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How To Become a Cardiac Nurse

Cardiac nurses specialize in caring for patients with cardiovascular problems, such as congestive heart failure and angina.  These nurses work with cardiologists to use their specialized training and education to care for these delicate patients.  Cardiac nurses provide both pre- and post-operative care, educate the patient as to how to manage their condition and recovery, work with electrocardiograms and defibrillators, and work frequently with life support.

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Cardiac Nursing College Education and Training Requirements

All cardiac nurses are registered nurses (RN).  There are several paths to becoming an RN.  Some nurses will get a bachelor of science in Nursing (BSN) degree at an accredited four-year college or university.  Others will pursue an associates degree in nursing at a junior or community college.  Still others will get a registered nursing diploma through a vocational or technical school, but diploma programs are less common.  After completing the level of education you choose at an approved nursing program, you will need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed. 

After becoming an RN, you'll want to seek work in a cardiac-focused environment and start your career as a cardiac nurse.  Many will go on to actually become certified as a cardiac nurse to pursue greater responsibility and pay.  Certification is available through the American Nurses Credentialling Center.  The certification requires 2,000 clinical hours in a cardiac nursing setting and 30 hours of ongoing education in cardiac nursing.

Cardiac Nursing Job Outlook and Salary

Like all registered nurses, cardiac nurses are in high demand.  In fact, due to the prevalence and fatality rates of heart disease, there may be more growth in cardiac nursing than many other specialized fields.  According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for a registered nurse was $62,450.  Those with more education or certification will stand to make more.  The top 10% were making over $92,000 annually.


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