Cardiologist Vs. Pulmonologist

The human body contains many systems so there are a number of internal medicine specialties, including cardiology and pulmonology, that involve treating different systems in the human body. Read on to learn more about these medical careers.

Comparing Cardiologists to Pulmonologists

Cardiologists and pulmonologists are specialists who work in internal medicine. They focus on treating different medical issues in different parts of the body.

Job Title Educational Requirements Salary Job Outlook (2016-2026)*
Cardiologists Medical degree; residency; fellowship $241,176 (2017 median)** 17% (internists, general)
Pulmonologists Medical degree; residency; fellowship $292,231 (2017 mean)*** 17% (internists, general)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale; ***;

Responsibilities of Cardiologists vs. Pulmonologists

Cardiologists and pulmonologists perform many comparable duties such as seeing patients and determining what conditions they are affected by. Both of these medical professionals may perform medical tests or refer patients to others for diagnostic tests. They may oversee the patient's treatment or refer patients to other specialists. For example, cardiologists are not qualified to perform surgery and may need to refer patients to a cardiothoracic surgeon. They may prescribe their patients medications; some pulmonologists opt to specialize in research instead of focusing on direct patient care.


Cardiologists are required to complete a fellowship in cardiology after they've earned a medical degree and finished a residency in internal medicine. The patients they treat have issues with their cardiovascular system, which is comprised of the heart, veins, and arteries. Cardiologists who focus on non-invasive care typically see patients in a medical office and concentrate on preventing patients from developing cardiovascular problems or monitoring the status of patients who have been diagnosed with a cardiovascular condition. Cardiologists who specialize as 'invasive, non-interventional cardiologists' can provide the same treatments as non-invasive cardiologists and are also qualified to perform special tests that enable them to locate blocked arteries. Other areas of specialization for cardiologists are interventional cardiologists and electrophysiologists. Interventional cardiologists typically work in hospitals and perform a range of procedures to treat issues with arteries while electrophysiologists specialize in treating patients with heart arrhythmia.

Job responsibilities of a cardiologist include:

  • Assessing patients
  • Evaluating the results of medical tests
  • Educating patients about lifestyle changes to prevent health problems
  • Performing medical tests
  • Referring patients to other specialists or surgeons


Pulmonologists are medical doctors who have completed extensive training to qualify to treat patients with medical issues related to their ability to breath. They may treat patients with medical issues ranging from asthma to sleep apnea. In order to prepare for their career they must earn a medical degree, complete a residency in the field of internal medicine and then complete a fellowship in pulmonary medicine. Pulmonologists often work overtime and are typically employed by hospitals and medical clinics. Pulmonologists need to have good communication skills because the breathing issues that affect their patients may impede their ability to talk at times, so pulmonologists may need to be capable of finding other effective methods of communicating.

Job responsibilities of a pulmonologist include:

  • Examining patients
  • Reviewing test results
  • Diagnosing patients
  • Immunizing patients
  • Consulting with surgeons and other doctors

Related Careers

Since cardiologists treat heart disease and other heart-related health problems some considering this career may also be interested in becoming a cardiac surgeon so that they can perform heart surgery. Allergists focus on treating patients who suffer from allergies and since pulmonologists may also treat patients with allergies those considering a career as a pulmonologist may also be interested in the work allergists do.

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