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Cardiac Anesthesiologist: Salary and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a cardiac anesthesiologist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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A cardiac anesthesiologist specializes in administering anesthetics to patients while they undergo heart surgery. Cardiac anesthesiologists monitor patients' comfort and vital signs during heart-related surgical procedures. The education required for this career is extensive.

Essential Information

During surgical procedures involving the heart, a cardiac anesthesiologist oversees the operation and ensures that the surgical patient is as comfortable as possible. Cardiac anesthesiologists go through a lengthy educational process, which requires completion of a 4-year degree, medical school, an internship and a residency. State licensure is also required before graduates can actively work as cardiac anesthesiologists.

Required Education Professional medical degree, residency and internship
Other Requirements State licensure is required; board certification is available
Projected Job Growth* 16% between 2014 and 2024 (all anesthesiologists)
Average Salary (2015)* $258,100 (all anesthesiologists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Cardiac Anesthesiologist Education Overview

Prior to becoming practicing doctors, cardiac anesthesiologists complete eight years of education in addition to an internship and residency program, which can last anywhere from 3-8 years. The coursework for medical students interested in becoming cardiac anesthesiologists can emphasize anesthesia and pain relief techniques along with information on heart care.

Medical schools are highly competitive, so students need to ensure that they meet all conditions and have several letters of references. Interviews with an admissions committee are often required of applicants. Students may seek out an accredited fellowship program through the Society of Cardiovascular Anesthesiologists (www.scahq.org).

Salary and Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), anesthesiologists had a mean hourly wage of $124.09 in May 2015 (www.bls.gov). This amounted to a mean annual wage of $258,100. With 25,040 workers, physician offices were the number one employers for anesthesiologists in the United States. The next highest employer, with 2,700 employees, was general surgical and medical hospitals. The BLS also reported that the highest paying states for anesthesiologists were Wyoming, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Oregon, and Oklahoma.

Career Information

Cardiac anesthesiologists are physicians who specialize in heart care and are responsible for taking care of surgical patients and easing their pain. During heart-related operations, these anesthesiologists oversee the vital signs and condition of the surgical patient. These vital signs include body temperature, breathing, heart rate and blood pressure. Cardiac anesthesiologists are expected to work irregular and long hours in sterile environments. Sometimes they are on call and have to perform emergency visits or answer phone calls to help patients.

All states require cardiac anesthesiologists to pass the United States Medical Licensing Examination after graduation. Additional requirements can vary, so it's recommended that individuals get in contact with their state's medical board. After completing a residency program, a final examination may be offered to cardiac anesthesiologists seeking to get board certification in their specialty. Cardiac anesthesiologists may acquire their board certification with the American Osteopathic Association (www.osteopathic.org).

Cardiac anesthesiologists need extensive schooling, and an encyclopedia of medical knowledge particularly in cardiovascular topics and anesthesia. They also need to be extremely cautious, thorough, observant, able to work calmly under high pressure situations and react to crisis with a clear, focused mind.

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