Cardiac Nurse: Career and Salary Facts

Read on to learn about the education and licensure required to specialize as a cardiac nurse, and check the potential salary for working in this specialized field. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Cardiac Nurse?

A cardiac nurse is a registered nurse who specializes in cardiovascular diseases and treatments. As a cardiac nurse, you'll generally work in conjunction with cardiovascular physicians or surgeons to treat patients who have chronic heart problems or have recently had heart surgery. Specializing in such a specific area of nursing, you will likely work in the cardiac care department of a hospital or in a specialty clinic.

What Type of Education Do I Need?

In order to become a cardiac nurse, you need a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN), an associate's degree in nursing (ASN) or a nursing diploma from a hospital training program. A bachelor's degree program will generally take four years to complete. However, if you already hold a bachelor's degree in another field, you could enter an accelerated BSN program and obtain your nursing degree in 2-3 years. While nursing diploma programs are relatively rare, a large number of associate's degree programs are available. You can usually complete your Associate of Science in Nursing degree program within 2-3 years.

Most nursing education programs combine classroom and clinical training, so you'll be able to get some field experience during your academic career. Some courses specific are to cardiac nursing during your education, but in order to become a cardiac nurse you will likely enroll in a cardiac training program once you have obtained your nursing license. These programs can help you acquire specialized knowledge and skill in cardiovascular treatment.

Do I Need a License?

In order to practice nursing in any state, you need to obtain your license by passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). After submitting an application to your state's board of nursing, you receive an authorization to test and will be eligible to sit for the 6-hour exam. Generally, each state requires that you hold a 2-year degree or nursing diploma, but education requirements may vary.

In addition to education and exam requirements, states may have additional requirements for licensure. New York State, for instance, requires that you complete training in a child abuse reporting and identification program before obtaining your license. Your state's board of nursing will be able to provide information on any specific requirements.

How Much Could I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2010, most registered nurses made between $44,190 and $95,130 annually. The salaries varied depending on years of experience, location and work environment. Registered nurses working in hospitals, the most likely location for a cardiac nurse to work, made an average annual salary of $68,610 in that same year (www.bls.gov).

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