How to Become a Vascular Technologist

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Modern technology offers an opportunity to see what is actually happening inside the body, which can help the physician make an accurate diagnosis. Vascular imaging and sonography, or ultrasound -- the use of sound waves to show body structures on a screen -- are the province of the vascular technologist. Although a few vascular technologists learn everything on the job, most need at least an associate degree and spend one to four years in training.

Education for Vascular Technology

  • A high school diploma or GED is required to enter a vascular technology program. Begin your formal education by finding an accredited college or university that offers a post-secondary certificate or an associate or bachelor’s degree in cardiovascular or vascular technology. States regulate the practice of vascular technology and educational requirements may differ from one state to the next. Some programs have specific prerequisites. At Southeast Technical Institute, for example, students must have a grade of “C” or higher in chemistry, physics and math to enter the vascular technology program. Beginning in 2015, Southeast Tech students must be certified nursing assistants or complete the CNA program prior to the vascular technology program. Most schools also perform background checks and drug screens.

About the Programs

  • Vascular technology is a component of the practice of cardiovascular technology, according to the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs. A vascular technologist must be able to perform an examination in any part of the body, so a thorough knowledge of anatomy is essential. Vascular technology courses typically include anatomy, physiology, chemistry, physics, medical terminology, psychology and patient care. All programs have a clinical component, in which the student actually performs imaging and ultrasound studies under the supervision of an experienced technologist or instructor.

Licensing and Certification

  • In some states, vascular technologists must be licensed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The tech must graduate from an accredited program, pass a licensing exam and pay a licensing fee. Even in states that don’t require a license, many employers hire only certified vascular technologists, as insurance providers and Medicare pay only for exams performed by a certified tech, according to the BLS. The American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography offers a certification called the RVT, or Registered Vascular Technologist. To become certified, you must pass two exams. The first is a physics exam called Sonography Principles and Instrumentation, and the second is a specialty examination in vascular technology. The examination fee for this certification was $75 in 2014, according to the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.

Job Outlook and Salary

  • The BLS projects the number of jobs for cardiovascular technologists and technicians such as vascular technologists to grow 30 percent from 2012 and 2022 -- nearly three times the average for all occupations. Most vascular technologists work in hospitals, but the BLS notes the outpatient field is expanding rapidly due to the shift toward outpatient care. In the future, job opportunities are more likely to be in physicians’ offices and medical and diagnostic laboratories. The average salary for this occupation was $53,990 in 2013, according to the BLS.

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