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Cath/Lab Nurse Career Guide

Nurses that work in a catheterization lab for heart operations are known as cardiac cath lab nurses. These professionally trained nurses aid the medical team and play several responsibilities during cardiac catheterizations.


A cardiac cath lab nurse is a Registered Nurse who specializes in catheterization assistance. They keep track of and assess patients before, during, and after operations. They also give out drugs and help the medical team with everything they require during the process.

Cardiac catheterizations can be used just for diagnostic purposes or for invasive operations that do not necessitate the utilization of an operating room. They take place in a catheterization lab, which is a hospital examination facility that specializes in procedures that allow doctors to see certain features of the heart.

Tasks and Responsibilities

Cardiac cath lab nurses often undertake the following tasks, according to the American Nurses Association's Society for Vascular Nursing:

  • Administer drugs to patients.

  • Assist with diagnostic tests

  • Participate in interventional procedures as needed.

  • Be ready in case of an emergency.

  • During cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology procedures, circulate and scrub.

  • Patients and families get discharge instruction, which includes procedural, medication, activity, and nutrition information.

  • Before discharge, inform patients and their families about medication, lifestyle, and surgical site care.

  • Ensure that all consent documentation is completed correctly.

  • Pre- and post-catheterization examination of the patient

  • Manage cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology patients' administrative needs.

  • Monitor and record the vital signs of the patient.

  • Keep an eye out for signs and symptoms of infection or operation adverse effects.

  • During and after the surgery, keep an eye on the patient's sedative levels.

  • Patients should be prepared for operations.

  • Update the patient's charting and keep a record of the operation.

Patients may need cardiac catheterization for several reasons, including:

  • Diagnose heart disease of the heart muscle, valves, or coronary arteries

  • Heart muscle biopsy sample

  • Look for defects in the valves or chambers of the heart

  • Measure the pressure and blood flow in the heart

  • Perform a coronary angiography

  • Procedures such as heart ablation, balloon valvuloplasty, valve replacement, balloon angioplasty, and stent placement

  • Take blood samples from the four chambers of the heart to measure oxygen levels

How to Become a Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse

Nurses interested in working in a cardiac cath lab should make sure they have the necessary experience before applying.

  1. Step 1: Become a Registered Nurse:

    • The first stage is to become a registered nurse by completing in an authorized nursing school and getting an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

  2. Step 2: Acquire Experience:

    • The next step is to look for a job at a trauma center or a big cardiac hospital in your region.

  3. Step 3: Make Connections:

    • It is important to establish a solid working connection with cardiac intensivists and cardiologists after gaining the necessary expertise. This will make the move to the cath lab much easier.

  4. Step 4: Find a Job:

    • Cath lab nurses might work at either a hospital or a separate cardiac clinic. Large cities like New York City, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles are home to these hubs.


Nurses in this sector must maintain their Registered Nurse (RN) license, as well as their Basic Life Support (BLS) and Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certifications, as well as any additional qualifications necessary by the hospital. Your business will provide classes for these credentials, which are usually organized by a hospital or unit-based instructor. Furthermore, these are common workplace requirements.

Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification

Additional qualifications for cardiac cath lab nurses are strongly requested. One of them is the American Nurses Credentialing Center's Cardiac Vascular Nursing Certification (ANCC).

Requisites to Obtain a Certification on Cardiac Vascular Nursing|

In order to be eligible nurses must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a valid, active RN license in one of the United States' states or territories, or the professional, legally recognized equivalent in another nation.

  • Have worked as a registered nurse for the equivalent of two years full-time.

  • Have completed at least 2,000 hours of clinical cardiac-vascular nursing practice in the previous three years.

  • Have completed 30 hours of cardiac-vascular nurse continuing education in the previous three years.

Examination for Cardiac Vascular Nursing

The exam has 175 questions (150 scored plus 25 pretest questions) and takes 3.5 hours to complete. The certification is valid for five years and may be renewed over the internet. The exam costs $350 for non-members, but $250 for members of the American Nurses Association, $295 for members of the Preventive Cardiovascular Nurses Association, and $295 for members of the Society for Vascular Nursing.

CCRN Certification

The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses offers the CCRN (adult) certification, which is a less prevalent option.

Requisites to Become CCRN Eligible

Nurses must satisfy the following requirements to be considered:

  • Have a valid, active RN license in one of the United States' states or territories, or the professional, legally recognized equivalent in another nation.

  • Worked as an RN or APRN in direct care of acutely/critically ill adult patients for 1,750 hours in the past two years, with 875 hours in the most recent year preceding application OR

  • Practice as an RN or APRN for at least five years, with a minimum of 2,000 hours in direct care of acutely/critically sick adult patients, with at least 144 of those hours accrued in the year prior to application.

The CCRN examinations are three-hour assessments with 150 multiple-choice questions. Only 125 of the 150 items are scored, with the other 25 being utilized to compile statistical data on item performance for future tests. Nonmembers pay $360 for the exam, while AACN members pay $245.


Cardiac cath lab nurses often make more than the national average. Because of the specialty, substituting other nurses from other units is difficult, which raises the hourly wage.

Cath lab nurses make an average of $34.81 per hour, or $78,384 per year, according to Nurses with the lowest pay earn around $63,000 per year. The highest annual salary was $102,000. Experience might also help you earn more money. Here is the ist of salary on an hourly average depending on experience:

  • $28.27/hour - less than 1 year experience

  • $30.47/hour - 1 to 4 years experience

  • $33.56/hour - 5 to 9 years experience

  • $37.25/hour - 10 to 19 years experience

  • $41.00/hour - 20 years or more experience

Cardiac Cath Lab Salary by Region

An annual review of remuneration for cath lab nurses is conducted by Springboard Healthcare Staffing, a pioneer in placing cath lab nurses. The remuneration of cath lab nurses is broken down into different parts of the country in this research.

  • $47.74 per hour - West Region

  • $38.52 per hour - Northeast Region

  • $33.63 per hour - South Region

  • $34.79 per hour - Midwest Region

How to Make More Money as a Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse

Hourly Pay vs Salary

Most healthcare systems pay nurses on an hourly basis, but others, such as nurses at a free-standing surgical facility, are paid a fixed yearly income.

Hourly employees can receive overtime compensation, however salaried staff would have to debate it with the hiring committee. Furthermore, cath lab nurses may be eligible for on-call compensation, which can supplement weekly earnings.

Work Locations

As seen by salary in different sections of the country, pay often corresponds with the cost of living for a certain geographical area. The hourly rate will be greater in locations where the cost of living is higher than in areas where the cost of living is lower.


Earning potential grows with increased education and experience, as it does with other careers in the nursing sector. During yearly employee performance reviews, nurses are usually given a raise. Nurses may be able to increase their compensation by earning certifications.

Benefits of a Cardiac Cath Lab Nurse

Full-time and part-time cardiac cath lab nurses receive equal benefits regardless of job situation. While specific perks may differ by institution, the majority of them include:

  • Health insurance

  • Retirement Options

  • Family Leave of Absence

  • Maternity Leave

  • Dental Insurance

  • Vision Insurance

  • Discounts

  • Certification membership benefits

  • Tuition Reimbursement

  • Attendance at nursing conferences


Because of their specialized nature, cath lab nurses are in extremely high demand around the country.

The number of cath laboratories is growing in tandem with the growing number of hospitals gaining trauma and vascular certifications. In order to be completely functioning, all cath laboratories must have a full staff of nurses.

Nursing jobs are expected to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030, according to the BLS. While there is no specific amount for the increase in cath lab nurses, it is assumed that the demand for cardiac cath lab nurses will exceed this figure.

In the United States, cardiac illness is responsible for almost a quarter of all fatalities. With the aging of the baby boomer population, as well as the growth of sedentary habits and poor overall diets, the number of cath lab operations performed each year is growing.

The National Institutes of Health in the United States estimates that over million cardiac catheterizations are performed each year. As previously said, this number will only continue to climb, creating a significant need for cath lab nurses!

More Resources

For further information, nurses interested in a job in the cardiac cath lab may contact their hospital's employment department and clinical educators. The following websites might also provide useful information:

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