Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT): Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for registered vascular technologists. Read about certification, job duties, salary and education requirements to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Cardiovascular Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT)?

Vascular technologists, also known as vascular sonographers, specialize in the use of noninvasive diagnostic equipment that generates images of patients' arteries and veins. Sometimes, they conduct these tests during surgical operations. Based on the data they collect, doctors can identify blood flow problems and diagnose associated disorders. Typically, a vascular technologists will measure a patient's blood pressure and the volume of blood in various extremities, then use ultrasound equipment to determine critical information like oxygen saturation and the presence of blood cots. Although registration is not required by the state, vascular technologists who earn professional certifications are often preferred by potential employers.

Take a look at the following chart for an overview of how to enter this profession.

Degree Required Associate's or bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Vascular technology, diagnostic medical sonography
Key Responsibilities Conduct tests on &/or produce images of patient arteries & veins
Licensure Required Certification required by Medicare, many insurance providers and most employers
Job Growth (2014-2024 ) 22% (for all cardiovascular technologists and technicians)*
Median Salary (2017) $66,603**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com.

How Do I Get Certified as a Registered Vascular Technologist?

Becoming a vascular technologist, also called a vascular sonographer, doesn't require certification, but many employers prefer technologists who are certified. The Registered Vascular Technician credential is awarded by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Although the ARDMS offers several eligibility options, you'll need to have completed a formal training program or gained some relevant work experience to apply. Then, you need to pass two tests - one on sonography principles and instrumentation and one on vascular technology - to earn your RVT credential. Continuing education may be required to keep your certification current.

What Will My Job Duties Be?

As a registered vascular technologist, you'll perform noninvasive tests on the vascular system, which includes the veins and arteries. These tests aid doctors in diagnosing blood flow problems. You might check for abnormalities by listening to a patient's blood flow or use ultrasound equipment to record information about the vascular system, such as oxygen saturation or blood pressure. Such tests are often performed during or immediately following surgery.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), about 68% of medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists, were employed in hospitals as of 2014 (www.bls.gov). The BLS notes that most other jobs are available in outpatient settings, such as physician offices and diagnostic laboratories. Because you may need to help with patients in emergency situations, you could sometimes have to work evenings, weekends or overnight shifts. Physical stamina is considered important for this field, because you may have to lift patients or spend a lot of time on your feet.

What Might My Salary Be?

According to the BLS, the job outlook for this field is excellent. Employment of all cardiovascular technologists and technicians, which includes vascular technologists, is expected to increase by 7% between 2018 and 2028. This is faster than the average growth rate for all U.S. occupations. Based on national salary data provided by PayScale.com in November 2019, RVTs in the 10th to 90th percentile of the pay range earned between $49,000 and $89,000 per year working in this field, including bonuses, with a median salary of $66,603.

How Do I Train for this Career?

Several educational options exist for becoming a registered vascular technologist, but an associate degree is the most commonly pursued path. Alternatively, some colleges and universities offer bachelor's degrees in this field. If you already have a degree or experience in a health care field, you might be able to get started as a vascular technologist by completing a 1-year certificate program or even with some on-the-job training.

An associate degree in vascular technology or diagnostic medical sonography typically takes two years to complete and includes a combination of classroom instruction, lab work and outside clinical experiences. Such programs are usually offered at community or technical colleges. Some of the courses you might take include anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, ultrasound equipment, ultrasound physics, pathophysiology, vascular procedures and patient care. You'll also learn about a variety of vascular diseases and conditions.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you want to get a job assisting physicians with the diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular conditions, you could also consider becoming a cardiovascular invasive specialist. Rather than using noninvasive imaging techniques, like vascular technologists, you would help doctors insert catheters and other medical devices into patients' hearts for diagnostic and treatment purposes. Alternatively, if you are particularly interested in medical imaging using ultrasound technology, you could become a diagnostic medical sonographer with a specialization in a non-cardiovascular area, such as abdominal or breast sonography. For any of these jobs, you usually need to earn an associate's degree or complete a postsecondary certificate program. Optional professional certifications are also available.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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