Cardiac Rehabilitation Salary and Career Facts

Find out career options in the field of cardiac rehabilitation, which can include nursing, physical therapy and nutritional counseling. 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.

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?

You can expect substantial job growth in the field of cardiac rehabilitation, as an aging American population will stimulate the need for medical care. If you choose to become a physical therapist, you could earn a mean annual wage of about $78,000, based on the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate for 2010. As a nutritionist or dietician you could expect to earn about $54,000, the mean wage for 2010. For a registered nurse, the mean wage was slightly less than $68,000 annually in 2010. (www.bls.gov)

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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