This job is sometimes referred to by alternative titles
Cardiac physiologists use a variety of technical equipment to monitor, record, measure and analyse the way patients' hearts are working to help doctors diagnose and treat patients with heart disease.
Cardiac physiologists usually earn
$41K-$60K per year
Source: APEX/DHBs Clinical Physiology Collective Agreement.
Cardiac physiologists' salaries depend on their experience and duties:
- Trainee cardiac physiologists usually start on about $41,000 a year.
- Once qualified they usually earn about $47,000.
- With five years' experience, they earn about $60,000.
Senior cardiac physiologists can earn up to $92,000 a year.
Source: APEX and District Health Boards 'Clinical Physiology Collective Agreement December 2011 - July 2014'.
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Cardiac physiologists may do some or all of the following:
- operate computerised equipment to monitor and record the electrical activity generated by the heart
- analyse heart function and blood flow data through catheters (thin tubes) placed within the heart
- monitor patients during exercise tests checking for heart disease
- take ultrasound pictures of patients' hearts to check heart function and identify abnormalities
- test pacemakers while they are being implanted in the patient and during patient follow up
- analyse and programme pacemakers to ensure they work well
- interpret patients' test results, and write reports to help the cardiologist decide on treatment
- take part in research projects.
Skills and knowledge
Cardiac physiologists need to have:
- knowledge of the structure and function of the heart and the human body
- knowledge of diseases that affect the heart and their consequences
- understanding of how heart monitoring equipment works
- technical skills to operate complex medical equipment.
- usually work business hours but may need to work overnight or during the weekends or be on call
- work in hospitals and clinics.
What's the job really like?
Jane Rogerson - Cardiac Physiologist
What does it take to become a cardiac physiologist?
“You need to be comfortable working in a hospital and interacting with very sick people, including those with severe heart problems. If you think you want to do this job, visit a hospital physiology department and see what the work involves.
“Also you need to be a person who likes to keep on learning, because there are a lot of developments to keep up with.”
What’s does the job involve?
"We put people on a treadmill to see if we can recreate the pain, and monitor the heart rhythm on the ECG.
"We take pictures for the cardiologist of the heart chambers, the thickness of the muscle, the valves, and the blood vessels going to and from the heart. The structure of the heart can be affected, for example, by somebody who has had high blood pressure for a long time."
What’s the most satisfying part of the job?
“Helping patients who are breathless from pains in the chest. You feel glad you could help, and patients are always really appreciative of what you do for them."
To become a cardiac physiologist you need to:
- complete a Bachelor of Science degree with a relevant major, such as biology, physiology or anatomy, or equivalent such as a Sport and Exercise Science degree
- gain employment as a trainee cardiac physiologist
- as a trainee, complete the part-time, two year Postgraduate Diploma in Medical Technology (Cardiology) via distance learning from Otago University
- complete the Certification of Cardiac Physiologists (CCP) in conjunction with the Postgraduate Diploma in Medical Technology (Cardiology).
- University of Otago website - information about the Postgraduate Certificate in Medical Technology (Cardiology)
- University of Otago website - information about the Postgraduate Diploma in Medical Technology (Cardiology)
- Society of Cardiopulmonary Technology website - information about the Certification of Cardiac Physiologists (CCP)
The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.
Level 3 is required to enter tertiary training. Useful subjects include English, maths, biology, chemistry and physics.
Cardiac physiologists need to be:
- responsible and reliable
- able to stay focused and accurate
- able to remain calm in emergencies and to work well under pressure
- aware and understanding of a range of different cultures
- able to work well as part of a team
- good communicators
- good at record-keeping.
Useful experience for cardiac physiologists includes:
- other medical technician or hospital-based work
- experience dealing with the public
- working with technology.
Find out more about training
- Society of Cardiopulmonary Technology
- firstname.lastname@example.org - www.sct.org.nz
Check out related courses
What are the chances of getting a job?
The shortage of cardiac physiologists is due to:
- an increase in the number of elderly and obese people, which is pushing up demand for cardiac treatment
- some cardiac physiologists moving overseas, where they get better pay and working conditions
- not enough people training for the role.
Cardiac physiologists work in hospitals
Most cardiac physiologists are employed by public hospitals. Some work for private hospitals.
- Shanahan, C, training officer cardiac physiology, Auckland District Health Board, Careers New Zealand interview, June 2014.
- Society of Cardiopulmonary Technology website, accessed January 2015, (www.sct.org.nz).
Progression and specialisations
Cardiac physiologists may progress into more senior roles or into managerial positions.
They may also move into specialist roles once initial training has been completed, by completing additional on-the-job training. Specialist roles include:
- Electrophysiology Technologist
- Electrophysiology technologists monitor a patient's heart activity during an electrophysiological (EP) study.
- Pacing Technologist
- Pacing technologists assist in implanting pacemakers in patients and carrying out follow up checks.
Last updated 13 August 2017