and other hospital departments.
After medical school, you must complete a four-year residency program in anesthesia. You receive wages while you are a resident. After completing your residency, you take additional exams in anesthesiology to become board certified.
The military provides advanced training for anesthesiologists. However, it does not provide the initial training to become a doctor. Scholarships for advanced medical training are available in return for a required period of military service.
Related Programs (Current training programs available)
Fields of Study (What to study to prepare for this career)
Click on any of the Fields of Study listed below to find out more about preparing for this career.
- Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Nurse Anesthetist
- Osteopathic Medicine
Level of Education
The table below lists the level of education attained by a subset of workers in this occupation. The workers surveyed were between age 25 and 44.
|Education level attained||Percentage of workers in this occupation*|
|Less than high school diploma||0|
|High school diploma or equivalent||0|
|Some college, no degree||0|
|Doctoral (Ph.D.) or professional degree||97|
* National data for physicians and surgeons (SOC 29-1060).
Helpful High School Courses
In high school, take classes that prepare you for college. A college preparatory curriculum may be different from your state's graduation requirements. You need a very strong background in math and science to become a doctor. Take as many math and science courses as you can.
You should also consider taking some advanced courses in high school. This includes Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses if they are available in your school. If you do well in these courses, you may receive college credit for them. Advanced courses can also strengthen your college application.
Helpful electives to take in high school that prepare you for this occupation include:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Computer Applications
- Food and Nutrition
- Foreign Language
- Introduction to Health Care
- Safety and First Aid
Many anesthesiologists are self-employed. If you want to run your own business some day, you should consider taking these courses as well:
- Introduction to Business
The courses listed above are meant to help you create your high school plan. If you have not already done so, talk to a school counselor or parent about the courses you are considering taking.
You should also check with a teacher or counselor to see if work-based learning opportunities are available in your school and community. These might include field trips, job shadowing, internships, and actual work experience. The goal of these activities is to help you connect your school experiences with real-life work.
Join some groups, try some hobbies, or volunteer with an organization that interests you. By participating in activities you can have fun, make new friends, and learn about yourself. Maybe one of them will help direct you to a future career.
Source: Minnesota Department of Education.