Copyright

Cardiac Surgeons: Career Information for Becoming a Cardiac Surgeon

Discover what it takes to become a cardiac surgeon. Find out the education, training and licensure requirements, as well as some related career options.

View 20 Popular Schools »

Career Definition

Cardiac surgery is one a specialization in the surgical field that is dedicated to treating heart conditions. Cardiac surgeons perform coronary artery bypass surgery, heart transplants, valve replacements and repairs of congenital heart conditions, according to the American College of Cardiology (www.acc.org). Some surgeons are employed by hospitals or medical centers, but many own or co-own their own practices and perform routine office check-ups and follow-ups as well as surgeries.

Becoming a Cardiac Surgeon

Education Requirements

The educational process to become a cardiac surgeon is one of the longest in the medical field. Cardiac surgeons must complete four years of college, four years of medical school, a 5-year general surgery residency and a 2-3 year specialized cardio or cardiothoracic fellowship. Surgeons who wish to specialize further in pediatric cardiology or heart transplant surgeries may require additional training. All cardiac surgeons must be certified in surgery by the American Board of Medical Specialists before seeking further certification for cardiothoracic surgery. Accomplished cardiac surgeons may be elected to the American College of Cardiology and earn the Fellow of the American College of Cardiology (FACC) designation.

Licensure Requirements

All physicians and surgeons must obtain a state license. Licensure requirements include attending an accredited medical school, completing a residency and passing the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination.

Knowledge and Skill Requirements

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), cardiac surgeons must be well-versed in the subjects of anatomy, pharmacology, biochemistry, pathology and medical ethics. Cardiac surgeons need to have extensive knowledge of the anatomy of the heart and surrounding blood vessels. Cardiothoracic surgeons must be experts in lung anatomy as well.

Career Outlook

According to the BLS, cardiac surgeons' specialized expertise will be in continued demand, and jobs for physicians and surgeons are projected to increase by 18% from 2012 to 2022. Earning potential in the cardiac surgery field is very high. The BLS reported that the Medical Group Management Association's survey of physicians and surgeons listed the median annual salary for general surgeons as $367,885 in 2012.

Alternative Career Options

Podiatrist

Those interested in a career in surgery who prefer not to work on vital organs might explore the field of podiatry. Podiatrists diagnose, treat and perform surgeries to correct ailments of the feet and ankles. To become a podiatrist, one must complete a Doctor of Podiatric Medicine at a school of podiatry and then complete a residency. Like medical doctors, podiatrists must be licensed, which requires completing an accredited program and residency and passing the American Podiatric Medical Licensing Exam. According to the BLS in 2012, podiatrists had a median annual salary of $116,440. The BLS projects jobs for podiatrists will increase by 23% from 2012 to 2022, which is faster than average for that period.

Cardiovascular Nurse

Like cardiac surgeons, cardiovascular nurses care for patients with cardiovascular disease. These nurses educate patients in heart disease prevention, monitor patients before and after cardiac surgery and assist patients with cardiac rehabilitation. To work as a cardiovascular nurse, one must first become a registered nurse (RN), which commonly requires a minimum of an associate's degree and passing the NCLEX-RN exam. After gaining some experience working in a cardiac care unit, cardiovascular nurses may obtain professional certification from organizations such as the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The BLS reported in May 2012 that the median annual salary for all RNs was $65,470. Job growth for RNs in general is expected to be faster-than-average from 2012 to 2022, according to the BLS.

Show me popular schools

Related to Cardiac Surgeons: Career Information for Becoming a Cardiac Surgeon

  • Related
  • Recently Updated
  • Popular
Orthopedic Surgeon: Career Info & Requirements

An orthopedic surgery career offers board-certified surgeons the opportunity to specialize in treating the musculoskeletal...

Cardiac Surgeon: Education Requirements and Career Info

Cardiac surgeons operate on the heart and surrounding vessels to treat cardiovascular diseases. To become board-certified, they...

Best Colleges for Surgeons: List of Top Medical Schools

Surgical programs at the country's top medical schools prepare students for careers as general surgeons or as surgeons in...

Undergraduate Degree Options for Aspiring Oral Surgeons

The first step in becoming an oral surgeon is to complete an undergraduate degree program in pre-dentistry. Students take...

How to Become an Orthopedic Surgeon: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Popular Schools

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Which subject are you interested in?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Alabama (2 campuses)
    • Arkansas (1)
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1)
    • Delaware (1)
    • Florida (9)
    • Georgia (8)
    • Louisiana (1)
    • Maryland (5)
    • Mississippi (1)
    • North Carolina (5)
    • Pennsylvania (6)
    • South Carolina (3)
    • Tennessee (3)
    • Texas (8)
    • Virginia (11)
    • West Virginia (1)

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    • Eligibility and relevancy of sample programs below will vary by article and program
    School locations:
    • Online Learning
    • Arizona (3 campuses)
    • California (16)
    • Colorado (3)
    • Florida (6)
    • Georgia (5)
    • Illinois (8)
    • Indiana (2)
    • Kentucky (1)
    • Maryland (1)
    • Michigan (1)
    • Minnesota (1)
    • Missouri (2)
    • North Carolina (2)
    • New Jersey (3)
    • Nevada (1)
    • New York (2)
    • Ohio (4)
    • Oklahoma (1)
    • Oregon (1)
    • Pennsylvania (5)
    • Tennessee (2)
    • Texas (7)
    • Utah (1)
    • Virginia (3)
    • Washington (3)
    • Wisconsin (2)

    Online and Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your classroom preference?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must complete an application online and submit transcripts for their highest degree earned.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate.
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Master
        • Master of Science in Education - Allied Health Teaching and Leadership
    • Bachelor
        • RN to BSN
    • Associate
        • AS in Medical Assisting

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Applicants must be 22 years of age or have active military status
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    • Associate
        • AA in Healthcare Mgt

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be 23 years of age or older
    • Must have 3 years of relevant work experience for a Master of Business Administration
    • Must have 5 years of relevant work experience all other Master's degrees
    • Must have at least 5 years of managerial work experience for a Doctorate degree
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must be a high school graduate or have completed GED
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must hold a Bachelor's degree or higher
    School locations:
    • Online Learning

    Online Programs

    During which term would you like to start?

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics