What Are Vascular Technologists?
A vascular echo technologist assists physicians in diagnosing a variety of conditions using ultrasound technology. Applications of vascular echo technology include studying blood flow, tumors, and the effects of stroke and heart disease. These professionals often spend many work hours standing and might need to lift or move patients who need assistance. Aspiring techs can earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in the field. Those already working in healthcare might complete a 1-year certificate program to enter the field.
|Degree Level||Associate's degree|
|Degree Fields||Vascular Technology|
|Certification||Not required, but preferred by some employers|
|Key Skills||Detail-oriented, good interpersonal skills|
|Median Salary (2015)||$63,630 (for cardiovascular technicians)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What steps do I need to take to be a vascular technologist?
Complete High School
Step one is to complete high school. Aspiring vascular echo technologists can begin working toward the career while in high school. Recommended courses include general science, biology, physics and mathematics. A high school diploma or equivalent is required to enroll in a postsecondary vascular technology program.
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Earn a College Degree
Step two is to earn a college degree. The BLS states that an associate degree is the most common requirement for cardiovascular technologists, although many schools offer bachelor's degree programs. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Professionals (CAAHEP) ensures standardized training through approved programs. Completion of a CAAHEP-accredited program typically qualifies graduates for professional certification.
Associate degree programs teach invasive and noninvasive techniques using a variety of diagnostic imaging procedures, including sonography, echocardiography, and ultrasound. Students are introduced to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) imaging equipment. Classroom and lab courses teach students how to detect signs of different vascular pathologies using echocardiographic methods. These two-year programs typically require students to participate in clinical experiences.
Several schools offer four-year bachelor's degree programs for those with no previous training or two-year completion programs for graduates of an associate degree program. Students learn a variety of vascular imaging and diagnostic methods. Some programs allow students to focus on a specific specialty, such as invasive or noninvasive techniques. Clinical internships and senior research projects are commonly required.
Step three is to obtain certification. Graduation from an associate or bachelor's degree program qualifies individuals to test for the Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT) credential offered by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Depending on the accreditation status of the program, some work experience could also be required prior to applying. Candidates must pass a general sonography exam that tests the knowledge of procedures and instruments as well as a specialized exam in vascular technology. Certified vascular echo technologists qualify for more job opportunities than their non-certified counterparts.
Vascular echo technologists use ultrasound technology to study blood flow, tumors, and the effects of stroke and heart disease. They have associate's degrees, good interpersonal skills, and keen attention to detail. They may spend many hours standing or lifting and moving patients, and they earn a median annual salary of $63,630.