Cardiology Nurse: Career and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in cardiology nursing. Read on to learn more about career options along with salary and licensure information. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is A Cardiology Nurse?

Cardiology nurses specialize in caring for cardiac patients. These patients may be suffering from heart disease or a heart condition. Like all nurses, they may be involved in providing personal care to patients, monitoring their vital signs, administering medications and assessing the patient's condition. They may also conduct stress test evaluations on patients and be involved in electrocardiogram monitoring.

The specific training requirements for cardiology nurses may vary, depending on whether they attain the classification of a registered nurse (RN), clinical nurse specialist (CNS) or nurse practitioner (NP). RNs need an associate's or bachelor's degree, but clinical nurse specialists and nurse practitioners need a master's degree in nursing. Nurses may complete a period of supervised work experience as part of their preparation for their career, and they may opt to work in the field they plan to specialize in. The specific duties a cardiology nurse performs may vary slightly depending on whether they're an RN, CNS or NP. For example, nurse practitioners can see patients without a doctor's supervision, and can order tests, prescribe medication and diagnose patients. Registered nurses implement care plans and provide direct care to the patients. Clinical nurse specialists oversee the nursing practices in their facilities and are responsible for ensuring all the nurses are qualified and performing their duties as expected.

Registered Nurse (RN)Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)Nurse Practitioner (NP)
Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree Master's degree Master's or doctoral degree
Education Field of Study Nursing Nursing Nursing
Training Required None Optional 1-year post-graduate fellowship Optional 1-year post-graduate fellowship
Licensure and/or Certification RN licensure; board certification in cardiac-vascular nursing is available RN licensure; professional certification is available RN licensure; professional certification is available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 16%* 16% for registered nurses* 35%*
Median Salary $67,490 (2015)* $98,997 (2017)** $100,827 (2017)**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Salary.com

What Does a Cardiology Nurse Do?

A cardiology nurse, more commonly called a cardiac or cardiovascular nurse, is a registered nurse (RN) who has received advanced training or education in nursing specific to cardiology. As a cardiac nurse, you would provide healthcare to patients suffering from cardiovascular conditions, such as coronary disease and angina.

What Education Do I Need?

The most common educational path to becoming a registered nurse is to obtain an associate's or bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited college or university. Such programs should give you the basic technical skills, patient experience and knowledge necessary to become an RN. Generally, these programs combine informative coursework with practical experience in a clinical setting working with real doctors, nurses and patients.

If you've already earned a bachelor's degree, you can apply to a master's program in cardiac nursing, which can prepare you to work as a nurse practitioner (NP) or clinical nurse specialist (CNS). These programs typically last two years. With your graduate degree in hand, you may choose to pursue a 1-year fellowship in cardiac nursing, though this isn't necessarily required to practice as a cardiology nurse. Graduate and fellowship programs in cardiac nursing generally include training in the following:

  • Cardiomyopathies
  • Adult congenital heart disease
  • Cardiac risk and assessment
  • Cardiac devices
  • Electrocardiogram analysis
  • Anticoagulation

What Credentials Must I Have?

All 50 states require that you pass the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX- RN) in order to work as an RN, and they also establish regulations for advanced practice nurses. You can contact your state board for specific information.

Additionally, you can obtain credentialing in cardiac vascular nursing through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (www.nursecredentialing.org). Although voluntary, credentialing is regarded as a distinctive professional achievement.

How Much Might I Earn?

According to Salary.com, nurse practitioners made an annual median salary of $100,827 as of January 2017. Clinical nurse specialists made slightly less, with an annual median wage $98,997. The median annual wage for registered nurses was reported as $67,490, according to the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

The work that licensed practical nurses perform is similar to the work that registered nurses do, and the work of physician assistants is comparable to the roles of a nurse practitioner. A licensed practical nurse needs a certificate or diploma in nursing, and they provide direct care to patients. They monitor their vital signs, help them bathe, dress themselves, exercise and may help feed patients. Physician assistants perform the same duties as a nurse practitioner. They see patients, order tests, review the test results, diagnose the patient and develop a treatment plan. They can also prescribe medication.

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