By the time you become a cardiologist (a medical specialist dealing with heart-related conditions) you already have, at minimum, 10 years of education and training under your belt, according to the California Chapter of the American College of Cardiology. But simply becoming a cardiologist may not be your final destination. There are several different types of opportunities for such specialists to advance their careers.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics lists a number of ways you can advance professionally. You may choose to leverage your expertise and reputation among your peers and patients to start your own practice. You can also pool talent with other heart specialists to launch a group practice. The monetary rewards, BLS notes, can be substantial—far exceeding the nearly $175,000 mean annual wage for a cardiologist reported in 2009. Just keep in mind you'll need to set aside monies for retirement and health insurance.
You may wish to take what you've learned over the years and teach others: residents or new doctors. During the three to six years a resident (or fellow) is being trained specifically in cardiology, according to the ACC, there are many opportunities to teach these aspiring specialists. Unlike other disciplines, you are not required to have specialized degrees in education. Many faculty members at, for example, Tufts Medical Center, tout board certifications in specialties in multiple areas, as well as substantial post-graduate cardio education.
You can choose to work your way through the ranks at a hospital or clinic. By that, you can develop enough of a reputation and get enough years under you to assume a supervisory or managerial role in such settings, according to the BLS. Your salary will grow accordingly, but can vary dramatically among other supervisors, based off of where you work geographically, the number of years you have practiced and your professional reputation, based on your personality (bedside manner) and skill set.
You can become even more specialized. There are pediatric cardiologists, who boast both three years of training in pediatrics and another three years (at minimum) in pediatric cardiology, according to the Minnesota Chapter of the ACC. Other heart-related areas for specialization, according to the American Board of Medical Specialties, include advanced heart failure and transplant cardiology, and clinical cardiac electrophysiology (complex study of heart rhythm).