Cardiovascular Operating Room Nurse Salary Guide

Cardiovascular operating room RNs are specialty nurses who assist with heart surgeries. They're involved before, during and after the operation to provide care to the patient. CVOR nurses monitor the patient throughout the process and participate in developing the care plan. They may help prepare the operating room and equipment before the surgery, then assist the rest of the surgical team during the procedure, which might include administering medications. They also handle patient care after the surgery. Working as a cardiovascular operating room RN is often fast-paced and demanding because the stakes are high, and the surgeries can be urgent situations.

How do you become a cardiovascular operating room RN?

The path to becoming a CVOR nurse starts like all other specialties. You must complete an accredited nursing program to earn your degree and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam. Then, apply to your state board of nursing for RN licensure.

Cardiovascular operating room nurses require advanced skills. Working as an RN in related areas, such as critical care, cardiovascular health, general operating rooms and surgery recovery units, can help you gain skills that transfer to the position. You typically need some nursing experience in related areas before you can get a job as a CVOR nurse.

What credentials/licensing does a cardiovascular operating room RN require?

The most basic credential you need is your nursing license. The Basic Life Support (BLS) certification focuses on what to do during cardiovascular emergencies and is required of all RNs. Because this specialty involves critical care for cardiovascular patients, many facilities prefer, or may even require, Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS) certification.

While other professional credentials may or may not be required universally, earning certifications related to the field can help prepare you for the position and find an initial job or advancement. Some hospitals might require additional credentials for CVOR nurses. If you want to specialize in working with pediatric patients, you might work toward the Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) credential, which focuses on life-saving care for children. Another helpful option is the Certified Nurse Operating Room (CNOR) credential, which focuses on perioperative care.

Average Cardiovascular Operating Room Nurse Salary


The average salary for a Cardiovascular Operating Room Nurse is $48.47 per hour. This is 8% higher than the nursing US average of $44.53.

Last updated on April 23, 2024. Based on active jobs on

Salaries for Cardiovascular Operating Room Nurse compared to Registered Nurse National Averages


8% higher than the nursing US average.


United States

Where do Cardiovascular Operating Room Nurses get paid the most?
StateAverage Hourly SalaryMax Hourly Salary
What are the highest paying Employers and Agencies for Cardiovascular Operating Room Nurse jobs?

Last updated on April 23, 2024. Information based on active jobs on and pay data from BLS and around the web.

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Cardiovascular Operating Room Nurse Career Guide

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How can you increase your pay as a cardiovascular operating room RN?

Earning a bachelor's or master's degree in nursing could result in higher pay as a CVOR nurse. You might also make more if you gain additional clinical experience, during your nursing program or in your nursing work, in related fields like cardiovascular health or operating room settings. Earning as many credentials as possible can help, and you might consider moving to a state that pays more.

How much does a staff cardiovascular operating room (CVOR) registered nurse make?

Cardiovascular operating room (CVOR) registered nurses (RNs) were among the higher-paying specialties on May 10, 2023, earning an average of $49.46 per hour, per salary data from Vivian Health. Compared to the average U.S. nursing salary of $41.98 per hour, CVOR nurses made an average of 15% more.

Is cardiovascular operating room RN a growing career?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) groups all nurses together for job outlook information. According to May 2021 data, the BLS projects that all RN careers to increase by 6% from 2021 to 2031. Hospitals and outpatient care centers that offer services, including surgery, are expected to see job growth.

What type of employers/facilities have the most cardiovascular operating room RNs?

Regarding the work location for RNs, general medical and surgical hospitals rank as the top employer type, making up nearly 31% of industry employment, per BLS data in May 2022. This facility type should also be a top employer for CVOR nurses since many cardiovascular surgeries occur in a hospital setting. Specialty hospitals employ another 23% of RNs, which might include standalone surgical hospitals that may require CVOR nurses. Another 15% of RNs work in outpatient care centers. CVOR nurses could potentially find employment at ambulatory surgery centers, so they may be included in this percentage, as well.

Which employers/facilities have the highest pay?

BLS data from May 2022 offers pay ranking information for RNs in all specialties, so the best-paying options for a CVOR nurse could be different. Per this data, the highest-paying industries for RNs are outside healthcare and wouldn’t include CVOR nurses. Of those within healthcare, outpatient care centers have the highest pay at $97,200, followed by specialty hospitals at $91,290, then general medical and surgical hospitals at $90,600.

How does cardiovascular operating room RN pay compare to similar healthcare jobs?

Cardiovascular operating room RNs are among the highest-paid nursing specialties, per Vivian Health’s May 10, 2023 salary data. However, other specialties offered similar wages on this date, including labor and delivery nursing salaries, averaging $48.39 per hour. Other nursing specialties paid less, such as intensive care unit nursing salaries at $42.42 per hour, and long-term care RN salaries, averaging $43.68 hourly. Nurses who take on more responsibilities often earn a little more. For instance, nurse manager salaries averaged $50.22 per hour on this date.

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Cardiovascular Operating Room Nurse FAQs

What is a CVOR RN?

Cardiovascular operating room nurses are a vital part of the cardiovascular surgical services team as they provide direct patient care in the CVOR surgical suite. CVOR nursing is a highly specialized field, making CVOR nurses in high demand across the nation. Most CVOR RNs work in hospital operating rooms, but they may also work in dedicated cardiovascular surgery centers. Due to their advanced clinical knowledge of cardiac operative procedures, CVOR nursing is among the highest-paid nursing specialties, but salaries vary based on several factors.

CVOR nurses are registered nurses who specialize in caring for cardiovascular patients before, during, and after surgical procedures. They assist throughout operations and continuously monitor patients and alert the surgical team of any concerns. CVOR RNs coordinate the entire OR with respect to sterility, availability of functioning equipment and supplies, and providing critical quality control to ensure patients’ safety.

Prospective nurses can enter the field by completing an Associate Degree in Nursing from a program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). However, due to the specialized surgical assisting skills required for CVOR nurses, many employers prefer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or higher. All nursing school graduates must pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. Following licensure, some facilities require completion of a CVOR nursing course and departmental training program.

How a CVOR RN salary is based

Experience is a primary factor in how a CVOR RN salary is based since most hospitals prefer CVOR nurses to have prior operating room experience. It takes hands-on experience to excel as a CVOR RN, so the number of years a nurse has worked in a CVOR setting can make a difference in their salary base. Entry-level CVOR nurses generally make significantly less than those at mid-career and even less than those with more than 10 years of experience.

Because many facilities prefer BSN-educated nurses in the CVOR field, education level also plays a role in how salaries are based. Whether a CVOR nurse has obtained additional knowledge and skills, such as advanced cardiac operative procedure knowledge and enhanced lifesaving skills, can also be factors. Relevant certifications also may impact base salaries.

Basic Life Support certification is required. Many facilities also prefer, and sometimes require, Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support. Career progression and salary also can be influenced by whether CVOR nurses hold professional certifications in the field. Studies have shown that certified nurses usually earn more annually compared to nurses who don’t hold certifications.

Experienced cardiovascular operating room nurses are in demand across the country, but some locations pay better salaries than others. Like other nursing roles, California is usually the highest paying location for CVOR RNs with several California cities among the highest paying locales. States in the northeastern and western parts of the country also tend to pay well. However, many higher-paying locations also have higher costs of living that may offset the difference.

How to increase your CVOR RN salary

CVOR nurses already earn competitive wages due to the complex nature and advanced training required in these positions. However, additional education and professional certifications can increase this salary even further.

Earning the Certified Perioperative Nurse (CNOR) credential from the Competency & Credentialing Institute (CCI) is a mark of distinction and indicates an RN has extensive knowledge in the field. Applicants must currently be working as perioperative nurses and have a minimum of two years and 2,400 hours of experience in perioperative nursing, including at least 1,200 hours in an intraoperative setting. The CNOR credential must be renewed every five years.

Completing an accredited master’s or doctoral program in nursing can prepare RNs to become clinical nurse specialists in the perioperative field. As a CNS, you can pursue the Clinical Nurse Specialist Perioperative Certification credential (CNS-CP) from CCI. This certification validates an RNs perioperative competency at an advanced practice level and can greatly enhance salary potential. RNs must have completed a minimum of two years and 2,400 hours of experience in perioperative nursing with at least 50% of these hours in an intraoperative setting. The CNS-CP is also a five-year credential that must be renewed.

Where can I learn more about working as a CVOR Nurse?

Take a look at Vivian's CVOR Nurse Career Guide for more information, including required education, responsibilities, pros and cons and more.