Vascular Technologist

More than 100,000 miles of arteries, veins, and capillaries in an adult human body move 5.6 liters of blood every three minutes. Blood coursing through the vessels carries waste away from cells, transports oxygen, and fights infections. As with any other part of the body, there are numerous diseases that can affect blood vessels, including aneurysms, embolisms, and deep vein thrombosis.

Allied health professionals called vascular technologists have the training and skills to use ultrasound equipment to examine blood vessels in order to aid doctors in making clinical diagnoses. Cardiac vascular technologists work with just the heart and its related vessels, while general vascular technologists can examine blood flow on the entire body. They are employed in hospitals, outpatient clinics, physicians’ offices, and medical imaging centers.

Professionals in this field must complete a vascular technologist program where they attend both classroom and lab coursework to learn vascular imaging fundamentals. Once didactic education is completed, students then move on to intensive clinical experiences to gain hands-on experience working directly with patients. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2020), jobs in this field are expected to swell 5 percent nationally between 2019 and 2029. This is only slightly above the national average for 4 percent for all jobs.

Continue reading to learn how to become a vascular technologist, including a step-by-step guide and top programs.

Vascular Technologist Specializations & Degree Types

Since the work of a vascular technologist is so specialized, education and training are essential. Programs professionals can complete include a certificate, associate, bachelor’s, or master’s. Most certificate programs require applicants to have already completed a two-year healthcare-related degree or hold a diagnostic medical ultrasound credential from a national certification agency.

While vascular technology is in and of itself a specialization, professionals in this field can further specialize in cardiac vascular technology with additional education and certifications.

Admissions Requirements for Vascular Technologist Programs

Admission to vascular technologist programs is generally very competitive. Requirements for admission vary based on the program but can include prerequisite coursework, work or shadowing experience, a minimum GPA, a completed application, letters of recommendation, and a personal essay.

Some programs may require students to complete an interview as part of the application process as well. Since programs are so competitive, applicants should strive to exceed the requirements.

Vascular Technologist Program Accreditation

Students should ensure the program they are attending is accredited as this guarantees a minimum level of quality in the faculty, facilities, and curriculum. Vascular technologist programs are accredited nationally by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). In the absence of CAAHEP accreditation, a program should be regionally accredited by an organization recognized by the United States Department of Education’s Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

On-Campus Vascular Technologist Degree Programs

Loma Linda University – School of Allied Health Professions

Students can earn a bachelor of sciences in diagnostic medical sonography at Loma Linda University’s School of Allied Health Professions. This program offers either a general vascular or cardiac emphasis.

In order to graduate from this program, students must take and pass the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) exam through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Graduates will be eligible to sit for the vascular technology (VT) specialty examination.

Applicants must complete the general education requirements for a bachelor’s degree prior to admission. Required coursework includes humanities, science, communication, and health and wellness. Applicants must also have a minimum 3.0 GPA.

  • Location: Loma Linda, CA
  • Duration: 27 months
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Tuition: $25,080 per year

Concordia University Wisconsin

The bachelor of science in diagnostic medical sonography at Concordia University Wisconsin features small class sizes, a clinical internship, and a 100 percent work placement rate six months post-graduation.

Students can choose between a general vascular emphasis or a cardiac one. Required coursework includes vascular sonography, foundations of ultrasound, and sonography principles and instrumentation. As part of the first two years of study, students will earn a certified nursing assistant (CNA) certificate.

Admission to this program is competitive, and requirements include 100 hours of CNA patient care work, a personal essay, a 3.0 GPA or higher, eight hours of shadowing diagnostic sonography, and references.

  • Location: Mequon, WI
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Tuition: $635 per credit

Online or Hybrid Vascular Technologist Degree Programs

Oregon Institute of Technology

The bachelor’s of science in vascular technology degree at Oregon Institute of Technology was the first in the nation. Students have the option of completing this program online or on campus. With two-and-a-half decades of experience educating students in this field, this program is one of the best. Since 2014, 100 percent of graduates have passed the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) certification exam.

The first year of this program is prerequisite coursework, which must be completed prior to applying to the program. The last three years are professional courses such as cardiovascular physiology, patient care in sonography, physics of med imaging, vascular anatomy, and technical report writing.

  • Location: Klamath Falls, OR
  • Duration: Four years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Tuition: $651 per credit

Jackson College

Jackson College offers a two-year associate’s of applied science in vascular technology for those new to this field and a one-year certificate for diagnostic sonographers who want to earn a vascular technologist credential. While coursework can be completed entirely online, students will need to attend a pre-clinical lab orientation in person on campus as well as complete a clinical internship at a site near their home.

Admission to this program can be quite competitive, so applicants should interview well, have high GPAs, and have either shadowing or work experience in diagnostic sonography.

  • Location: Jackson, MI
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
  • Tuition: $326.91 per credit

How Long Does it Take to Become a Vascular Technologist?

Typically, it takes at least two years of education post-high school to become a vascular technologist if an aspiring professional completes an associate degree. It takes four years to enter this field if pursuing a bachelor’s degree, which most employers prefer.

How To Become a Vascular Technologist – Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Graduate from High School or Complete a GED (Four Years)

Completing high school or obtaining a GED is the first step towards a career as a vascular technologist. Not only does a diploma or GED demonstrate a minimum level of education, but it is also required by most vascular technologist programs. Due to the competitive nature of vascular technologist programs, high school students should strive to keep a high GPA, take college preparatory classes, and gain volunteer experience in health care.

Step 2: Complete Vascular Technologist Education (Two to Four Years)

Most vascular technologist programs can be completed in two years if earning an associate’s and four years if earning a bachelor’s. Students will take extensive coursework in sonography principles, instrumentation, vascular sonography, and more. All programs also have a clinical experience component where students gain hands-on experience working directly with patients.

Step 3: Earn a Vascular Technologist Certification (Timeline Varies)

While certification is optional for vascular technologists, it is industry standard to hold one and is required by most employers. The primary certifying bodies are the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI), and the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS).

Step 4: Obtain State Licensure (Timeline Varies)

Licensing requirements for vascular technologists vary by state. It is essential that candidates contact their local boards to learn what requirements they need to meet in order to be licensed.

What Do Vascular Technologists Do?

Vascular technologists work in hospitals, outpatient clinics, medical imaging centers, and physician’s offices. Job responsibilities can vary based on place of employment but typically include:

  • Preparing patients for diagnostic procedures
  • Answering patient questions about procedures
  • Performing ultrasounds on blood vessels, veins, and arteries
  • Writing reports about ultrasound findings so a physician can make a diagnosis
  • Monitoring patient blood flow during surgery
  • Maintaining careful client records

Vascular Technologist Certifications & Licensure

Certification for a vascular technologist is optional, although may be required for employment.

Certification can be earned through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI), and the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS). Requirements vary by organization but all include education, clinical experience, and an exam.

Licensing requirements for vascular technicians vary by state and how a state classifies this field. Some states consider vascular technicians to be radiologic technicians while others may classify them as diagnostic sonographers. Vascular technicians should contact their local board to ensure they have the necessary education and training for licensure.

How Much Do Vascular Technologists Make?

Vascular technologists earn $58,730 per year on average according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019). The percentages for wages are:

  • 10th percentile: $29,340
  • 25th percentile: $38,170
  • 50th percentile (median): $56,850
  • 75th percentile: $75,240
  • 90th percentile: $93,100
Kimmy Gustafson

Kimmy Gustafson

Writer

Kimmy is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about healthcare careers and education. She has worked in public health, at health-focused nonprofits, and as a Spanish interpreter for doctor’s offices and hospitals. She has a passion for learning and that drives her to stay up to date on the latest trends in healthcare. When not writing or researching, she can be found pursuing her passions of nutrition and an active outdoors lifestyle.

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