Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and nurse anesthetists are similar in that they are both advanced-practice nurses. However, they do differ in terms of education, job duties/roles, and salary.


Both NPs and certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs) start off in a master's or doctorate program to earn their advanced-practice degree. Both must complete a set of core studies in advanced pharmacology, advanced pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, and the advanced practice role. Students in both the NP and nurse anesthetist program also must complete core clinical rotations as well. Some schools have a bit of cross-over; for example, some CRNA programs blend concepts of advanced pathophysiology but have a focus on anesthesia principles.

After the foundation courses are completed, students complete courses pertaining to their specialty "track". For example, NP students focus on adult or pediatric primary or acute care, women's health, psychiatry, etc., while the nurse anesthetist students begin a course of study on anesthesia concepts and research. Both programs take approximately the same amount of time.

Learn more about the various degree offerings:


The roles and duties of a nurse practitioner versus a nurse anesthetist are quite different. While both must take a complete history and complete a full assessment, a nurse practitioner, depending on his or her role, is responsible for the care of the patient in either the acute or primary care setting. They may focus on preventive care, or care for the patient during an acute illness.

Nurse anesthetists have a different, highly specialized role. They are responsible for administering anesthesia and sedation, monitoring the patient during a procedure, and inserting central lines and epidurals. They must be knowledgeable about the different types of anesthesia medications and be alert to any adverse reactions.


Nurse anesthetists have a bit of an edge over nurse practitioners when it comes to salary. According to, nurse anesthetists earn an average of $142,424 annually. Nurse practitioners, on the other hand, earn an average of $92,433 yearly. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also reflects this difference in salary; according to the BLS, nurse anesthetists earn a median salary of $160,270 whereas NPs reportedly earn a median annual salary of $103,880.

The top paying states for NPs and CRNAs also differ slightly. According to the BLS, the top paying states for NPs are:

  • California
  • Alaska
  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts
  • Connecticut

Conversely, the top paying states for CRNAs are:

  • Montana
  • Wyoming
  • California
  • Oregon
  • Nevada

As with any occupation, there are variables that factor into salary. Years of experience, additional education, city, and facility all may affect salary. Learn more about NP salary vs CRNA salary.

Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN
Latest posts by Amanda Bucceri Androus, RN, BSN (see all)
  • Nurse Manager Leadership Recommendations for Staff Engagement and Success - January 2, 2018

Our Visitors Found These Nursing Topics Useful

Nurse Education Minor

Can You Declare a Minor in Nursing?

Because of the way nursing programs are structured, declaring a minor in the field of nursing is usually not an option. For example, a biology major probably wouldn't be able to minor in nursing. The reason is because many nursing…

Clean surgical masks and N95 respirators sitting on table

How to Reuse PPE

As nurses, we are taught and retaught each year how to manage personal protective equipment (PPE) and the importance of a good seal with our N95 respirator. Suddenly, in the past week, we are expected to take most of what…

Mom breastfeeding baby in white shirt

Breastfeeding Recommendations in the Time of COVID-19 – What Nurses Need to Know

Once considered the happiest time of motherhood, new mothers are now facing anxiety and uncertainty about bringing a new life into this world. Pregnant women are receiving less in-office care and more virtual visits. They are unable to have a…

Young nurse wearing pink scrubs with stethoscope

What Experienced Nurses Say Are the Best Jobs for New Graduates

Many new graduate nurses are struggling to break into their first jobs as registered nurses. Historically, nursing educators and professors will encourage new nurses to "spend a few formative years" in a general medical-surgical department in order to fine-tune basic…

Surgincal mask with airplane COVID-19

How Nurses Are Keeping Up With Practice Agreement Changes During COVID-19

When 2020 started, it was thought to be the "year of the nurse" as it marked the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale. Nurses and nurse practitioners were in for a big surprise, as their dedication and loyalty to the profession…