How to Become a Cardiologist
Cardiologist Careers & Degrees

Are you a person that enjoys to have excitement and challenging experiences everyday while helping others through healthcare? If you are, you may want to consider what it takes to become a cardiologist .

These are physicians that have made the choice to specialize in cardiology as their lifelong emphasis in medicine.

Cardiologists diagnose and treat disorders related to the heart and cardiovascular system in the human body.

Some cardiologists perform hands-on interventions while others may only see patients in their office, the choice is up to the individual practicing physician.

These physicians are considered to be in a specialty; they may be called upon to consult with another doctor as an expert in their field.

Many practicing cardiologists work in a group with rotating call, depending on the needs of the location.

Education Requirements to Become a Cardiologist

The path to become a cardiologist involves a long-term commitment in terms of education.

All physicians go through a four year baccalaureate program, four years of medical school and about four to six years of residency.

High school students should focus their curriculum on classes that will prepare them well for college.

Some suggestions are computer science, chemistry, biology and math.

During this time a student should also consult with different colleges to view their entrance requirements and make progress to be accepted to a four year college.

There is not a preferred college major in order to apply to a medical school.

It is important that the student choose a major that they enjoy and will do well academically.

Increasing amounts of medical students have their Bachelors degree in history, arts, computers, marketing, sociology and music.

Before applying to medical school, the proper pre-requisite courses will need to be taken to fulfill these requirements as well as taking the MCAT, doing volunteer work, research and shadowing a physician.

Contact schools offering the degree of M.D or D.O.

for their specific admission criteria.

Cardiologist Job Description

Since cardiologists are specialists in the field of medicine, their job description may be slightly different than that of a general practice physician.

Their amount of time they spend doing different duties will also be dependent on the location, public need, amount of doctors in the area and the institution they choose to work.

Typically, those who work in a group practice will rotate the responsibilities for on-call hours and coverage for their more acute patients.

Using this model a patient may see any of the doctors within the group while their regular physician may be out.

While specific duties of a cardiologist will differ from one individual to the next, here are some common items among them:

  • Perform patient assessments
  • Documenting findings in a chart
  • Consulting with other physicians
  • Manage their medical business
  • Educate patients on their medical condition
  • Order and interpret clinical tests
  • Perform treatment interventions

Cardiologists can choose to take on additional specialty training to perform cardiac catheterizations and pacemaker placement.

It is important to note that cardiologists are not surgeons; heart surgery is done by a cardiothoracic surgeon with the appropriate training.

Cardiologist Salary and Career Path

When deciding to become a cardiologist, there is no doubt that income has come into some type of discussion at some point in time.

As with any professional, the amount of money that a doctor makes will depend on the amount of cases they handle, the location, what types of insurance patients use and other responsibilities they have.

The annual median for a cardiologist is around $220, 000 a year.

The top 10% of cardiologists can earn up to $300,000 a year for their services.

Nearly all cardiologists work in patient care with a few working as educators and researchers.

Common places to work are in public and private hospitals, clinics, private practices and universities.

Similar roles to a cardiologist include:

There are many reasons to become a cardiologist: a need to help others, a need to educate others and being part of a larger healthcare system.

The educational requirements to become any type of doctor will be long and challenging, it is best to start with success in mind from the very beginning of the journey.

There are lots of cardiologists who take on-call hours which can contribute to long hours.

The profession is demanding in general, but those who can keep up with the responsibilities will be given a rewarding career.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary


Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
District of Columbia$165,080
New Hampshire$241,240
New Jersey$220,790
New Mexico$280,620
New York$188,370
North Carolina$256,000
North Dakota$266,540
Rhode Island$171,280
South Carolina$248,760
South Dakota$281,590
West Virginia$146,840
Puerto Rico$73,990

The top earning state in the field is South Dakota, where the average salary is $281,590.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

South Dakota - $281,590
New Mexico - $280,620
Wyoming - $273,570
North Dakota - $266,540
Indiana - $257,270
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for General Internal Medicine Physicians, OCC Code 29-1216, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat is a cardiologist?

Cardiologists are physicians who diagnose and treat disorders of the heart and blood vessels.

Patients with symptoms such as chest pain, heart murmurs or shortness of breath are usually referred to a cardiologist by their general practitioner.

Cardiologists counsel patients about their health risks and how to prevent them but also treat diseases such as heart attacks, heart failure, or hypertension.

Some cardiac problems may be diagnosed by a medical exam while others need additional tests, such as ECG or blood tests.

Cardiologists don’t perform heart surgeries but may do tests that require small incisions (eg. cardiac catheterization) and may put in pacemakers.

They usually work in hospitals, clinics or private practice.

Like all medical doctors, cardiologists need a special set of skills, including compassion, patience, communication skills and the willingness to help people.

As a cardiologist, you may have to work long hours in order to accommodate your patients’ needs.

QuestionHow much does a cardiologist make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage of doctors who practice internal medicine was $196,490 as of May 2018.

Salaries in this field vary widely, based on many factors, including the physician’s level of experience, his or her level of education, the employer and the region.

Cardiology is a well-paid medical specialty; experienced cardiologists can make more than $500,000 a year.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a cardiologist?

If you want to become a cardiologist you must first earn your bachelor’s degree and graduate from medical school.

A pre-med program can cost you anywhere between $15,000 and more than $60,000 a year.

In order to be able to enroll at a medical school, you must first take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test); the application fee is $315.

Medical school will cost you between $30,000 and $60,000 a year at a public school and even more at a private institution.

QuestionWhat is the demand for cardiologists?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for internists, in general, is expected to grow by 4 percent from 2018 to 2028.

Employment opportunities vary widely depending on the region and the physician’s specialty.

Job opportunities are expected to be good especially for those who specialize in diseases that affect the elderly.

If you’re willing to relocate to a rural area or a place that has difficulties in attracting physicians, you should have better job prospects.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a cardiologist?

Cardiologists need up to more than 14 years of training beyond high school before being able to practice.

This includes four years of medical school, three years of residency in internal medicine and over three years of specialized training in cardiology.

In order to be able to enroll at a medical school, you must first obtain your undergraduate degree.

A four-year pre-med college program will help you prepare for the Medical College Admission Test.

In order to become certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine, you will need 10 years of clinical and educational preparation and you must pass an exam.

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