It’s the new year, which signals a time for reevaluation and fresh starts. At the beginning of the new year, many workers across the nation take stock of their job, wages, and overall satisfaction. It’s also a time when many people consider taking steps towards advancement in their careers, whether that means taking additional classes to increase knowledge or working towards an industry certification.
It’s a good time for allied health and other healthcare professionals to reevaluate their careers as well. Fortunately, allied health professionals are in high demand. With the shortage of cardiovascular lab workers and the increased demand for atrial fibrillation services among an aging population, growth in lab jobs will continue over the next few decades. The high demand makes it easy to find a job, but how do lab workers know if they are being fairly compensated? Or how do they know the right steps to take in their career?
Nurses, technologists, and specialists working in busy electrophysiology (EP) and cath labs across the nation don’t often have the time or the right tools to fully explore compensation and get a clear understanding as to whether or not their wage is competitive. Healthcare professionals need a big-picture perspective of trends and compensation across the country to help them understand if their compensation is competitive and assist them in making important career decisions.
Results from SpringBoard Healthcare’s nationwide wage survey of nurses, technicians, and specialists working in cardiac catheterization, electrophysiology and interventional radiology labs, which was conducted in October 2016, can provide that needed perspective. Considered the gold standard of wage surveys for the industry, the 2016-2017 Cath Lab, EP, and IR Wage Survey was designed to provide comprehensive insight into the salaries and wages of employees in that sector. The results, based on the data from almost 2000 participants, highlight salary and wage differences based on job type, experience, facility type, credentials, and state and region.
The survey results provide valuable information to those working in the field, and can be used to make important decisions about compensation, continuing education certification, and career path. Using the data, workers may decide to seek a raise, earn credentials, or pursue other work arrangements. Here are a few highlights from the survey that may provide some immediate value to healthcare professionals.
Strong Historical Wage Growth
Survey results indicated strong wage growth across all licensures from 2011 to 2017. This coincides with the overall trends in healthcare job growth, given the need for more workers to support healthcare reform and the demands of the aging population. Radiologic technologist (RT) wages grew by almost six percent from 2011 to 2017, while registered nurses (RN) and cardiovascular technologists (CVT) experienced wage increases of almost 10 percent. In the West, Northeast, and Southern regions, CVTs had the strongest wage growth. One factor may be the emerging emphasis on certification for CVTs, such as the registered cardiac electrophysiology specialist (RCES) and registered cardiovascular invasive specialist (RCIS) administered by Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI). Additionally, 29 percent of survey respondents (RNs, CVTs, and RTs) who achieved certification also received an increase in compensation (Figure 1).
Across all positions, experience emerged as a key driver in compensation. Compared to entry-level positions, employees with ten years of experience or more earned higher wages. In fact, RNs earned 50 percent more, RTs earned 51 percent more, and CVTs earned 36 percent more. More specifically, an RN with over 10 years’ experience earns an average of $14 more per hour than an entry level RN. The same is true for other lab workers. RTs earn $13 more per hour than entry level workers, and CVTs earn $9 more (Figure 2).
Regional Data Follows Expected Trends
The West has consistently recorded the highest average wage across all positions, while the South has consistently been the lowest, and 2017 was no different. For example, the average RN wage in the West is about $13 higher than in the South. For RTs, wages are $8 higher than the South, and for CVTs, it’s $9 higher. However, the difference between wages in the West and the South has grown even more pronounced, rising by about $2 within the last two years to create a total gap of approximately $12 per hour between RNs and CVTs. RN travel staff earned higher wages by over $6-12 per hour, in almost every region. As expected, on-call rates correlate with regional hourly wage trends. RNs, RTs, and CVTs in the Western region earned 45 percent, 16 percent, and 20 percent more than the next highest region, which was the Northeast. On-call rates are new to the survey, in response to past survey participant requests (Figure 3).
Consistent National Trends Among Salaried Management
The majority of managers and directors who earned six-figure salaries had over 10 years of experience, indicating the importance that experience plays in determining higher pay. Managers and directors in rural markets consistently earned less in all regions. Management was also compensated for higher levels of education. Additionally, 60 percent of directors in the Northeast and 68 percent in the Midwest regions took call. Conversely, only 27 percent of directors in the West took call, and only 13 percent of directors in the South took call (Figure 4).
Regional Trends in Wage Satisfaction
Not surprisingly, higher hourly wages correlated to higher wage satisfaction. Across the Western region, employees were approximately 65 percent satisfied with their compensation. However, in all other regions, employee wage satisfaction fell to 35 percent on average (Figure 5).
With a big-picture perspective of the industry, lab workers are armed with valuable information to help them advance their careers. The data further informs decisions about compensation, continuing education, certification, and career path. Using this information, healthcare professionals may decide to seek a raise, earn credentials, or pursue other work arrangements. Whatever decisions are reached, taking the time to be informed about the industry and reevaluating career options will help allied health and other healthcare professionals get off to a good start in this new year.
The 2016-2017 Cath Lab, EP and IR Wage Survey Results are available at http://www.springboardhealthcare.com/resources
Disclosure: The author has no conflicts of interest to report regarding the content herein.