How to Become a Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist

Home >> Science Careers >> Exercise Science Careers: What you Can Do with This Degree >> How To Become A Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist

How to Become a Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist: Career Path Guide

To become a cardiac rehabilitation specialist, you need to begin by determining 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? If you’ve answered ‘yes’ to these questions, then a career in this field may be well suited for you!


Below we've outlined what you'll need to succeed in a career as a cardiac rehabilitation specialist in the United States or Canada. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!




Education Needed to Become a Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist

To become a cardiac rehabilitation specialist, you can first train as an exercise physiologist, a registered nurse, or a physiotherapist.


Typically, the minimum education required to work as a cardiac rehabilitation specialist 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. 




Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist Job Description

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

• Dieticians

• Nurses

• Kinesiologists/Exercise Scientists• 

• Exercise Physiologists

• Psychologists

• Physiotherapists



Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist Job Duties

• 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



Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist Salary

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. 


Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist Salary Canada: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans in the Physiotherapists occupational group earned on average from $32.88 to $49.67 an hour.


Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist Salary 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 Hires 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 for Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialists

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


Work Schedule: Cardiac rehabilitation specialists 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.



Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist Jobs

Our job board below has "Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Careers Similar to Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist

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



References: Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist

Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as a Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist.


Alberta Learning and Information Services website:

Explore Health Careers website:

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website:

United Stated Department of Health and Human Services website:



Scholarships for Becoming a Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist

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!



Becoming a Cardiac Rehabilitation Specialist: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming a cardiac rehabilitation specialist. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


Popular Degree Programs in Your Area