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Cardiologist Education and Training Requirements

Cardiologists require significant formal education. Learn about the education, job duties and licensure requirements to see if this is the right career for you.

Prospective cardiologists must undertake a bachelor's degree in a science or health related field. Once complete, a further four years of medical school, plus about six to eight more years of intensive training is required.

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Essential Information

Cardiologists are medical doctors who specialize in heart and blood vessel disease. They help patients prevent diseases as well as diagnose and treat those who already have them. Aspiring cardiologists need to obtain their bachelor's degree and then enroll in a medical school program. After graduating from medical school, they complete several years of internal medicine and cardiology training in a residency program. They must also become licensed as physicians by their state and pass a certification exam in their specialty.

Required Education Doctoral degree in medicine; completion of a residency program in internal medicine and cardiology
Other Requirements State licensure and cardiologist certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 14% (for all physicians and surgeons)*
Median Salary (2016) $243,197**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

Cardiologist Overview

Cardiologists are doctors that prevent, diagnose and treat heart and blood vessel issues, such as heart and vascular disease, congenital heart defects, heart attacks, coronary artery disease, heart rhythm disturbances and heart failure. Cardiology is divided into several specific fields such as pediatric cardiology, adult cardiology, interventional procedures, echocardiography and electrophysiology.

Cardiologists may find positions within hospitals, private practices and universities. In order to become a cardiologist, one must undergo four years of medical school as well as three years of internal medicine training. Finally, one must complete three more years of what is called specialized training.

Education

First, an aspiring cardiologist must have a bachelor's degree in order to get into medical school. The most logical pre-med bachelor degrees include courses in chemistry, mathematics, engineering or psychology. Then one must gain a passing score on the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test).

The four years in medical school covers standard medical terminology, medical judgment and clinical standard procedures. Potential cardiologists who complete the ten years of educational preparation must then pass a certification exam administered by the American Board of Internal Medicine.

Training Requirements

After medical school, students attend six to eight more years of general internal medicine training and specialized cardiology training through a residency. The course topics covered in a cardiology training program include catheterization, patient prep, vascular access, hemodynamic studies, coronary anatomy, coronary angiography, radiographic imaging, fluoroscopy, congenital heart disease and circulatory support.

The length and type of schooling varies depending on which field of cardiology students enter; for example, students pursuing a pediatric cardiologist career must first focus on pediatric training, followed by three or more years in cardiology training. On the other hand, cardiac surgeons take about five years of training in general surgery before they begin what is called a 'cardio-thoracic' program.

At least a decade of college, medical school and residency training is required to become a cardiologist. Jobs for physicians and surgeons of all types are expected by grow by 14% from 2014 to 2024, and the median pay for cardiologists is in excess of $240,000.


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