How to Become a Cardiac Care Nurse:
The Definitive Guide

A nurse is a special person, and a Cardiac Care Nurse treats people with heart issues, so they might be the most special of all.

If you are looking for a rewarding job with great benefits, and you love to take care of people, then a Cardiac Care Nurse might be the right career for you.

A Cardiac Care Nurse works closely with patients to help with heart problems such as coronary artery disease, angina, and congestive heart failure.

Do you think you’ve got the heart to help people with theirs?

If so, keep reading.

What is a Cardiac Care Nurse?

A Cardiac Care Nurse works closely with a cardiologist in order to take care of patients who are suffering from heart issues.

Some of the conditions that a Cardiac Care Nurse helps to treat include patients who are recovering from heart attacks or have gone through bypass surgery.

A Cardiac Care Nurse will monitor the patient, administer heart medications, and perform stress evaluations on a regular basis.

They will also take care of any urgent heart issues and assist with things like defibrillation.

Cardiac Care Nurses are on their feet for many hours of the day, so they have to be energetic, fast-paced, and ready to jump to action.


Cardiac Care Nurses are responsible for assisting immediate heart issues as well as helping with the recovery of past heart issues.

Some of the things that you can expect to do in a day’s work as a Cardiac Care Nurse include:

  • Administer medication
  • Insert and remove IVs
  • Perform stress tests
  • Treat chronic heart conditions
  • Monitor defibrillator
  • Provide post-op care


The average Cardiac Care Nurse in the United States will make around $70,000 a year.

Some Cardiac Care Nurses, typically those that are just starting out in the career, will make around $65,000 a year.

With much experience, education, and certifications, it is possible for a Cardiac Care Nurse to make up to $76,000 a year.

There are a few things to consider when it comes to the range in salary, for instance, a Cardiac Care Nurse that has worked in the business for 20 or more years will typically make more than someone who just started six months ago.

Also, people that work in larger cities will make more money than those who work in smaller towns.

  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

Annually National Average Salary: $77,460


Average Annual Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$94,820
New Hampshire$73,880
New Jersey$84,280
New Mexico$73,300
New York$87,840
North Carolina$66,440
North Dakota$66,290
Rhode Island$82,310
South Carolina$64,840
South Dakota$59,540
West Virginia$63,220
Puerto Rico$35,040
Virgin Islands$68,500

Annual Average Salary: Top 5 States

The top earning state in the field is California, where the average salary is $113,240.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

California - $113,240
Hawaii - $104,060
District of Columbia - $94,820
Massachusetts - $93,160
Oregon - $92,960
* Employment conditions in your area may vary. * Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey.
Conducted by: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor.

How to Become a Cardiac Care Nurse

Step 1Earn a Bachelors's Degree

In order to become a Cardiac Care Nurse, you must hold a Bachelors’s degree in nursing.

There are several nursing programs around the country, and although there may be a waiting list at the school you’d like to go to, it’s important to obtain a degree.

Some of the classes that you can expect to take for a nursing degree may include:

  • Anatomy
  • Microbiology
  • Nutrition
  • Chemistry
  • Psychology
  • Nursing Practices and Theory

While you are in school, it is also a good time to think about doing an internship or working clinics so that you can gain experience in the field.

Clinicals will allow you to have on the job experience while learning in the classroom.

Internships also give you real-world experience on the job, but also give you a step up when it comes time to find a career.

Step 2Obtain a Master's Degree

Yes, you’ll have to go to graduate school in order to become a Cardiac Care Nurse.

A Cardiac Care Nurse is considered an advanced Nurse Practitioner, or Clinical Nurse Specialist, so the career needs extra education.

There are several different types of concentrations that can help you in your quest to become a Cardiac Care Nurse.

These concentrations include:

  • MS in Nursing, Cardiac Care
  • MS Nursing, Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • MS Nursing, Cardiovascular health
  • MS Nursing, Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Cardiac Care Concentration

Most nursing programs require students to take courses like:

  • Advanced Physiology
  • Advanced Pharmacology
  • Nursing Management of Cardiac Patients in Critical Care
  • Advanced Health Assessment
  • Project Planning
  • Population Health

It may also be possible to study further specialization that could be:

  • Cardiothoracic intensive care
  • Coronary care
  • Interventional cardiology
  • Heart Failure

The choice is yours when it comes to which specialization you choose.

Ask yourself what speaks to you, and what you desire to do for the rest of your career.

Cardiac Care Nurses provide excellent care to patients and need special certifications as well.

Step 3Get Certified

After you gain your Master’s degree, its time to become certified in either Adult Cardiac Medicine or Adult Cardiac Surgery.

The American Heart Association of Critical Care Nurses offers both of these certifications that are provided through taking an exam.

The Adult Cardiac Medicine certification is for nurses who work in areas of critical care.

The Adult Cardiac Surgery certification is for nurses who work in cardiovascular surgery.

In order to be eligible for either exam, you must:

  • Hold a current RN license in the United States
  • Be certified in a clinical nursing specialty
  • 1,750 hours of care for acutely or critically ill patients

The American Association of Heart Failure Nurses offers certification as a Certified Heart Failure Nurse.

In order to be eligible for this certification, you’ll need to:

  • Hold a current RN license in the United States
  • Work as an RN for 2 years
  • Have at least 1,200 clinical hours
  • 30 hours of completed education

The American Board of Cardiovascular Medicine certifies nurses through certifications like:

  • CVRN Level 1- Non-Acute Cardiology Care
  • CVRN Level 2- Acute Cardiology Care
  • CVRN Level 3- Catheterization Laboratory Nurse

The American Nursing Credentialing Center offers certifications like:

  • Cardiac-Vascular Nursing


The career of a Cardiac Care Nurse is specialized, and therefore should be accompanied by at least a Master’s degree.

First, a person who wants to become a Cardiac Care Nurse must have a Bachelors’s degree in Nursing.

This is the first and most important step in your education.

Some of the courses that you can expect to take in a nursing program include:

  • Bioethics
  • Fundamentals of Microbiology
  • Nursing research
  • Nursing care of the older adult
  • Public health nursing

Along with classroom work, you’ll need to do clinical in order to learn as much as you can about being a nurse.

Clinicals give you on the job experience working as a nurse while also going to school at the same time.

Many schools require that their students do a clinical as a part of their program.

There are others who allow internships through the program as well.

An internship may allow students to experience what it’s like to work as a nurse under supervision while going to school.

They also may be able to make money through an internship.

After you obtain a Bachelors’s degree, you’ll need to become a registered nurse.

This is done by taking and passing the NCLEX-RN exam.

The test has around 119 questions and must be completed in 6 hours.

The passing rate for this exam is around 75%.

As a registered nurse, you can have a very lucrative career.

However, there are some people who enjoy working as a Cardiac Care Nurse and will have to get a Master’s degree.

It’s possible to get a Master’s degree in several different areas.

These include:

  • Preventative Cardiac Nursing
  • Critical Care Nursing
  • Cardiovascular Nursing

Within a Masters degree program, a Cardiac Care Nurse can expect to take classes like:

  • Vascular Disease
  • Advanced Pharmacology
  • Adult Congenital Cardiac Disease
  • Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Cardiac Health and Performance

Video About The Career


Cardiac Care Nurses that have completed a Master’s level education are eligible for several different types of certifications.

These certifications depend on the specialization that the Cardiac Care Nurse wishes to get into.

These certifications come from several different associations.

The American Association of Critical Care Nurses offers the Adult Cardiac Medicine Certification and the Adult Cardiac Surgery certification.

The Adult Cardiac Medicine certification is designed for those who would like to work with people in critical care situations.

The Adult Cardiac Surgery certification is designed for those interested in cardiac surgery.

With the Adult Cardiac Medicine certification, you’ll be able to work in heart failure clinics, catheterization labs, and electrophysiology.

With the Adult Cardiac Surgery certification, you’ll be able to work in places like operating rooms, post-anesthesia care units, and also provide after surgery care.

To sit for either of these examinations, you’ll need:

  • A current RN license in the US
  • Certification through the National Commission for Certifying Agencies or the American Board of Nursing Specialties
  • 1,750 hours of experience

The American Nursing Credential Center offers the Cardiac-Vascular Nursing certification.

In order to be eligible for this exam, you must:

  • Hold a current RN license
  • Have 2 years of full-time work experience
  • Have at least 2,000 hours of clinical practice in cardiac care
  • Complete 30 hours of continuing education

This exam is online and lasts around 90 minutes.

The Cardiac-Vascular Nursing certification must be renewed every five years.

Another certification, through the American Association of Heart Failure Nurses, called the Certified Heart Failure Nurse can be achieved as well.

Eligible nurses looking for this certification must:

  • Hold an active RN license
  • Work as an RN for at least two years
  • Have at least 1,200 clinical hours
  • 30 hours of completed education

There may be other certifications provided through a school program or employer.

Certification Example:

Cardiac Care Nurse Certificate

Average Training Program Duration: 4+ Years

The average training program duration can vary depending on the nursing program and the Master’s degree program.

Some nursing programs only take a couple of years, while others provide a Bachelors’s degree in the end.

A Bachelors’s degree can take around four years to complete.

A Master’s degree requires another two years of education to complete.

It can take around six years, plus work experience, to become a Cardiac Care Nurse.

Popular Degree Programs

Job Outlook

The job outlook for a Cardiac Care Nurse will continue to rise for the next ten years.

Nurses are needed in all types of facilities.

From hospitals to doctors’ offices and outpatient care centers, the nursing professional will be around for a long time.

The estimated job growth for a Cardiac Care Nurse is around 12 percent for the next ten years.

The need to replace workers and the need for medical care staff allows for this career to sky rocket.

Financial pressure from hospitals and insurance also requires some patients to go to long term care facilities, allowing for more jobs for Cardiac Care Nurses.

* The numbers are based on all registered nurses and are not exclusive to cardiac care nurses.

Employment Growth Projection: 12%


That's a higher than average projected growth of 371,500 jobs.

Should You Become a Cardiac Care Nurse?

Overall Satisfaction

Overall Satisfaction: High

Many Cardiac Care Nurses enjoy their jobs fully.

Though there may be long hours and some stressful situations, getting to know patients personally and caring for others is a large part of the job.

Depending on the facility that you work in, the hours of a Cardiac Care Nurse can change the satisfaction of work hours.

For example, Cardiac Care Nurses that work in hospitals typically feel their hours are more stressful than those who work in outpatient or long term care facilities.

Average Salary

Average Salary: High

The average salary for a Cardiac Care Nurse is around $70,000 in the United States.

Cardiac Care Nurses who are just starting out in the career and do not have as much experience will typically make around $65,000 a year.

Nurses that have been experienced in the career and/or that work in larger hospitals in more populated areas can make around $76,000 a year.

The range in salary depends on many things, experience, certifications, and education are the top three.

Job Growth Outlook

Job Growth Outlook: High

It is almost guaranteed that there will always be a need for nurses.

With heart disease as the number one killer in the United States, Cardiac Care Nurses are needed now more than ever.

The career will likely grow around 12 percent in the next ten years.

Many different types of facilities will need Cardiac Care Nurses, from hospitals to long term care facilities.

There will also be growth in outpatient care centers, where patients do not have to stay the night.

This means that there will be more jobs available as more outpatient care centers fill up.

Education Duration

Education Duration: 4+ Years

A typical Bachelors’s degree nursing program can take around four years to complete.

Then, a Cardiac Care Nurse must hold a Master’s degree.

This can take another two years to complete, plus the work experience needed in order to fulfill career requirements.

Depending on the program, it can take up to six years to become a Cardiac Care Nurse.

With more education, it’s possible to find more lucrative employment in the future.

Personal Skills Needed

Personal Skills Needed

Not everyone is cut out to be a nurse, so you will want to make sure that you have these traits in order to do great in a career like Cardiac Care Nurse:

  • Incredible listening skills
  • Social perceptiveness
  • Complex problem-solving skills
  • Good written and oral communication
  • Quality control analysis ability
  • Math and science skills
  • Decision-making skills
  • Coordination
  • Time management skills

As a Cardiac Care Nurse, you’ll need to be able to adapt to different situations and keep your calm at all times.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is the average salary of a Cardiac Care Nurse?

In the United States, the average salary for a Cardiac Care Nurse is around $70,000 a year.

When just starting out as a Cardiac Care Nurse, a typical salary is around $65,000 a year.

With education, experience, certifications, and specializations it’s possible to make $76,000 a year or more.

The location of the place of employment and the amount of education and experience have a lot to do with the salary for a Cardiac Care Nurse.

Q. How long does it take to become a Cardiac Care Nurse?

First, you must finish a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program so that you know all the fundamental skills of being a nurse.

After graduation, it’s necessary to register as a nurse.

Then, you’ll need some work experience and eventually a Master’s degree.

This can take several years, up to ten or more, to complete.

Most Bachelor’s degree programs take around four years to complete.

A Master’s degree can take another two years.

Add those to years of work experience, and there you have it.

Q. What does a Cardiac Care Nurse do?

A Cardiac Care Nurse is a very important piece of the medical team.

A nurse is someone that takes care of patients and gives them medication, helps with injuries, provides bedside care, and much more.

As a Cardiac Care Nurse, you’ll be working closely with patients who have heart issues.

Some patients may have just had a heart attack or come from bypass surgery.

Giving them care and attention is of the utmost importance to a Cardiac Care Nurse.

Q. What is the demand for Cardiac Care Nurses?

There are a couple of different reasons why Cardiac Care Nurses are in such high demand.

First, the baby boomer generation is growing older, which unfortunately means that more people are going to need medical care, especially for heart-related issues.

Plus, advancements in technology have made it possible for new jobs as a Cardiac Care Nurse.

This career is in demand, and always will be.

Q. How much does it cost to become a Cardiac Care Nurse?

Depending on which type of university is attended, it can take around $18,000 to $50,000 to complete a Bachelors’s degree.

Then, another $50,000 to gain a Master’s degree.

The certifications and registration to become a nurse can cost another $500 each.

Recertification every couple of years can cost another $500.

All in all, it can cost over $100,000 to become a Cardiac Care Nurse.

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