What is a Cardiologist

A cardiologist is a physician who specializes in disorders related to the heart, including the diagnosis and treatment of heart defects, coronary artery disease, and heart failure. Cardiologists are distinct from cardiac surgeons, who specialize in surgery on the heart. For more information on job duties and how to become a cardiologist, please visit our cardiologist job description page.

Work Environment

Cardiologists tend to work either in hospitals, or in private/solo practices. In a group practice or hospital, cardiologists will work as part of a team, coordinating care for a larger number of patients. Regardless of setting, though, cardiologists will be assisted by nurses and other administrative personnel.

Cardiologists make use of numerous tests in order to help in the diagnosis and treatment of patients. These may include CT scans, MRIs, electrocardiograms (ECGs), cardiac catheterization, and cardiovascular endurance exercises, among others.

Work Schedule

The work schedule of a cardiologist is highly demanding. The work itself can be quite stressful, and cardiologists are often required to be on call; this can mean a weekly schedule nearing (or exceeding) 60 hours, and the ability to perform well in emergency situations. This schedule is subject to the cardiac specialty, however with a greater number of patients treated and more time spent on their care, cardiologist salary is one of the highest in the medical industry.

Mean Annual Cardiologist Salary

A cardiologist’s annual income resides in the top echelon of all health care professionals. At an average salary of $376,052 a year, they are extremely well compensated. Individuals who fall in the lowest 10% of all cardiologists can expect to make less than $251,449 each year whereas others with more experience in the top 10% can reach more than $550,421 annually. Cardiologist salaries are among the highest paying of all physicians in the United States.

Cardiologist Salary: Quick Summary

2012 Median Salary$376,052 per year
$180.79 per hour
Top 10% Salary$550,421 per year
$264.63 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$251,449 per year
$120.89 per hour
Number of Jobs, 2012691,000 (All Physicians)

Job Outlook

Cardiologists are in high demand. A growing need for physicians, particularly in comparison to other industries, points to a eighteen percent increase in jobs overall, and as cardiology is a specialty well suited to the aging population, demand will continue to rise.

As there is a lack of cardiologists in rural areas, these hold the most encouraging prospects. Cardiologists are needed in most regions, but those with elderly populations will have a particular demand in the coming years.

Salary Analysis

The location of the cardiologist is the primary factor affecting salary. Minnesota, South Dakota, and Indiana tend to have the highest paying positions, however in metropolitan areas, San Jose (California), Chicago, and Seattle top the scale.

The second factor affecting wages is the difference in employment by health care facility or self-employment; self-employed cardiologists earn higher rates of pay.

Finally, specialization is the third main factor impacting annual income. Salaries for an invasive cardiologist can range from $250,000 to $550,000, while a pediatric cardiology will make only $250,000 on average.

Education and Specialization 

The choice of specialization, as mentioned, can have a tremendous impact on a salary. Interventional cardiologists can earn between $150,000 and $350,000, following a three-year fellowship after a residency. A pediatric cardiologist, on the other hand, receives between $203,000 and $290,000 per year, depending on the state they choose to work in. Invasive cardiologists take home the highest salaries at around $370,000 annually.

Once certified, many cardiologists also engaging in teaching at universities and teaching hospitals, offering another form of income.

Experience and Position 

Experience will have a greater impact than position on the salary of a cardiologist. While a hospital’s head of cardiology may draw a higher salary, more years’ experience is a better means of increasing earnings, as there is only one head, and that position is generally reserved for longer-serving physicians.


Demand for cardiology services is being driven by demographics and obesity rates, as well as changes in governmental policy related to health insurance. Reputation and expertise are significant drivers for individual practices, with those held in high regard drawing much larger salaries. They are also often competing with general practitioners who diagnose cardiovascular diseases.


As previously mentioned, the location is one of the primary factors affecting cardiologist salary. Minnesota, South Dakota, Indiana, New Hampshire, and Nevada are the five best-paying areas, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. The highest paid starting salaries are greater than $300,000 per year.