How Can I Become a Registered Vascular Technician?

Research what it takes to become a registered vascular technician. Learn about job duties, registration and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Cardiovascular Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Registered Vascular Technician?

Vascular technicians, also known as vascular technologists or vascular sonographers, use ultrasound and other types of equipment to measure how blood and oxygen flow through the body's extremities. In addition to the interpersonal skills needed to work with patients and the technical know-how required to maintain equipment, these technicians need an ability to recognize and record evidence of any abnormalities that come up during a procedure. This information can help doctors identify blockages in arteries and diagnose vascular diseases and disorders. Jobs for these professionals can be found at hospitals, clinics and other medical centers.

The following chart gives you an overview of how to enter this field.

Degree Required Associate's degree, postsecondary certificate
Education Field of Study Vascular technology, sonography
Key Responsibilities Measure patient's blood pressure, volume, flow; check oxygen saturation; record findings & discuss with physician
Certification Required Medicare requires certification; many employers & insurance providers require certification
Job Growth (2014-2024 ) 22% (for all cardiovascular technologists and technicians)*
Average Salary (2015) $56,100 (for all cardiovascular technologists and technicians)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Would I Do as a Vascular Technician?

As a vascular technician, you're part of a team of specialists who work with the cardiovascular system to confirm that it's working properly or otherwise diagnose abnormalities. Using sonography, you check a patient's blood circulation in arteries and veins. You also check blood pressure, oxygen levels, pulse and blood flow. You communicate your test results to a physician or nurse who would use the data to make a diagnosis or choose a treatment. Other duties include taking patient medical histories and maintaining equipment.

What Education Do I Need?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most vascular technologists attend a 2-year training program that results in an associate's degree (www.bls.gov). The Commission for Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs approves cardiovascular technology programs at the certificate, associate's degree and bachelor's degree levels (www.caahep.org). In a training program, you study the fundamentals of the cardiovascular system and learn the techniques you would use on the job. In the second year, you often get to choose a specialty, such as invasive or noninvasive vascular sonography. Most programs seek to prepare you to take certification examinations.

How Do I Become Registered?

Professional credentials as a vascular technologist are optional, but you'll want to be aware that most employers, as well as Medicare and many healthcare insurance providers, require that vascular technologists be certified. You can choose from a few options, each of which has its own eligibility requirements in terms of training and experience. You can pursue a Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT) designation from the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, which consists of an exam testing your knowledge of sonography principles and instrumentation and a specialized exam on vascular technology (www.ardms.org). You're eligible to take the 2-part exam after you satisfy the correct balance of education and experience; for example, you can complete an approved 2-year training program and one year of full-time vascular tech experience.

Cardiovascular Credentialing International offers a similar designation as a Registered Vascular Specialist (RVS) (www.cci-online.org). You are eligible to take the one-part certification exam with a balance of work and schooling, such as finishing two years of work experience or graduating from an accredited training program in vascular sonography.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you're interested in diagnostic imaging technologies, you might also want to consider a job as a diagnostic medical sonographer. Possible specializations within the field include abdominal sonography, pediatric sonography and musculoskeletal sonography. Another closely related option is a job as a radiographic or MRI technologist. These professionals operate machines that use radiation to create images that can help physicians diagnose many different diseases and conditions. They need an associate's degree and sometimes certification in order to get a job.

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