Cardiac Nurse 2021 Salary Guide

by Maura Deering
• 5 min read

How much does a cardiac nurse make? This guide breaks down average cardiovascular nurse salaries by education level, geographic location, gender, and experience.

Cardiac Nurse 2021 Salary Guide

In This Article

Average Salary for Cardiac Nurses | Cardiac Nurse Salary Disparities by Gender | Highest-Paying and Lowest-Paying States for Cardiac Nurses | How Do Cardiac Nurse Salaries Compare to Other Nurses? | Ways to Increase Pay As a Cardiac Nurse | Frequently Asked Questions | Learn More

Cardiac nurses focus on cardiovascular health, working with cardiologists to care for patients with heart conditions and assist with surgeries. Using the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and other sources, this guide provides information on average salaries and factors that affect compensation, such as certification and education level.

We've also broken the numbers down by gender and location to compare cardiac nurse pay with other nursing specialties.

Fast Facts About Cardiac Nurses

  • Cardiac nurses can expect to earn an average annual salary of around $70,000.
  • Cardiac nurses have many certification options to pursue, and certifications often increase salary and job prospects for nurses.
  • Many cardiac registered nurses pursue an advanced practice role to increase compensation.

Source: Journal of Nursing Regulation

Average Salary for Cardiac Nurses

Cardiac nurses hold registered nurse (RN) licenses and, at minimum, obtain education at the associate level. As the following information illustrates, however, cardiac nurse salary increases correspond with higher education levels.

According to the salaries of nurses surveyed by Medscape in 2020, the biggest jump, at 14%, occurs between the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) and master of science in nursing (MSN) levels.


Bachelor of Science in Nursing


Doctor of Nursing Practice

Source: MedScape

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Cardiac Nurse Salary Disparities by Gender

Male nurses comprise only 9.4% of the total number of RNs, but they earn higher paychecks than their female counterparts in nearly half of all specialty areas. For example, a survey conducted by the Journal of Nursing Regulation found that male cardiac nurses earn close to $15,000 more per year than female cardiac nurses.

Highest-Paying and Lowest-Paying States for Cardiac Nurses in 2020

While the BLS does not provide state salary data specifically for cardiac nurses, RN pay rates show comparable compensation trends based on geographic location. Cardiac nursing is an RN specialty and, in most states, cardiac nurses earn similar wages to RNs overall.

The BLS lists the states with the highest average RN salaries as California ($120,560) and Hawaii ($104,830), followed by Massachusetts, Oregon, and Alaska, where RNs make over $95,000. Alabama ranks as the lowest-paying state at $60,230, followed by South Dakota, Mississippi, Iowa, and Arkansas all making between $60,000-$64,000.

Urban locales in top-ranked California fill the list of the 10 highest-paying metropolitan areas, led by cities in the San Francisco Bay Area, where RNs can earn more than $145,000.

How Do Cardiac Nurse Salaries Compare to Other Nurses?

The chart below lists the average annual salaries of other popular nursing specialties. Cardiac nurses can expect to earn around $70,000 on average — similar to hospice nurses. Compensation rates also depend on education and certification.

Find Out More About How Much Nurses Earned in 2020

Four Ways to Increase Pay As an Cardiac Nurse

The median RN salary for the top 10% of earners reaches $116,230 a year, with the bottom 10% earning a median salary of around $53,410. These annual salaries translate to an hourly rate range of $26-$56 per hour. Along with certification and education, average salary rates and ranges correlate with the amount and type of nursing experience. The following section explores the factors that affect salaries and how RNs, including cardiac nurses, can maximize their earning potential.

1. Consider Pursuing Certifications
Cardiac nurses can become board certified through organizations like the American Nurses Credentialing Center, which offers a cardiac vascular nursing certification, and the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, which confers a cardiovascular nursing certificate. Certification signifies enhanced professional knowledge and competence and can lead to career advancement and bigger paychecks.
2. Increase Education Level
Cardiac nurses earn credentials that qualify them for RN licenses. A diploma can take less than a year to earn, while a degree takes at least two years to complete. Higher degrees can lead to higher salaries, so spending a couple more years obtaining a BSN or MSN may be worth the effort.
3. Gain Experience in Administrative Roles
The amount of work experience cardiac nurses gain can translate to higher salaries and more responsibility as nurse educators and managers. The 2020 workforce survey found that RNs with 6-10 years of experience earned up to $18,000 more than RNs in their first year of practice.
4. Become an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
Pursuing an MSN and becoming licensed as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) can result in an average salary of more than $100,000 per year. This roughly $30,000 increase makes the 2-3 years of additional training worthwhile for many cardiac nurses. Earning an MSN also opens the door to administrative and leadership roles with higher compensation.

Frequently Asked Questions: Cardiac Nurse Salaries

How much does a cardiovascular RN make?

The 2020 workforce survey reports a median RN salary of $70,000, and the Medscape survey lists a base compensation rate of $77,000. The BLS cites a median annual pay of $75,330 for RNs, which includes cardiac nurses.

What does a cardiovascular nurse do?

Working with cardiologists, cardiac nurses treat acute and chronic heart conditions, such as heart failure, heart attacks, and cardiac arrest. They assess patients and employ treatments like defibrillation, catheterization, and advanced cardiac life support. Cardiac nurses may also assist with heart surgeries.

Do nurses make six figures?

Cardiac nurses with advanced degrees, along with individuals who work in California and Hawaii, can earn more than $100,000. APRNs and nurses in leadership positions, including nurse educators, administrators, and managers, also commonly earn six-figure salaries. RNs average well over $100,000 in cities like San Francisco, San Jose, Sacramento, and Los Angeles.

What level of education is required to be a cardiovascular nurse?

Cardiac nurses comprise a specialization of RNs who become eligible for licensure with a nursing diploma, associate degree in nursing (ADN), or BSN. Nursing diplomas and ADNs typically lead to entry-level RN positions, while individuals with BSNs or MSNs usually enter nursing in more advanced positions.

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