Cardiovascular Nursing

Learn about the many opportunities in cardiovascular nursing.

Nurse with patient in hospital

The Basics

What you’ll do: Cardiovascular nurses care for people with heart disease and interact with their patients’ families. They may monitor and treat acutely ill patients, or they may focus on cardiac rehabilitation—helping patients make lifestyle changes to prevent the worsening of their disease.

Minimum degree you’ll need to practice: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

Certification: Certification is available through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).

Median annual salary: $71,730*

Cardiovascular Nurse Career Overview

Most cardiovascular clinical nurse specialists (CNSs) work in hospitals. They care for critically ill patients, as well as those recovering from cardiac procedures such as bypass, angioplasty, or pacemaker surgery.

Cardiovascular nurses may also help patients recover at home. These critical care nurses work with children and adults of all ages, although heart disease generally affects older people. They may also work as part of a team under the direction of a cardiologist.

Here is a sampling of some of their daily responsibilities:

  • Assessing and treating patients
  • Providing postoperative care
  • Monitoring stress test evaluations
  • Monitoring cardiac and vascular readings
  • Educating patients and their families
  • Supporting patient lifestyle changes

Cardiovascular Nurse Education

Cardiovascular nurses, also called cardiac nurses or cardiac/vascular nurses, are registered nurses (RNs). Although earning a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the best way to advance your career, you can become an RN with a 2-year associate’s degree or a 2- to 3-year hospital diploma program.

To take the cardiac/vascular nurse certification exam, you must complete a minimum amount of continuing education in the field, plus at least 2,000 hours of clinical practice. This certification is available through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). Certification is required in many states and recommended in the others.

You may also consider completing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree to become a cardiovascular clinical nurse specialist (CNS). This will require at least two years of graduate study, as well as recognition by your state board of nursing as an advanced practice nurse (APN).

Cardiovascular Nurse Career Outlook

There is currently a demand for a cardiovascular clinical nurse specialists (CNS). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ current Occupational Outlook Handbook, registered nursing is expected to grow 12 percent through 2028, which is much faster than average. With the aging of the population and rapid advances in cardiac care technology, opportunities in the field of cardiovascular nursing are growing exponentially.

Sources: Nursing Spectrum; U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018-19 Occupational Outlook Handbook; Registered Nurses.

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.

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