My background is in IT. I don't have any extra money in the bank now, am currently unemployed, and just found a new job for $40k/year in a helpdesk job. I am in my early 30s, female. I have been exploring careers and considering CRNA. I have a computer science related bachelors. I don't have a lot of money and want to know what is the most affordable path to becoming a CRNA while getting a decent education? Math/science were my strong points in school. There are a few issues I am concerned about.
In short, I'm thinking the path will be something like this:
-Online Pre-requisites while working, then a 16 month BSN program. Or give up my full-time job to take the pre-requisite courses full-time and go into a lot of student debt for 2 years
-ICU for a year
-Master's program for 28 months
So it will take me about 6 years total.
I have a few concerns:
I don't have any pre-requisites now and limited money. Would it make more sense to take them online while working, or quit my job to take them full-time? I'm concerned about how courses transfer from school to school and that taking an online course at one place would not count when applying to another school. I like the programs that pretty much ensure a spot in the nursing program if you take the pre-requisites, but the ones I've come across are too expensive.
E.g., Utica College in Liverpool - the pre-reqs can be taken online. I'm not how much the pre-requisites will cost but if it's $800 per credit, for 34 credits of pre-requisites that's $27k? The tuition is over $50k.
There are some nursing programs
where the tuition is $10k, and since I'll be out of state, maybe it will be another $15k for rent, food, expenses, etc. So it will cost me about $25k/year to do a nursing program if I'm not working. Since I need to take the pre-requisites still which could take 2 semesters, that might be 2.5 years of nursing school
(not working), at least, so it will put me at over $60k in debt.
I don't want to go into a huge amount of debt. I could work while taking the online pre-requisites but I'm not sure how realistic that is, will I have time to do all the pre-reqs to enter by July 2018?
I am single now but I want to date, get married and have kids maybe in the next 5 years. I thought maybe I could meet someone through the school, and try to socialize on weekends. But by the time I have kids that will be when I graduate so I didn't want to get the degree and not be able to work and be stuck with a ton of debt. Does being a CRNA fit into this?
Aug 19, '17
Thanks for replying
Yes I was drawn to the salary but I am interested in science as well. For me my strength was in math/science in high school and I feel in a way like I'm "wasting" my abilities if I just stay at a 40k/year job. But I made a spreadsheet to compare the costs. I am able to get a $60k/year job eventually and save $30k/year from that. If I do a CRNA, it's about 5 years of not being able to work. And maybe $25k/year for two years for nursing school and pre-requisites, and maybe another $70k for the master's. And maybe another $10k from the student loan interest. So it's at least $130k invested.
If I'm making $150k, the taxes will be higher, so maybe that is $100k after taxes. There is liability insurance costs for a CRNA (maybe $300/month?). Also if I'm making more I'll probably spend a bit more than if I were making less. I calculated the amount of savings I would have after 20 years and it would be about the same.
Also there is an opportunity costs of going to school. If I study 2 hours a day and 4 hours a week, that's 18 hours a week from studying. Instead of studying, I could use this time to take a part time job of $15/hour. Over 5 years, this would be about $50k after taxes in an opportunity cost from the time spent on studying.
Going the CRNA route, it would take about 9 years until I break even to get out of the debt and start making money. (The first two years I assumed I would make $120k instead of $150k).
After 20 years, I would "only" have maybe $40k more in savings as a CRNA, which amounts to less than $200/month.
Also there are a lot of issues/risks that I see from the CRNA path:
-There is a risk that if it takes longer than expected in this path and I may need to get a doctorate. It's already 2017 and I have 8 years until it becomes 2025 when a doctorate is needed but it will take me at least 6 years to do the path of a CRNA. If it takes 7 or 8 years I'm cutting it close to the limit. I'm not against doing a doctorate but it would add to the cost.
-I have a more laid back personality and I'm not "aggressive." I'm not sure if this would matter since I've read that a lot of CRNAs are type A personality?
-Liability issues. I am afraid to take on a lot of responsibilities and losing my career over an accident.
-Another issue for me is dating. I think that it would intimidate a lot of guys if they found out how much I was making. Has this been an issue for any other female CRNAs?
-And one of my goals in life is to have kids. I'm afraid if I have kids in the next 6 years that I won't have time to practice before having kids. Then my skills would not be up to speed. Maybe I could return to the work force in the future to work. I would rather have kids than go to CRNA school.
-I find an IT office to be comfortable than a hospital environment. The downsides of being in a hospital environment: wearing scrubs, exposed to diseases, dead bodies, gross images, etc. these are things I don't have to deal with in an IT office. Even if we have to wear professional or business casual clothes in an IT office environment, it doesn't seem as restrictive as scrubs. I like fashion and I like being able to express myself through clothes, and it's hard to do that with scrubs. I am prepared to deal with those things, but there is a comfort for me in being in an IT office where I don't have to encounter those things. But they are also things I am willing to give up to be a CRNA, but it's just something that I am considering.
-It's very competitive
-If after 6 years of schooling I don't like it then I am out of luck and stuck
-I will have limited time for hobbies
If I stay in IT, if I can get a $60k year job and save $30k, and invest it at 5%, I would be at about the same place financially as if I became a CRNA. I am still researching things and undecided.
How long did you give up school for to be with your kids before you thought about going back?
Last edit by niiicole on Aug 19, '17
Aug 20, '17
OK, thanks for that info. So I don't really have much time left, to enter school within 4 years. It'll be really tight.
I have considered it but it's not my strength. I am not good at developing software or programming, and I don't enjoy it. I took a helpdesk job because I like interacting with the customers. You have to know how to actually develop to be good at software engineering, I don't think it's something that anyone can excel at to be making $150k. Even to get an entry level job that pays $60k-70k year you have to be pretty good at it and have a certain level of proficiency.
There isn't any other field where I can realistically make $150k.
Financially, I'd be pretty happy if I could find a $60k/year job that I enjoy, without going into more debt (although I'm willing to do a year or two of school if it would help me to secure a job that pays about this much that I really like).
I don't need to make $150k.
A regular nursing job as a RN doesn't appeal to me, so I'd only be going through that with the goal of CRNA in mind. Some of the courses seem pretty interesting and I believe I can handle the curriculum. But I want to have kids too, and I'd have to wait until my late 30's if I do that.
Last edit by niiicole on Aug 20, '17
Aug 20, '17
Thanks for the replies.
I do like customer service. One of the things I like about an IT support job is being able to have some interaction with people and knowing I have resolved their technical issues. I'm an introvert but I do like to have some interaction with people so working with patients and stuff doesn't bother me. I like to be social every once in a while, so I'm not a complete introvert either all the time. I'm an easy going person so I don't tend to have conflicts with people. I think I would enjoy using my science knowledge to help a patient.
I think it takes a more outgoing personality to work in finance and I'm not sure if I have that. It's hard to get a finance job without previous experience, I have tried before. But it's an area I will keep in mind, thanks for the suggestion.
One of my main goals is to date and find a serious relationship in the next few years and I'm not sure how CRNA school will fit into this. I feel like I don't have too many "younger" years left and I'd rather spend the rest of those years dating than buried in books. But if I don't do it and I settle for a $40k job, is it wasting my potential?
If I have kids I don't mind being a stay home mom for a few years, would that be wasting my efforts to get a CRNA? If it is possible to at least find a serious relationship, get engaged and married before when I finish CRNA school, then I could have kids afterwards. And maybe wait a few years after I graduate before I start practicing? So I might not start practicing until I am 40 years old. Would I forget everything that I've learned by then? These are just some of the thoughts that are coming to mind.
There are some Doctorate degrees that are 3 year, and a master's in 2-2.5 years so even if I have to get a Doctorate if I enter after 2022 it wouldn't be more than a year more.
Last edit by niiicole on Aug 20, '17
Aug 21, '17
Is the following timeline realistic?
-2 semesters of pre-requisites (take them online, while I am working full-time), maybe Spring 2018 and Summer 2018.
-Apply to a ABSN program starting Jan 2019.
-finish ABSN by summer 2010.
-get certified as a RN, start working right away.
-Apply for Doctorate entry for Fall 2012. (So I can fit in 2 years of ICU experience). At the time of application, it might be 1.5 years but would they count the fact that by the time I start school it would add more ICU experience?
-3 years of doctorate, until Fall 2015.
Wow, so that's 8 years out from now.
I will be 40.
How much is realistic to expect for expenses or earnings?
year 1, 2, 3: save maybe $20k from my job in the next year. cost 25k/year for two years for pre-reqs, ABSN
year 4, 5: 2 years ICU, making $60k/year (maybe I can save $20k/year from that)
year 6, 7, 8: cost 30k/year for a Doctorate program? (total cost: almost $100k)
+ student loan interest maybe another $20k.
I also want to date, fall in love, and get married, etc.
I can wait to have kids until I'm 40 but then I won't be able to "use" the CRNA I just got right away. I may be in debt.
Be a stay home mom for a few years.
Then start my career? Bad idea?
Maybe this is not for me.
Last edit by niiicole on Aug 21, '17
Aug 22, '17
You would have maybe
20 years as a RN @ 75k (60k after taxes): 20*60000 = $1.2 million
You will be in school for at least 5 years, so you will have maybe 15 years as a CRNA, minus schooling costs:
15 years as a CRNA @ 150k/year (after taxes 100k): $1.5 million
Even this already is not that much different, 1.5 million vs 1.2 million
The difference is 300k
$30k for nursing school, $100k for master's
And actually if you are CRNA the first two years you might make maybe $120k ($90k after taxes), not $150k. So take out another $20k.
As a CRNA you have to pay maybe $4k/year for malpractice insurance. Over 15 years that's $60k.
If you make more probably you will spend more, etc. You will probably spend more if you have the lifestyle of a CRNA than a RN. If you spend an extra $5k making $150k compared to making $75k/year, over 15 years that's $75k.
Any student loans? Probably it will be $15k.
Difference: negative now.
Plus all the time studying to be a nurse, etc. (study/classes extremely hard, 10-15 hours a week and some people spend more on schoolwork. this is opportunity cost and time you could take a part time job, like driving for uber even if it only pays $12/hour.. let's say $10hr/hour after-taxes, for 15 hours a week, for 5 years of studying, that's 10*15*52*5 = $40k). And this is a low estimate, a lot of people study for more than 2 hours/day.
no holidays, weekends, etc.
Even if you add in 2 years of savings from working as a ICU it's still negative.
+ no guarantees you will get into school
+ liability issues
+ very competitive (is it true the competition for getting into CRNA school is way more than the competition in the job market to get a good RN job)?
So basically why work like 2x as hard for less money?
I think this makes sense to do only if you love science/medicine or just want to be a CRNA, because financially I don't think it's worth it.
Maybe you would prefer to study and get paid effectively for like $12/hour instead of driving for uber or taking another job for $12/hour. If you enjoy the subjects normally learned in nursing school or CRNA (pharmacology, anatomy, anesthesia, etc.) this could be a good way to spend your time and effectively get paid through your eventual earnings (even if it's a low rate). But I think most people don't really like the studying part, they are just doing it to get the higher salary later. So then I would say you could just drive for uber in the time you would have spent studying for school and make the same amount. But I think taking a random part time job for $12/hour job could be a good way to meet people or explore skills.
I would rather have a $50k/year job and have weekends, evenings, holidays, etc. free to pursue other interests than work 50% harder for $60k/year
Last edit by niiicole on Aug 22, '17