With a master’s degree in nurse anesthesia, one of the highest-paying master’s degrees, a career as a nurse anesthetist could be yours. Nurse anesthetists who are considering a move to another state, however, might worry about how relocating can impact their careers. Like other healthcare careers, nurse anesthetists are subject to regulations and requirements, such as the need to attain professional certifications and licenses. If you’re working toward a nurse anesthetist career and you anticipate moving in the future, you must understand the distinctions between certification and licensure and pay attention to factors that can make it easier to maintain your credentials when relocating.
Certification and Licensure for Nurse Anesthetists
Nurse anesthetists need two kinds of qualifications, certification and licensure. Professional certification for nurse anesthetists isn’t awarded by the state but instead by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists. Licensure, on the other hand, is issued by an individual state. Because of this distinction, your certification as a CRNA follows you when you move to another state, but your license does not. You would need to acquire the appropriate license in your new state to continue working as a nurse anesthetist. The credential you earn upon meeting the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists is the Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, or CRNA, designation.
To become a CRNA, you need a registered nurse (RN) license, an undergraduate and graduate nursing education, and a passing score on the National Certification Examination (NCE).
What to Expect When Relocating as a Nurse Anesthetist
Even though the CRNA credential is awarded by a national organization, nursing licenses are still issued on a state-by-state basis. As a result, even nurse anesthetists with CRNA designation are still professionally affected by a move across state lines. However, two important factors exist that can make it easier for relocating nurse anesthetists to get to work in their new location.
First of all, most states award APRN licensure based primarily on the nurse’s attainment of professional credentials. Since advanced practice registered nurses work in specialized areas of healthcare, states often require that a nurse applying for their APRN license earns a passing score on the highest level of national Advanced Practice Nurse Examination in their chosen specialty. What this means for nurse anesthetists is that, besides preparing you for initial licensure in your home state, being a CRNA will go a long way toward getting your new license in another state.
Secondly, there is the existence of nurse licensing compacts. Until recently, nurse license compacts applied only to registered nurses (RNs), not to APRNs. However, in August 2020, the APRN Compact was adopted to begin the process of implementation, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing reported. Under the APRN Compact, participating states would allow their nurse anesthetists to acquire a multistate license under which they could also practice in other participating states.
As of March 2021, only two states, Delaware and North Dakota, have APRN Compact legislation pending. For the APRN Compact to be implemented, at least seven states must enact this legislation. Because the APRN Compact is so new, it’s not yet able to help nurse anesthetists who have already relocated or are currently in the process of relocating. In the future, though, it could make the process of moving your APRN credentials to another state much easier.
When you look at the popularity of the compact for registered nurses, it’s reasonable to expect that many states will eventually participate in the APRN Compact, too. As of March 2021, 33 states participate in Nurse Licensure Compacts for RNs.
The Best States for Nurse Anesthetists
Nurse anesthetists may move for many reasons, from family obligations to a desire to live in a different environment. However, if you’re moving for economic opportunities, it may make sense to move to one of the highest paying states for nurse anesthetists. The state where nurse anesthetists earn the most money is Wyoming, which, as of 2019, boasted a $243,310 average salary, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Next is Montana, where the mean salary is $239,380. The average salaries for nurse anesthetists in Oregon and Wisconsin are very close, at $234,750 and $233,600, respectively. Although California is the fifth-highest paying state, nurse anesthetists there still make more than $100 per hour, with a median salary of $227,290.
If you’re looking at the states that employ the greatest number of nurse anesthetists, Texas is first, with 4,300 of these healthcare professionals. The other states employing the most nurse anesthetists are North Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio, and Michigan, the BLS reported.