Top Five Reasons to be a Perfusionist

We’ve talked a lot on our SpecialtyCare site about what it means to be a perfusionist. Now let’s talk about the absolute best reasons you should consider going for it. If you’ve been tossing the idea around but haven’t made the decision, here are some reasons you should consider a perfusionist career.

You Get To Help Save Lives

Here’s the thing about perfusion: every case is serious. The very nature of its existence only allows it to be called upon when a patient needs a major surgery of some kind. Whether it’s an organ transplant, heart bypass or some other cardiac surgery, the patient’s life will at least partially be in your hands. Making sure a human being stays safe on the operating table and successfully pulls through all the way to recovery can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life- and you get to do it again and again.

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As a perfusionist, your job is not only to take care of the patient but to take care of their loved ones as well. Making the connection happen between a vulnerable patient and their family and friends is almost as important as the surgery itself. And let’s not forget you will also be taking care of the surgeon to an extent. When the surgeon or surgeons have confidence in you, they can relax and just concentrate on the operation, which is where their focus needs to be in the first place.


There’s A Huge Shortage

To give you a better idea of just how many people haven’t caught on to a perfusionist career yet, check out these stats. According to the 2017 annual report from, less than 400 people took the perfusion certification exam last year. To put things into perspective, there are 245 million adults in the U.S., and around 90,000 of them take the MCAT every year. Less than 400 people feels pretty small right about now.

Two years ago, a sample was taken from 10 percent of active perfusionists in the field. The study revealed that nearly 50 percent were over 50 years old, and the industry doesn’t have nearly enough new graduates coming in. What does this mean? You should strike now while the iron is hot. Right now, perfusionists are more in-demand than ever. This means more job opportunities at a higher salary all across the country.

The Money Is Good

Not that the salary is every healthcare professional’s top priority, but the starting salary of a perfusionist, coupled with the relatively low cost of education may be enough to persuade you.

“The perfusion profession has seen a steep increase in starting salaries,” said Tom Coley, SpecialtyCare’s president of perfusion service. “We are seeing starting salaries from the low six figures up to 125,000 depending on location.”

And according to, the average salary of a perfusionist is $129,000. Considering the average cost of tuition for training is around $65,000, that’s a pretty solid return of investment. And the average salary in this field is far above the national average salary of the U.S. and Canada.

Training May Only Take Two Years

According to the American Academy of Cardiovascular Perfusion, a truly effective perfusion training program will require a bachelor’s degree. However, if you have a bachelor’s degree in the sciences already, then you can be well on your way to applying to a two-year program. Many of these programs will offer a certificate of completion and continued support as you prepare for your certification exam with The American Board of Cardiovascular Perfusion as well as any state exams (if applicable).

Everyone must pass the ABCP exam in order to become a certified perfusionist, but before that happens, all students must also complete a training program that is affiliated with an academic medical center. A minimum of 150 hours is required for completion. You also have the option to obtain a master’s degree in perfusion that will teach the same skills and give the same prep assistance for certifications. On that note…

Tuition is Inexpensive

No, that was not a typo. We know in this day and age, the cost of tuition can be intimidating. Since most perfusion schools only take two years, tuition rates overall are relatively inexpensive compared to other medical programs. The average tuition costs for colleges offering a perfusion technology or perfusionist program is $32,290 per academic year for undergraduate and $30,282 for graduate level. Other smaller programs are even more affordable.

If you were considering perfusion as a career at all, we hope this list helps solidify your decision.