Skip to content

How to become an Anaesthetist

avg. starting salary

Have you got a knockout CV? Do you love helping people? Then you should become an anaesthetist….

An anaesthetist is a specialist doctor who is responsible for  administering anaesthesia and pain management to patients who are having surgery or undergoing other treatment. Patients that an anaesthetist works with can range from babies who may only be a few days old, through to the elderly. An anaesthetist can specialise in three areas; intensive care medicine, pain medicine or pre-hospital emergency medicine (treatment that’s provided outside of a hospital environment). Typical duties of an anaesthetist include: 

  • Assessing a patient to determine if they’re well enough for surgery or treatment
  • Deciding what type of anaesthetic is suitable for the patient (general or local)
  • Reassuring patients and answering any questions they may have
  • Administering the anaesthetic before surgery or treatment
  • Monitoring the patient’s vitals during the surgery or treatment (e.g. oxygen levels, heart activity etc.)
  • Resuscitating and stabilising patients in the emergency department

For anyone who wants to become an anaesthetist a thorough knowledge of medicine, anatomy and anaesthetics is a must. It’s also important that you aren’t squeamish as you’ll spend most of your time in operating theatres.

As anaesthetists typically work as part of a wider medical team, consisting of nurses, junior doctors and surgeons, being comfortable working with others and making decisions are important skills to have.

You’ll also need confidence that anaesthetics is the field you want to specialise in once you’ve completed your medical degree, as it’ll take a few years’ worth of training to make the transition. Other key skills for an anaesthetist include: 

  • Ability to make decisions in a high-pressure environment
  • Strong communication skills 
  • Compassion
  • Excellent attention to detail 
  • Patience 
  • Leadership 


Trainee anaesthetist

Up to £33,000


Up to £86,000

Consultant Anaesthetist

Up to £100,000

"Being an anaesthetist isn’t what it looks like on TV. We don’t just sit on a chair and wait for our moment during surgery. In fact, it’s very varied. A typical day starts with checking what medicines and drugs are needed for current patients, followed by checking the procedures for the day and meeting with patients to discuss what’ll happen before, during and after surgery or their treatment.  If you’re working in emergency medicine, you must be prepared for whatever comes in and make decisions at speed. The unpredictability and knowing that what you’re doing can make a huge difference to someone’s life are the reasons why I love being an anaesthetist."

Get qualified