Full Guide to Cardiologist Salaries by Subspecialty and Region

As of 2021, there are more than 33,000 cardiologists practicing in the United States. But they don’t all perform bypass surgery or implant stents, as most people outside the medical field tend to believe.

All cardiologists start their career with an internal medicine residency then pursue a fellowship in cardiology or sub-specialize further in a field such as interventional cardiology.

Others do their residency training in pediatrics then go on to do a pediatric cardiology fellowship.

Aspiring physicians with an interest in both cardiology and surgery often enroll in a surgical residency then do an additional two to six years in a cardiothoracic surgery residency or a cardiothoracic fellowship.

“Cardiologist” is a broad term. There are many types of cardiologists and many career paths you can choose, and the path and sub-specialty you select can significantly impact how much you can earn.

To learn how much you can earn as a cardiologist, here’s our full guide to cardiologist salaries by specialty and region.


How Much Does the Average Cardiologist Earn?

According to Medscape’s 2021 Cardiologist Compensation Report, the national average salary for a cardiologist in the U.S. is $459,000 per year.

Cardiologists also report an average annual incentive bonus of $71,000 per year. This is sometimes based on productivity, sometimes on clinical processes, and other times on patient satisfaction.

Cardiologists are some of the highest income earners in medicine, surpassed only by physicians who work in plastic surgery and orthopedics.

Self-employed cardiologists that work in private practice or as a partner in a practice earn even more, with an average annual salary of $477,000 per year. Employed radiologists earn an average salary of $450,000 per year.

The MedAxiom 2021 Cardiovascular Provider Compensation and Production Survey reports cardiologist salaries as being even higher, with a median average of between $554,945 and $665,813, depending on sub-specialty.

Interested in striking out on your own? See: How to Start a Medical Practice


Salary Varies Depending on Specialty

Physician compensation always varies depending on years of experience.

Physicians further along in their careers almost always make more than a newly licensed physician earning the average base salary. But in cardiology, sub-specialty is also a key factor in earning potential.

There are three main categories of cardiology practice:

  1. Invasive
  2. Interventional
  3. Non-invasive

Salaries for non-invasive cardiologists are on the lower end of the spectrum, while invasive and interventional cardiologists are some of the top earners in all of medicine.

The average salary estimates for different types of cardiologists based on job title and area of expertise are as follows:

Within those three main categories, here’s how the average annual salaries of sub-specialists stack up:

Discover: Where Do Electrophysiologists Make the Most Competitive Salaries?


Where Do Cardiologists Earn the Most?

Four doctors standing together in hospital hallway

Aside from your specialty, where you work also has a significant impact on how much you earn, and it’s not just about the cost of living.

According to ZipRecruiter, here are the top-five and bottom-five states where cardiologists make the most and the least.

The states that pay cardiologists the most:

  • Hawaii
  • Massachusetts
  • Rhode Island
  • North Dakota
  • Alaska

The states that pay cardiologists the least:

  • Mississippi
  • Florida
  • New Mexico
  • Alabama
  • North Carolina

According to the 2021 MedAxiom study, these are the median average cardiology salaries in each region of the U.S:

  • South: $634,866
  • Midwest: $612,216
  • West: $584,180
  • Northeast: $559,376

The Northeast and Western regions of the country, which have some of the highest costs of living, pay cardiologists the least. This is due, in part, to the fact that hospitals and practices in these regions usually have an easier time attracting top-tier talent.

Rural areas in the Midwest and South often have a more difficult time attracting experienced, talented physicians. This forces hospitals and practices in these regions to pay higher salaries to meet the supply and demand for cardiologists.

Why Do Some States Pay Cardiologists More?

Physicians almost always earn more when the demand for their skills is high and the supply of experienced physicians is low. This is the case for all physicians, including cardiologists.

Regardless of why cardiologist shortages exist, states that have the biggest shortages of physicians usually pay the highest salaries — and those aren’t necessarily the states that have the highest costs of living or even a large aging population.

While the cost of living can also contribute to a cardiologist’s salary, supply and demand usually have the most significant effect on how much a cardiac physician is paid.

Related: 10 Best States to Practice Medicine

Is There a Shortage of Cardiologists?

There is a looming physician shortage across the board in almost all specialties, including cardiology. And of all existing medical specialties, physicians specializing in cardiovascular disease are some of the oldest physicians in the U.S.

37.2% of all cardiologists are under 55, while 62.8% are over the age of 55 and closer to nearing retirement age. As more and more cardiologists retire, the demand will only continue to grow.

For the 2020-2021 residency year, there are a total of 144,660 residents in training, including IMGs, U.S. and Canadian medical school graduates, and DO graduates.

Of those, only a tiny fraction of fellows are currently pursuing a career in a cardiology sub-specialty.

The current number of medical fellowsby sub-specialty is as follows:

  • Cardiovascular Disease: 3,158
  • Pediatric Cardiology: 446
  • Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology: 264
  • Advanced Heart Failure and Transplant Cardiology: 97
  • Adult Congenital Heart Disease: 24
  • Congenital Cardiac Surgery: 8

This totals just about 4,000 fellows working toward a career in a cardiology subspecialty. And while others may move into cardiology as they begin their fellowships, these current figures only reinforce the fact the the cardiologist shortage will get worse.

With the small percentage of medical residents pursuing a cardiology pathway and the number of active, licensed cardiologists expected to retire in the next ten years, all signs indicate that there will be an even greater shortage of cardiologists in the years to come.


The Cardiology Gender Wage Gap

As with most professions and medical specialties, there is a gender wage cap in cardiology.

Of all cardiologists in the U.S., 61% are male, and 36% are female. And those female physicians earn an average of 7.3% less than their male peers. That figure may seem high, but it’s actually a fraction of how much less most female physicians earn overall.

In primary care, female physicians earn 21% less than male physicians. Women in specialty care earn nearly 25% less than their male counterparts.

While the 7.3% wage gap in cardiology needs to close, women in this area of medicine do fare better than most female physicians in any other field of primary or specialty care.

Of the approximate 4,000 residents pursuing a sub-specialty in cardiology, only about 26% are female. Unless the number of residents and fellows changes dramatically in upcoming years, it stands to reason that men will hold the vast majority of cardiologist jobs in the years to come.

Related: How Female Physicians Can Counteract the Gender Pay Gap


Where Do Cardiologist Salaries Rank Among Other Physicians?

Wondering if cardiologists make more or less than other physicians?

While starting salaries, incentives, and total compensation packages vary among cardiology sub-specialists, cardiologists generally earn more than physicians in most specialties.

Based on data from the Medscape Cardiologist Compensation Report 2021, these are the top-earning physician specialties, each making an average of more than $400,000 per year:

  • Plastic surgery: $526k
  • Orthopedics: $511k
  • Cardiology: $459k
  • Urology: $427k
  • Otolaryngology: $417k
  • Radiology: $413k
  • Gastroenterology: $406k
  • Oncology: $403k

Despite being some of the highest income earners, only 61% of cardiologists feel fairly compensated. However, 86% of cardiologists surveyed by Medscape say they would choose medicine again if they had the opportunity to choose a new career path.


How Can Cardiologists Protect Their Income?

Young doctor and businessman have a meeting

While salary ranges run the gamut between primary care and specialty care, all physicians in the healthcare industry can take preventative measures to protect their income, license, and financial future.

Whether you work in New York, Texas, Minnesota, or any other state in the nation, all cardiologists can benefit from taking these steps:

Protect Yourself With a Professional Contract Review

Except for a cardiologist who owns their own practice, every employed cardiac specialist will be presented with an employment contract at some point in their career. And no matter how many employment contracts you’ve signed in the past or how familiar with them you may be, every employment contract needs to undergo a thorough and professional review.

Employment contract review is the best way to ensure that your compensation is fair, that the responsibilities and duties of your job are what you expect them to be, and that the terms of your exit or termination are clearly stated.

contract review is also a way to make sure that nothing has been omitted from the contract.

Here are some of the terms your contract should cover:

Without an attorney to review your contract, you could be in jeopardy of having to work under restrictive covenants, pay for medical malpractice tail insurance long after your contract ends, or take on longer shifts.

To learn more about contract review, read our Definitive Guide to Physician Contract Review now.

Protect Your Future Income With Disability Insurance

Disability insurance is the single best way to protect your future, unearned income. Should you suffer an illness or injury that prevents you from working as a cardiologist, disability insurance allows you to continue to earn a portion of your income for a period of a few years, all the way up to the age of retirement.

Disability insurance is not just for older physicians or cardiologists already suffering from current medical conditions. A disability can occur at any point in life, so it’s vital for younger physicians who stand to earn millions of future dollars throughout their careers.

Without disability insurance, you could find yourself in a position where you’re earning zero income or working in a role that pays far less than a job as a cardiologist would.

For more information on disability insurance and how to choose the right provider, contact Physicians Thrive now.

Obtain the Right Amount of Malpractice Insurance

Every physician is at risk for a malpractice claim, but for cardiologists, the threat of a malpractice lawsuit is even higher.

One study shows that 59% have been named in at least one malpractice suit, and 65% of all cardiologists have had to face at least one malpractice claim throughout their careers.

Wrongful death and complications from treatment or surgery are some of the main reasons why cardiologists are sued for malpractice. But the failure to diagnose is the primary reason why most cardiologists face lawsuits.

This data proves that you don’t have to be an interventional cardiologist or invasive cardiologist performing surgical procedures to be on the receiving end of an expensive lawsuit.

For most physicians, medical malpractice insurance costs between $4,000 and $12,000 per year. But for cardiologists that perform surgery, the price can easily reach $50,000 per year.

To protect your personal assets and your medical license, always be sure that you have enough malpractice coverage, no matter what type of medicine you practice.

For more information on choosing the right type of malpractice insurance, see: Malpractice Insurance Options.


Invasive and interventional cardiologists are some of the highest earners in all of medicine. Whether you work in non-invasive cardiology or in a top-earning discipline such as electrophysiology of cardiac transplantation, all physicians need to know how to protect their income and build wealth for their future.

Looking for disability insurance, malpractice insurance, investment strategies, or tax savings plans to help you build wealth for retirement? Contact Physicians Thrive now.

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