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Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist Certification Information

Cardiac and cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialists are licensed physical therapists who have met patient care requirements and successfully completed an examination in cardiovascular and pulmonary care.

Certification Requirements

Certification as a cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation specialist provides proof of professional experience and the credentials needed for continued professional development in the field. The American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) oversees the specialist certification process. The ABPTS, which is a branch of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), requires applicants to submit their application materials and pay an application fee by July of each year.

Candidates for certification as a cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation specialist must be currently licensed as a physical therapist in the United States. Applicants must have 2,000 hours of direct cardiac or pulmonary patient care within the past ten years; 500 of those hours must have been completed within the three years prior to submission of the application. Other requirements for certification include participation in a cardiovascular or pulmonary research project within ten years of applying including written evidence of involvement, as well as current certification in Advanced Cardiac Life Support.

Test Areas

The cardiopulmonary examination includes questions from the following categories:

  • Evaluation
  • Foundational, clinical and behavioral sciences
  • Interventions
  • Professional behaviors
  • History-taking and systems review

Career and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, physical therapists in general can expect a 34% (much faster than average) growth in jobs from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, the median annual wage for physical therapists was $84,020, as reported by the BLS.

Continuing Education

Cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation specialists must recertify every ten years in order to maintain their designation. They must also have an up-to-date physical therapist license and complete a certain number of direct patient-care hours. Additionally, an individual applying for recertification must submit a professional development portfolio or complete a written examination.

Remember, if you want to pursue certification as a cardiovascular and pulmonary rehabilitation specialist, you'll have to meet the credentialing requirements of the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS). Through 2024, employment opportunities are projected to increase by 34%, or much faster than average, for physical therapists in general, who earned a median annual salary of $84,020 in May 2015.

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