Cardiac Rehabilitation Salary and Career Facts

Find out career options in the field of cardiac rehabilitation, which can include nutritional counseling, nursing and physical therapy. Get information about education and licensure requirements for these careers, along with average salaries. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Career options in the cardiac rehabilitation field can include nutritional counseling, nursing and physical therapy. The following chart gives an overview of what could be expected from these careers.

Nutritionist, dietitian Nursing Physical therapist
Degree Required Bachelor's, with options for continuing education Associate's, bachelor's preferred Associate's, advanced degree preferred
Education Field of Study Dietetics, nutrition, food service management or a similar field Nursing Physiology, physical therapy
Training Required Nutrition coursework, internships, licensure training Clinical hours, licensure training Physiology coursework, licensure training, clinical hours
Licensure Required National licensure, state licensure National licensure, state licensure State licensure
Average Salary (2013) $55,920* $66,220* $81,030*

Source: *The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Is Cardiac Rehabilitation?

Patients who have suffered from a heart attack or other trauma to the heart, including surgery to treat heart disease, need to rebuild the strength of the heart and cardiovascular system. This recovery process involves a variety of treatments, including establishment of an exercise program and nutritional counseling. Professionals in the cardiac rehabilitation field help patients develop a healthy lifestyle to prevent further heart disease. Psychological counseling may be part of the process of establishing new habits.

How Do I Establish a Career in the Field?

Several medical fields hold professions related to cardiac rehabilitation. As a physical therapist you would guide the patient in the proper exercises to strengthen cardiovascular health. To become a physical therapist, you would be required to obtain a graduate degree, either a Master of Physical Therapy, a Master of Science in Physical Therapy or a Doctor or Physical Therapy. However, you could become a physical therapy assistant with an associate's degree focused on related physiology coursework. As a physical therapist or physical therapist assistant, you would be required to obtain the license and certifications required by your state health board.

If you choose to become a dietician or nutritionist, you would counsel the cardiac patient on dietary habits and direct the patient to develop eating habits that support a healthy heart. For this position, you would be required to hold a bachelor's degree in foods and nutrition or dietetics. Licensure by your state board of health is necessary to practice. You many choose to become certified by the American Dietetic Association.

Another option for a career in cardiac rehabilitation may be in the field of nursing. You could become a registered nurse and pursue employment at the cardiac centers of hospitals and outpatient clinics. To become a registered nurse, you must first complete an educational program such as an Associate of Science in Nursing, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a nursing diploma program. To obtain employment, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and meet the licensing requirements of your state.

What Is My Income Potential?

If you choose to become a nutritionist or dietitian, you could earn an annual wage of about $55,920 on average, based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimate for 2013. For a registered nurse, the average wage was $66,220. As a physical therapist, the BLS estimates that you could expect to earn about $81,030 on average.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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