Cardiologist Career Guide 2024

Table of Contents

Cardiologist Salary in United States for 2023

Average Annual Salary: $239,200 Hourly Rate: $115

Data sourced from the U.S. Department of Labor via the ONET Web API. Updated at December 8, 2023

Best Colleges and Universities for Cardiologists in 2023

Best Online Degree Programs for Cardiologist

Best College Majors for Cardiologists in 2023

Projected Job Employment for Cardiologist:

Estimated YearProjected YearEstimated EmploymentProjected Employment% ChangeProjected Annual Job Opening

Cardiologist Career Path Overview

A career as a cardiologist can be incredibly rewarding and fulfilling, providing opportunities to make a significant impact on patients' lives by diagnosing and treating heart conditions. However, this path requires a high level of dedication and long-term commitment, as it involves extensive education and training.

Education Requirements

The journey to becoming a cardiologist begins with a strong educational foundation. After completing high school, prospective cardiologists need to obtain a Bachelor's degree in a relevant field such as biology, chemistry, or physics. This is typically a four-year program. Following the Bachelor’s degree, they must attend medical school for another four years, culminating in obtaining a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. Medical school provides comprehensive training in various medical disciplines and equips students with the theoretical knowledge and practical skills they will need as physicians.

Residency and Fellowship

After graduating from medical school, the next step is to complete a residency program in internal medicine. This program usually lasts three years and provides hands-on training under the supervision of experienced physicians. It allows students to gain experience in diagnosing and managing a wide range of health conditions. Once the residency is completed, physicians aspiring to specialize in cardiology must undertake a fellowship program in the field. This specialized training typically lasts three years and focuses exclusively on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Some cardiologists may choose to further specialize in areas such as interventional cardiology, cardiac electrophysiology, or heart failure and transplantation by completing additional years of fellowship.

Licensing and Certification

All cardiologists must be licensed to practice medicine in their respective states. This involves passing the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) for MDs or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA) for DOs. In addition to state licensure, cardiologists can choose to become board-certified. This requires passing an examination administered by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) after completing the cardiology fellowship. Board certification demonstrates a high level of expertise in cardiology and is often sought by employers.

Career Prospects and Advancement

The demand for cardiologists is projected to grow in the coming years due to the aging population and the increasing prevalence of heart diseases. Cardiologists can work in various settings, including hospitals, private practices, and academic institutions. With experience, cardiologists have opportunities for career advancement. They can become senior physicians or department heads, or they can choose to focus on research or teaching. Some cardiologists may also opt to open their own private practice. In summary, becoming a cardiologist requires a long journey of education and training, but it offers rewarding career prospects with opportunities to make a significant difference in patients' lives.

Cardiologist Career Path Education and Training

The journey to becoming a cardiologist begins with a strong foundation in science and mathematics during high school. This is followed by a series of formal education requirements and clinical experiences that prepare aspiring cardiologists for this demanding yet rewarding career.

Undergraduate Education

The first step on the cardiologist career path is earning a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. Although no specific major is required, many students choose to study pre-med or a related field such as biology, chemistry, or physics. This provides them with the necessary background in the life and physical sciences that will be essential in their further studies. It's also important during this time to maintain a high GPA and gain experience through internships or research opportunities to become competitive candidates for medical school.

Medical School

After earning a bachelor's degree, the next step is to attend medical school, which usually takes four years to complete. The first two years typically involve coursework in anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, and medical ethics. The last two years are dedicated to rotations in different areas of medicine, including cardiology, where students have the chance to apply their knowledge in a real-world setting under the supervision of experienced doctors. To get into medical school, students must pass the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and submit their transcripts and letters of recommendation. Some medical schools may also require interviews.


After graduating from medical school, students enter a residency program where they receive specialized training in internal medicine. This typically lasts three years and involves working in hospitals or clinics under the supervision of experienced physicians. Residents learn to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions and develop their skills in patient care, medical procedures, and professional behavior.

Fellowship in Cardiology

Following the residency, those who wish to specialize in cardiology must complete a fellowship program. This usually lasts three years and provides in-depth training in diagnosing and treating cardiovascular diseases. Fellows gain experience in areas such as cardiac catheterization, echocardiography, and electrophysiology.

Board Certification

Once the fellowship is completed, cardiologists can become board certified by passing an examination administered by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). This certification demonstrates that the cardiologist has met nationally recognized standards for education, knowledge, experience, and skills in the field of cardiology.

Continuing Education

To maintain their certification, cardiologists must engage in ongoing professional development and education throughout their careers. This includes staying up-to-date with the latest research and advancements in cardiology and completing a certain number of continuing medical education (CME) hours every year. In conclusion, the path to becoming a cardiologist is long and rigorous, requiring a significant investment of time and effort. However, the rewards – both personal and professional – can make it a fulfilling career choice for those with a passion for heart health.

Cardiologist Career Path Progression

If you're considering a career in cardiology, it's important to understand the path of progression. It's a long, rigorous journey that requires dedication, hard work, and a genuine passion for healthcare. However, the rewards are immense. As a cardiologist, you have the opportunity to make a significant impact on patients' lives by diagnosing and treating heart conditions.

Education and Training

The first step towards becoming a cardiologist is obtaining a Bachelor's degree. This undergraduate study typically focuses on pre-med or science-related fields such as biology, chemistry, or physics. Following undergraduate studies, aspiring cardiologists must complete medical school. During these four years of intensive training, students learn about the human body and diseases, with the final two years primarily focused on clinical rotations in various medical specialties.

Residency and Fellowship

After graduating from medical school, the next step is a three-year residency in internal medicine. This period provides in-depth training in patient care and medical procedures under the supervision of experienced physicians. Upon completion of an internal medicine residency, you'll need to undertake further specialized training in cardiology through a fellowship program. These programs typically last three years and offer comprehensive training in diagnosing and treating cardiovascular diseases.

Board Certification

Once the fellowship is complete, cardiologists can seek board certification through the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM). Board certification is not mandatory but highly recommended as it demonstrates your expertise in the field and can enhance your professional reputation.

Career Advancement

Career advancement in cardiology often involves sub-specialization in areas such as interventional cardiology, electrophysiology, or pediatric cardiology. This requires additional fellowships and can lead to more specialized, higher paying positions. Cardiologists may also choose to advance their careers by taking on leadership roles, such as becoming the head of a cardiology department or even opening their own private practice.

Continuing Education

Continuing education is crucial in the field of cardiology, given the rapid advances in medical technology and treatment methods. Cardiologists are expected to keep up with the latest research, techniques, and guidelines to provide the best possible care for their patients. This often involves attending conferences, seminars, and training sessions, as well as reading medical journals and publications. In conclusion, the cardiologist career path progression is a rigorous and demanding journey that requires intense training and a commitment to lifelong learning. However, it's a rewarding career that offers ample opportunities for growth and specialization.

Cardiologist Career Path Specializations and Subfields

As a cardiologist, you have the opportunity to delve into a variety of specializations and subfields. Each of these areas offers unique challenges and rewards, allowing you to tailor your career to your specific interests and strengths.

Interventional Cardiology

If you are fascinated by the prospect of performing procedures to diagnose or treat heart disease, interventional cardiology could be a fitting specialization for you. Interventional cardiologists are skilled in procedures such as angioplasty and stent placement, which can be life-saving for patients with blocked arteries. This field requires a high degree of technical skill, as well as the ability to make quick decisions under pressure.


Electrophysiology is a subfield that focuses on the heart's electrical system and on treating irregular heart rhythms. As an electrophysiologist, you would implant pacemakers and defibrillators, perform ablations to correct abnormal heart rhythms, and provide care for patients with arrhythmias. A strong understanding of the intricate electrical pathways of the heart is crucial in this specialization.

Cardiac Imaging

Cardiac imaging is a crucial tool in diagnosing and monitoring heart disease. Cardiologists specializing in this area use advanced imaging technologies like echocardiography, cardiac CT, and cardiac MRI to visualize the heart and its blood vessels. This field demands a keen eye for detail and an in-depth understanding of both the structure of the heart and the technology used to image it.

Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology

If you are drawn to working with critically ill patients, consider specializing in heart failure and transplant cardiology. In this field, you'll manage patients with advanced heart failure, help determine their suitability for heart transplantation, and provide care before and after the procedure. This highly specialized field requires strong clinical skills, the ability to handle high-pressure situations, and a compassionate approach to patient care.

Pediatric Cardiology

Pediatric cardiologists specialize in diagnosing and treating heart conditions in infants, children, and adolescents. This can range from congenital heart defects to acquired heart diseases. If you have a passion for working with children and a desire to make a significant impact early in a patient's life, pediatric cardiology could be a rewarding path. Remember, no matter which specialization you choose, the path of a cardiologist requires dedication, years of training, and a commitment to continual learning. The path is challenging, but the opportunity to make a significant difference in patients' lives makes it a rewarding career choice.

Cardiologist Career Path Job Market and Outlook

The job market and outlook for cardiologists are essential factors to consider when contemplating a career in this field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that employment for physicians and surgeons, which includes cardiologists, is projected to grow 7% from 2018 to 2028. This growth rate is faster than the average for all occupations. One of the primary drivers behind this growth is the aging population. As people age, they are more likely to suffer from heart conditions and diseases, driving up the demand for cardiologists. Furthermore, advancements in technology mean that more heart conditions can be diagnosed and treated, further boosting demand for these professionals.

Job Opportunities and Locations

Job opportunities for cardiologists are abundant across the United States. They can work in various settings such as hospitals, private practices, outpatient clinics, and universities. Cities with large populations and high rates of heart disease often have a higher demand for cardiologists. However, the job market for cardiologists isn't limited to urban areas. Rural areas often struggle with physician shortages, including cardiologists. Therefore, cardiologists who are willing to practice in these underserved areas may find ample job opportunities.

Job Security and Salaries

Given the constant demand for healthcare services and the specialized nature of cardiology, job security in this profession is relatively high. Cardiologists also tend to earn high salaries due to their extensive education and training requirements. As of May 2020, the median annual wage for physicians and surgeons was equal to or greater than $208,000, according to the BLS. However, salaries can vary based on factors such as experience, location, and specialization.

The Future of Cardiology

The future of cardiology looks promising due to several emerging trends. One trend is the increasing use of telemedicine, which allows cardiologists to consult with patients remotely. This technology can expand access to cardiology services, especially in rural areas. Another trend is the growing focus on preventive care. As more people seek to maintain heart health and prevent disease, the role of cardiologists in prevention and education is likely to grow. Lastly, advancements in technology and treatment methods continue to shape the field of cardiology. These advancements not only improve patient outcomes but also create new opportunities for cardiologists to specialize and advance their careers. In conclusion, the job market and outlook for cardiologists are positive due to factors such as an aging population, technological advancements, and evolving healthcare trends. Those considering a career in cardiology can look forward to ample job opportunities, high job security, and the chance to make a significant impact on patients' lives.

Cardiologist Career Path Salary and Compensation

A career in cardiology can be both personally rewarding and financially lucrative. Cardiologists are among the highest paid physicians, reflecting the rigorous training, extensive knowledge, and high-stakes decision-making that their job demands. The earning potential for a cardiologist largely depends on a number of factors including location, years of experience, sub-specialty, and the type of practice they're associated with. However, to give you a basic understanding of what you can expect in terms of salary and compensation as a cardiologist, let's delve into some specifics.

Average Salary

As per the Medscape Cardiologist Compensation Report 2020, the average annual salary for a cardiologist in the United States was around $438,000. It is important to note that this average encompasses both non-invasive and invasive cardiologists. Invasive cardiologists typically earn more due to the additional procedures they perform.

Starting Salary

When just starting out after completing fellowship training, cardiologists can expect a lower salary as they build their practice and reputation. As per data from, the average starting salary for a cardiologist in the United States is around $272,000 annually.

Experienced Cardiologist Salary

As cardiologists gain experience and establish themselves in their field, their earning potential significantly increases. After 5-10 years of practice, cardiologists can expect to earn upwards of $500,000 annually. Those who have been practicing for 20 years or more may even reach salaries exceeding $600,000.

Sub-Specialty and Practice Type

Sub-specialties within cardiology can also affect earning potential. Interventional cardiologists who perform procedures like angioplasties and stent placements typically earn more than general cardiologists. Similarly, electrophysiologists, who specialize in heart rhythm disorders, also tend to have higher earning potential. Furthermore, the type of practice can impact compensation. Cardiologists in private practice generally earn more than those in academic settings. However, academic cardiologists often have other forms of compensation like research funding and teaching opportunities.

Benefits and Perks

Beyond the base salary, cardiologists often receive additional benefits and perks. These may include health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, professional development allowances, and performance bonuses. Some employers may even offer relocation assistance or sign-on bonuses. In conclusion, while the path to becoming a cardiologist is long and demanding, it offers a high earning potential and a rewarding career improving patients' heart health.

Cardiologist Career Path Tips for Success

Navigating a career path in cardiology requires a combination of dedication, hard work, strategic planning, and ongoing education. Here are some key tips for achieving success in this challenging and rewarding medical specialty.

Educational Excellence

The journey to becoming a cardiologist begins with a strong foundation in education. Earn a bachelor's degree in pre-medicine or a related science field, then proceed to medical school to earn your Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. Afterward, complete a three-year residency in internal medicine, followed by a three-year fellowship in cardiology. This rigorous educational path not only equips you with the necessary knowledge and skills but also demonstrates your commitment to the field.

Board Certification

Following your fellowship, become board-certified in cardiology by passing the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Cardiovascular Disease Certification Exam. This certification validates your expertise and can significantly enhance your reputation in the field. It's also important to maintain your certification through continuous learning and periodic retesting.

Clinical Experience

Gaining as much clinical experience as possible during your residency and fellowship is crucial. The more hands-on experience you have diagnosing and treating cardiovascular conditions, performing procedures like angioplasty or pacemaker insertion, and managing patient care, the better prepared you'll be for your career as a cardiologist.


Consider subspecializing to further differentiate yourself in the field. There are several subspecialties within cardiology, such as interventional cardiology, cardiac electrophysiology, or heart failure and transplantation. Each requires an additional one to three years of fellowship training.

Research and Publications

Engaging in research and publishing your findings in reputable medical journals can significantly boost your career. It not only demonstrates your expertise and dedication to advancing the field, but also makes you more attractive to potential employers.

Networking and Professional Development

Join professional organizations like the American College of Cardiology (ACC) to network with other professionals in your field. Attend conferences and seminars to stay up-to-date with the latest research and advancements in cardiology. Such activities can provide valuable learning opportunities, foster professional relationships, and open doors to career advancement.

Communication Skills

Good communication skills are vital for a successful cardiologist career. You need to be able to explain complex medical conditions and treatments to patients in a way they can understand, as well as effectively communicate with colleagues, nurses, and other healthcare professionals. Remember, success in the field of cardiology doesn't happen overnight; it requires ongoing effort, continuous learning, and a passion for improving cardiovascular health. By following these tips, you can navigate your cardiologist career path with confidence and achieve your professional goals.

What is the Career Path of a Cardiologist?

The career path of a cardiologist starts with obtaining a Bachelor's degree, typically in a science-related field such as biology or chemistry. Following this, aspiring cardiologists must attend medical school to earn their Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree. This is usually a four-year program where students learn about all aspects of medicine, with specific focus on the cardiovascular system in the final years. After medical school, graduates then need to complete a residency program in internal medicine, which typically takes three years. Upon completing the residency, they must pass the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) exam to become board-certified in internal medicine. The next step involves a fellowship in cardiology, which can take anywhere from three to six years depending on the sub-specialty chosen. During this time, fellows gain specialized knowledge and skills in diagnosing and treating heart conditions. After completing the fellowship, they are eligible to take the ABIM Cardiovascular Disease exam to become board-certified cardiologists.

What Skills are Needed to be a Cardiologist?

Becoming a successful cardiologist requires several key skills. First and foremost is medical knowledge, particularly in relation to the cardiovascular system. Cardiologists must be proficient in diagnosing and treating various heart diseases and conditions. In addition to medical knowledge, excellent communication skills are crucial. Cardiologists need to effectively communicate complex medical information to patients, their families, and other healthcare professionals. They should also have strong interpersonal skills as they often work with a team of healthcare providers. Problem-solving and critical thinking skills are also important for cardiologists. They often have to make quick decisions in high-pressure situations that can significantly impact patient outcomes. Moreover, they need good manual dexterity for performing procedures like angioplasty or inserting pacemakers.

What is the Job Outlook for a Cardiologist?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for physicians and surgeons, which include cardiologists, is quite positive. The BLS projects a 4% growth rate from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Factors contributing to this growth include an aging population, which increases the demand for healthcare services. Heart disease remains a leading cause of death in the U.S., further driving the need for cardiologists.

What are the Advancement Opportunities for a Cardiologist?

Cardiologists have various advancement opportunities depending on their interests and goals. Some may choose to further specialize in areas such as interventional cardiology, electrophysiology, or pediatric cardiology, each offering unique challenges and rewards. Others may decide to take on leadership roles within their medical institutions, becoming department heads or even hospital administrators. There are also opportunities in academic medicine, where cardiologists can teach future doctors or conduct research to advance the field of cardiology.

What is the Work Environment Like for a Cardiologist?

Cardiologists typically work in hospitals, private practices, or academic medical centers. Their work can be both physically and emotionally demanding as they may need to stand for long periods during procedures and deal with life-threatening situations. Despite the challenges, many cardiologists find their work extremely rewarding. They have the opportunity to make a significant impact on their patients' lives by improving their heart health and potentially saving lives.