Hi a.caroline, I got my first hospital job in 1993 as an EKG tech, then became an echo tech, and finally an RN in 2004. I've tried to change specialties once or twice but have concluded that cardiac is my "thing." I love it. So my advice may be a little biased
First the money -- I must be in a low-paying area (NC) because I don't make close to $30 an hour. Granted, my job is 8-to-5 so I'd imagine nurses on the floor make a little more. I've worked a few positions for this facility and overtime is universally frowned upon; I only occasionally pick some up by taking call. That said, cardiac experience can be a stepping stone to higher-paying specialties and can give you an edge in future job hunts. I suspect the cardiac nurses you know in the float pool are in high demand among the NMs, and that's why they make more!
One thing you will find in cardiac is an abundance of adrenaline junkies and driven, type-A personalities. Because cardiac experience is essential in critical care and advanced practice nursing, you will work with a lot of smart, highly motivated people preparing for, or in, advanced degree programs. You will have to be on your toes all the time and know exactly what to do when the worst happens -- and at some point, it will.
Many of the rest of us cardiac types are just plain geeks. The heart is cool because it's plumbing, electricity, and mechanics. It's math and physics and pressure gradients and med titration. You have to crunch a lot of numbers. And you HAVE to learn your rhythms -- all of them -- up, down, and inside out. Then you move on to 12-leads
As to "the best heart unit to work on," that's impossible to say because it depends on your strengths and "likes" as a nurse. What's great is that there are so many options in cardiac. A tele unit is the "med surg" of cardiac nursing and the place you're most likely to get hired as a new grad. I also know cath lab, CVOR, and CCU nurses who got their jobs right out of school, usually because they'd made such a good impression as students.
Aside of the hospital-based career paths, there is office/clinic nursing, cardiac rehab and stress testing, corporate wellness, diagnostic imaging, and research to name a few. But really, the most important thing is that you truly find cardiac nursing interesting and love to learn.
That, and never forgetting there is a Real Live Patient behind all those monitors
As for your clinicals, a tele floor is always a good bet, but if there's something that particularly interests you, there's no harm in asking -- as a student, you have that luxury! Good luck with whatever you decide :heartbeat