A 2-year associate's program in cardiovascular technology is the most common academic path for vascular technicians. Some of these programs have a vascular technology concentration. Students examine theoretical concepts and clinical applications, while learning the skills necessary to perform cardiovascular procedures; programs typically include a combination of coursework, hands-on labs and clinical practica. Applicants to these programs must have a high-school diploma or its equivalent and may need to complete prerequisite science coursework.
Bachelor's programs in cardiovascular technology are often designed for working technicians or technologists seeking career advancement or for professionals in closely related medical imaging fields. These programs may include both lecture-based courses and clinical experiences. Applicants must have a high-school diploma or GED.
Associate's Degree Programs in Cardiovascular Technology
Associate's degree programs in cardiovascular technology prepare students for careers in invasive and non-invasive cardiology and vascular technology. The curriculum is composed of classroom lectures and laboratory components. Clinical experiences usually begin during the second year of study. Courses include:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Principles of medicine
- Medical instrumentation
- Non-invasive diagnostic procedures
- Invasive diagnostic procedures
Bachelor's Degree in Cardiovascular Technology
Bachelor's degree programs are typically four years in length, but some bachelor's degree programs in cardiovascular technology are offered as degree-completion programs that are shorter. Degree-completion programs are suited for those who have a degree in another area and wish to receive training in vascular technology, or for current vascular technicians and technologists who have only completed an associate's degree. Some programs are designed to provide a foundation for graduate-level study. Some degree-completion programs require applicants to be registered vascular technologists, while others require students to complete an associate's degree at an affiliated college.
Students receive a traditional liberal arts undergraduate education along with the skills necessary to work as a vascular technician or technologist. Topics of study include:
- Cardiovascular physiology
- Clinical pharmacology
- Radiographic vascular anatomy
- Healthcare management
- Medical imaging
Popular Career Options
Vascular technicians and technologists work mostly in the cardiology departments of public and private hospitals. Other vascular technician employers include:
- Physicians' offices
- Medical and diagnostic laboratories
- Diagnostic imaging centers
- Ambulatory care centers
- Outpatient care centers
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, employment for diagnostic cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists, was expected to grow by 22% during the period from 2014-2024 - much faster than average. Growth is anticipated in part due to the increasing elderly population and the increased use of vascular technology as an alternative to more invasive procedures. In 2015, the mean annual wage for cardiovascular technicians and technologists was $56,100.
Certification and Continuing Education
Although certification is voluntary, most employers prefer to hire credentialed candidates. Cardiovascular Credentialing International (www.cci-online.org) offers a Registered Vascular Specialist credential to applicants who meet the requirements and pass an exam. Continuing education is required to maintain credentials. According to the BLS, job opportunities may be best for vascular technicians and technologists who are trained in multiple procedures. Technicians and technologists may consider continuing their education to earn certifications in additional areas.
Students who are interested in a career as a vascular technician can earn either an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree. Although certification is not required after graduation, it is highly recommended as employers prefer certified technicians.