Difference Between Cardiologist & Interventional Cardiologist

Though they both focus on heart issues, interventional cardiologists are trained to perform advanced invasive procedures on their patients, whereas other cardiologists are not. Continue reading to learn more about how these professions differ.

Comparing Cardiologists to Interventional Cardiologists

Cardiologists and interventional cardiologists both work in the same sub-specialty of internal medicine, which focuses on issues with the heart and cardiovascular system, but they have different training requirements and duties. Due to their extra training and the advanced procedures they perform, interventional cardiologists earn a higher salary than cardiologists.

Job Title Educational Requirements Mean Salary (2017)* Job Outlook (2016-2026)**
Cardiologists Medical school degree; residency; fellowship $386,510 17% (internists, general)
Interventional Cardiologists Medical school degree; residency; fellowship; additional fellowship $438,430 17% (internists, general)

Sources: *Glassdoor.com; **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Cardiologists vs. Interventional Cardiologists

Cardiologists and interventional cardiologists both spend time seeing patients. Cardiologists spend more of their time meeting with patients in medical offices and use preventative strategies to help patients stop cardiovascular conditions from progressing. Cardiologists who identify patients with serious conditions may refer their patients to an interventional cardiologist for treatment. Therefore, interventional cardiologists typically spend most of their time performing tests and procedures on these patients, such as balloon angioplasties. While they will review patient information and meet with patients before and after procedures, they do most of their work in the hospital.


Cardiologists must complete a residency in internal medicine after they have earned a medical degree. After the residency, they are required to spend two years completing a fellowship in cardiology. The standard role for cardiologists is to serve as a non-invasive cardiologist and concentrate on running diagnostic tests and treating patients by prescribing medicine or recommending lifestyle changes, such as dietary changes, that can improve their condition. Those who train to become invasive, non-interventional cardiologists may do similar work with patients but are also qualified to perform medical tests to find arterial blockages. However, invasive, non-interventional cardiologists do not perform the same procedures that interventional cardiologists do.

Job responsibilities of a cardiologist include:

  • Assessing patients' heart and cardiovascular health
  • Interpreting the results of EKGs and other tests
  • Referring patients to other specialists
  • Performing cardiac catheterizations (invasive, non-interventional cardiologists only)

Interventional Cardiologists

Interventional cardiologists spend three years completing a fellowship in interventional cardiology after they have graduated from medical school, finished a residency in internal medicine, and also finished a prior fellowship in cardiology. Interventional cardiologists typically work in hospitals and may work any time of the day or night during weekends or weekdays. They may treat patients with conditions such as heart disease or blocked arteries. It's important for interventional cardiologists to have good communication and leadership skills so they can effectively work with other medical professionals while performing procedures. They also benefit from having physical stamina and dexterity, since they may spend a lot of time standing, and procedures often require precision.

Job responsibilities of an interventional cardiologist include:

  • Reviewing referrals
  • Explaining procedures to patients
  • Performing procedures such as inserting stents into arteries and repairing valves
  • Conducting follow-ups with patients after treatment

Related Careers

Individuals considering a career as a cardiologist may also be interested in other internal medicine specialties, such as oncology. Those who are considering a career as an interventional cardiologist may also be interested in learning about the work that cardiac surgeons do to treat heart conditions.

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