3 Proven Steps for Becoming a Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist


The first step on your journey, is to determine if a career in this field is right for you. Do you believe in the value of exercise and nutrition? Are you interested in a career that allows you to work within a team of healthcare professionals? Are you interested in helping patients recover from health problems?


The second step, will be to ensure that you meet the educational requirements, which generally involves earning a bachelor’s degree in a science or healthcare-related field. 


The third step, will of course be to find a suitable job.


Below we’ve expanded on these three steps, to give you a better understanding of what it will take to get into this field. We’ve also included scholarships and actual cardiac rehabilitation specialist job postings, were available.



Educational Requirements

To become a cardiac rehabilitation specialist, you'll first need to train as an exercise physiologist, a registered nurse, or a physiotherapist.


Typically, the minimum education required for these fields is a bachelor’s degree in exercise science, biology, a nursing degree, or an undergraduate degree in nutrition. Many employers however tend to prefer candidates who have a graduate degree in exercise science, biology, nutrition, or a nursing degree, coupled with practical experience in their field of specialty. 





What is a Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist?

Cardiac rehabilitation specialists (also known as 'cardiopulmonary rehabilitation specialists') work with patients who are suffering from or have suffered from heart problems and ailments. The must design and carefully monitor exercise and nutritional programs for their patients. Cardiac rehabilitation is a diverse field, and rehabilitation teams are composed of professionals from a variety of backgrounds related to health, including:


• Cardiologists

• Dietitians

• Nurses

• Kinesiologists/Exercise Scientists

• Exercise Physiologists

• Psychologists

• Physiotherapists



What Do They Do?

• Conduct initial assessment of patient

• Gather information on patient history and information related to risk factors for heart disease

• Establish an exercise program for the patient

• Perform blood and glucose monitoring

• Evaluate patient prior to each exercise session for contraindications for starting the exercise session

• Develop care plan for the patient, including nutrition and medication

• Give direction on appropriate rehabilitation activities based on patient’s physical response to exercise

• Identify EKG rhythm abnormalities

• Respond appropriately to emergency situations

• Liaise with other health care personnel and physicians



Typical Salary Figures

The salary level of cardiac rehabilitation specialists can vary widely depending on a number of factors, such as their field of specialty, their level of education, their level of experience, where they work and many others.


There is no salary information available from reliable sources for the career Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist. We can however, get a good idea of what they earn by looking at the salary level of workers in closely related occupations. 


Earnings in Canada: According to the 2015 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Physiotherapists occupational group earned on average salary of $87,885 per year. Unfortunately, salary figures for this field are not available from reliable sources for the rest of Canada at the time of writing (June 26, 2019).


Earnings in the United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for workers in the Physical Therapists occupational group is $76,310 per year. 





Who Employs Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialists?

Cardiac rehabilitation specialists are often employed in the healthcare industry by the following types of organizations:


• Physiotherapy clinics

• Hospitals

• Specialized healthcare facilities, such as cardiac wellness centers

• Home health care services 

• Nursing and residential care facilities



Working Conditions Common to this Profession

Work Setting: Cardiac rehabilitation specialists typically work in hospitals, outpatient clinics and rehabilitation centers. They spend a large percentage of their time meeting with patients in an office, an exam room or a supervised exercise facility.


Work Schedule: These professionals usually work normal weekday working hours, although they may meet patients and other healthcare providers, or supervise group exercise programs during the evening or on weekends.


Rewards: Having a direct impact on the improvement of a patient’s cardiopulmonary health can be extremely rewarding. Being accountable to not only a patient, but your entire team of healthcare professionals in order to accomplish goals and rehabilitate patients can provide a great deal of daily motivation to professionals in this field.



Current Job Postings

Our job board below has 'cardiac rehabilitation specialist' postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.




Similar Career Profiles in Our Database

Listed below are jobs that are similar in nature to that of a cardiac rehabilitation specialist, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


• Dietitian

• Physiotherapist

• Sports Medicine Physician

• Athletic Therapist

• Exercise Physiologist




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of this profession:


Occupations in Alberta:Physiotherapist.” (March 31, 2019). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved November 1, 2019.

Healthcare:Physical Therapists.” (September 4, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved November 1, 2019.

Health Topics:Cardiac Rehabilitation.” (n.d.). National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute website. Retrieved November 1, 2019.

Services & Treatments:Cardiac Rehabilitation.” (n.d.). Aurora Health Care website. Retrieved November 1, 2019.



Relevant Scholarships

Scholarships listed for majors that apply to becoming a cardiac rehabilitation specialist can be found on the following pages:


Biology Scholarships

Exercise Science Scholarships

Kinesiology Scholarships


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Applicable Majors for Becoming a Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist

The university majors listed below can serve as an excellent foundation for becoming a cardiac rehabilitation specialist. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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