National data released on compensation trends
Despite a sputtering economy, nationwide opportunities for cath lab professionals to earn higher than average wages exist, with the best-paying positions in the western United States, according to findings from a recent survey. This is welcomed news despite cath labs across the country experiencing decreased procedural volumes, percentage of overtime being reduced, and being asked to do more with less manpower. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the demand for cardiovascular and radiologic technologists will increase about 20 percent between 2008 and 20181, which is a rate higher than other professions. This percent increase should be taken in context considering the COURAGE trial, published in March 2007, which showed a need for optimal medical therapy in stable angina patients prior to stenting, the introduction of second-generation drug-eluting stents in July 2008, which dramatically reduced rates of repeat revascularization, and recent allegations of inappropriate stenting in multiple states. These three stories have led to nationwide decreases in procedural volumes across the country.
SpringBoard Healthcare in Phoenix, Arizona, surveyed more than 1,500 respondents in August 2011 to determine industry compensation among cath lab professionals.
In addition to comparing wages by region, the data reveals how credentials, the service delivery setting and employment type — from management to on-call positions — influence these workers’ hourly rate of pay.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for U.S. workers is $23.18 per hour (as of November 2011).2 Based on the survey results, most cath lab personnel earn well above that amount, making them some of the best-compensated hourly employees.
Some of the highest paid cath lab professionals work in travel medicine — averaging an additional $10 per hour — sometimes earning more than $42 total per hour, depending on certification type. That’s approximately 30 percent more than those with permanent or PRN status.
“Travel medicine professionals are in demand among hospitals and healthcare facilities,” said Gavin Hays, chief executive officer of Springboard. “Due to the shortage of employees, travel medicine professionals can command higher wages, too.”
The survey also revealed the western region of the U.S. pays more than other regions. There, cath lab professionals have the potential to average 20 percent higher wages than their peers in other areas of the country.
Hays also noted another surprising fact based on the survey findings —that is, practitioners who work in a vendor or industry setting (i.e., pharmaceutical or medical manufacturing) are earning $12 more per hour than those in hospitals or private practice. That makes them the highest-paid practitioners in the industry.
Mid-range pay came to those working in hospitals, academia and government and military facilities.
"Experience is key to determining income potential,” said Hays. “Where there was disparity in the survey findings, we noticed the level of experience of our respondents varied as well.”
Based on the survey data, cath lab professionals with 10 or more years of experience make an average of 30 percent more than those with 1-5 years of experience.
To review the full report on the wage survey findings, visit http://www.springboardstaffing.com/cath_lab_survey.php. For average hourly wages, the survey results have a confidence level of 95 percent and an 8.25 percent margin of error.
SpringBoard Healthcare Staffing & Search is a Joint Commission-certified recruiting and placement firm for healthcare facilities in need of radiation, oncology, imaging and therapy professionals. The boutique firm credits its 90-percent customer retention rate to its long-lasting employer partnerships, personalized customer service, specialized market focus, consistent delivery of flexible staffing solutions and candidate assignments, and its advisory board of experts. Headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., SpringBoard can be reached at 866-Go Locum (465-6286) or www.springboardstaffing.com.
- Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor. Available online at http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos105.htm. Accessed December 20, 2011.
- The Employment Situation — November 2011. Economic News Release. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Department of Labor. Available online at http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm. Accessed December 20, 2011.
2011-2012 Cath Lab Wage Survey Summary
Methodology: An online survey sponsored by SpringBoard Healthcare Staffing & Search was conducted among cath lab professionals nationwide during the summer of 2011. The survey yielded 1,546 responses and has a margin of error of 8.25 percent and a 95 percent confidence level, for average hourly wages.
Survey Sample: Survey respondents were:
- Geographically dispersed throughout the United States
- Certified to perform their jobs with one or more of the following credentials: CVT, RT(R), RN/CCR or RCIS, among others.
- Largely identified as staff versus managers and supervisors
- Primarily permanent employees versus travelers or those with PRN status
- Professionals with CCL experience (50 percent noted 10 or more years)
Key Findings: Cath lab professionals are some of the most highly compensated workers in the nation. The average hourly wage for all Americans is $23.18, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics November 2011 report (in August 2011, at the time of this survey, the report indicated the average hourly wage at $23.09). In contrast, SpringBoard Staffing’s survey respondents report that they earn well above that amount.
The survey data strongly suggests that employment opportunities and wages for cath lab professionals will continue to grow. This is particularly true for cardiology support specialists.
- Type of credentials held;
- Geographic region based on trends in supply and demand for workers;
- Service delivery setting as revenue and reimbursement varies by facility and therefore impacts wage scales; and
- Employment type, such as management levels, on-call status, and permanent versus contract positions.
More specifically, reasons for disparity in average hourly pay can be linked to the type of certification, rather than simply the number of certifications. This speaks to the importance of the cath lab professional’s ability to competently deliver advanced nursing care to patients.
The survey data also shows the highest hourly rates of pay for cath lab professionals were generally in the western U.S. and lowest wages were in the Midwest, due to variances in demand for talent.
Finally, respondents reported that management status, on-call availability, and a willingness to work in travel medicine all command additional pay.