How to Become a Cardiac Rehabilitation Therapist

Read on and explore the work of a cardiac rehabilitation therapist. Learn about the education requirements, training and certification, career facts and salary information. Schools offering Rehabilitation Sciences degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Cardiac Rehabilitation Therapist: Career Information at a Glance

Cardiac rehabilitation is a medical treatment program for patients who have experienced a heart attack, heart surgery, heart failure or angioplasty. It provides education, counseling and exercise programs for patients to get back on track. A cardiac rehabilitation therapist is part of the cardiac rehabilitation team that will provide patients with the tools needed to improve their health. In this article, you will learn how to become part of the cardiac rehabilitation team as a therapist, the requirements needed and career and salary information.

Degree RequiredDoctoral or professional degree
Education Field of Study Physical therapy
Training RequiredClinical residency program for cardiovascular and pulmonary practice
License and/or CertificationMedical license as a physical therapist and professional certification as a cardiac rehabilitation specialist
Key ResponsibilitiesReview the patient's medical history; develop a medical exercises program for the patient; record the patient's progress; coordinate with the cardiac rehabilitation team in caring for the patient
Job Growth (2018-2028)22% (much faster than average) for physical therapists*
Annual Median Salary (2018)$87,930 for physical therapists*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Educational Requirements?

After earning a bachelor's degree in physical therapy, physiology or any related field, you will then proceed toward earning a doctoral degree in physical therapy. These Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) programs typically take three years to complete, but there are DPT programs available that offer both the undergraduate degree and the doctoral degree in a 6- to 7-year program. As a physical therapy student, you must also complete a supervised 30-week clinical experience.

What Kind of Training Is Required?

The American Board of Physical Therapy Residency and Fellowship Education (ABPTRFE) offers residency and fellowship training for physical therapy graduates specializing in cardiovascular and pulmonary practice. The residency and fellowship programs offer in-depth and hands-on training in acute care and outpatient facilities. Residency programs typically take one year to complete.

What Licenses and/or Certifications Do I Need?

You need to be licensed to work as a cardiac rehabilitation therapist. You are also required to get a Certified Cardiac Rehabilitation Professional (CCRP) certification. This is the only certification approved by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR) for cardiac rehabilitation specialists. AACVPR also provides continuing education and re-certification every three years.

What Are the Key Responsibilities of a Cardiac Rehabilitation Therapist?

As a cardiac rehabilitation therapist, you will review patients' medical histories and develop medical exercise programs for patients. You will be monitoring your patients' progress, diagnose their movements and functions and record their progress. You will be part of the cardiac rehabilitation team and will also provide education and consultation for patients.

Where Can I Work and How Much Is the Salary?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapists earned a median salary of $87,930 annually, or $42.27 hourly, as of 2018. Many cardiac rehabilitation therapists work in clinics and outpatient centers. Others work in hospitals, nursing care facilities and home healthcare facilities. Some are self-employed and can work in patients' homes.

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