- A vascular technologist uses different ultrasound equipment to assist doctors in investigating and monitoring abnormalities that may cause vascular disorders.
- The American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) administers the Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT) certification exam.
- A degree or certification is needed to apply for the RVT certification. The ARDMS defines prerequisites.
- The Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) administers the Registered Vascular Specialist (RVS) certification exam.
- The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Professionals (CAAHEP) is the organization that lists the accredited programs for the degree in vascular technology.
What Is a Vascular Technologist?
Vascular technologists are medical professionals who examine oxygen and blood flow using ultrasound and other medical equipment types(1).
Vascular technologists are also called vascular sonographers or vascular technicians.
Roles and Responsibilities
Vascular Technology is an allied health profession studied to practice monitoring and diagnostic procedures using soundwaves(2).
A big part of these medical professionals’ job description is to assist doctors in identifying abnormalities, like arterial blockages and vascular disorders, that may come up during medical procedures(3).
Registered vascular technologists (RVTs) work with the cardiovascular system using vascular sonography. They investigate and perform tests to know a patient’s oxygen levels, blood pressure, blood flow, and pulse.
It is also the vascular technician’s responsibility to assist and prepare patients, set appointments, and help treat prescription using ultrasound and x-ray.
A degree and a board-certified state license are needed to practice as a registered vascular technologist(4).
Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT) Salary
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an annual median wage of $57,720 for cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including RVTs, was reported in May 2019(5).
Beyond the salary, being a vascular technologist may yield high job satisfaction, as the job involves offering assistance to people.
Researchers noted that helping other people brings happiness and satisfaction(6).
The BLS estimates a 12% growth in vascular technologists and technicians’ employment in 10 years.
How to Become a Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT)
Certification examinations for RVTs can be administered by either the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) or the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI).
The ARDMS is a nationally recognized credentialing institution that offers three credentials: Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS), Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer (RDCS), and Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT).
Meanwhile, CCI is an international administrator certification examinations in cardiac catheterization, echocardiography, vascular ultrasound, and cardiography.
However, unlike the ARDMS, CCI offers credentials in EKG, stress, and Holter monitoring.
CCI focuses on cardiovascular technology credentials and offers credentials for registered vascular specialists (RVS).
The RVT certification offered by ARDMS and the RVS certification offered by CCI are accepted credentials in the vascular ultrasound field(7).
ARMDS Educational and Training Prerequisites for RVT Examinations
Specific prerequisites must be met to be eligible for the credential exam given by the ARDMS.
The three significant prerequisites that aspiring vascular technologists, vascular technicians, or vascular sonographers should keep in mind are education, experience, and documentation(8).
Educational prerequisites include the following:
- an associate degree in an allied health education program that is patient-care related
- a graduate or a student of an accredited agency program for diagnostic medical sonography, diagnostic cardiac sonography, or vascular technology
- a graduate of a bachelor’s degree in any course or major
- a graduate of a bachelor’s degree in sonography or vascular technology
According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), most people apply for an associate’s degree to be a vascular technologist(9). The certificate program requires two years of education, six months up to one year of the full-time clinical internship experience.
Some people decide to take a bachelor’s degree that requires four years of formal education to pursue a vascular technology career. No other clinical experience is needed.
However, graduates of a bachelor’s degree in any course or major need a 12-month full-time clinical ultrasound or vascular experience.
CCI Educational and Training Prerequisites for RVS Exam
Applicants taking the RVS exam must have a high school diploma or general education diploma and pass at least one of the five prerequisite options:
The first prerequisite option is to have two years of full-time equivalent work involving vascular ultrasound with 600 vascular ultrasound studies.
It is also recommended to have experience in carotid duplex ultrasound, transcranial doppler, peripheral arterial physiologic, peripheral arterial duplex, venous duplex ultrasound, and visceral vascular duplex ultrasound(10).
As a second prerequisite option, the applicant must be a graduate of an accredited vascular ultrasound program.
Applicants who have a non-programmatically accredited program are required to have a minimum of one year and 800 hours of specialty training.
Active ultrasound credential holders need a minimum of six months of full-time work or equivalent work in vascular ultrasound. The applicant must also have a minimum of 100 vascular ultrasound studies participation.
RVT Examination Requirements
After getting a degree, vascular technologists have the option of whether or not to get certified. However, most employers and healthcare insurance providers require this certification from applicants to be eligible for a job at hospitals, medical centers, and clinics(11).
The RVT credential is intended to certify medical professionals in the vascular ultrasound field. It also allows healthcare professionals to promote public safety and patient care(12).
Applicants who are students of a program accredited and recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or students taking a bachelor’s degree in sonography or vascular technology may take the ARDMS credential exam before they graduate.
According to ARDMS, to be an RVT, the Sonography Principles and Instrumentation (SPI) physics examination and the vascular technology specialty examination must be taken and passed within five years(13).
The SPI requirements include a transcript exhibiting an individual’s successful educational completion of the course, with a grade of C or better. A government-issued identification card (ID) with a signature is also required.
Note that the ARDMS does not accept transcripts with handwritten information and supplementary information.
Meanwhile, a Continuing Medical Education (CME) certificate presenting the completion of a general, media, or sonographic physics seminar, review course, and physics correspondence course may be accepted as transcript replacement.
A minimum of 12 ARDMS-accepted CME credits is required for CME certification. The certificate must have been earned in two years before the submission of the application form.
As an additional exam requirement, associate degree holders and bachelor’s degree holders of any major must submit a letter of intent noting the number of years of full-time clinical or vascular experience from any of the following: an ARMDS-registered sonographer or technologist, an educational program director, or a supervising physician.
It may take four to five years, depending on the chosen prerequisites, to be a registered vascular technologist (RVT).
A $250 examination fee applies to those who wish to take an RVT exam. This fee includes a non-refundable processing fee of $100 USD.
Schools Offering Vascular Technology
The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Professionals (CAAHEP) governs the accredited programs for a degree in vascular technology(14).
One of the CAAHEP-accredited ultrasound technician schools with the highest student populations is Cox College in Springfield, Missouri(15).
Cox College has a 59% acceptance rate and has an in-state tuition of $11,170. An 86% financial aide rate is available(16).
Mercy College of Health Sciences in Iowa is one of the accredited schools for ultrasound technicians. It offers certificate courses, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degree programs.
The Kettering College in Ohio has an acceptance rate of 99%, with an in-state tuition of $11,808. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) also recognizes this college.
Sonography Professional Organizations
The Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography (SDMS) is one of the leading professional organizations in the US sonography community(17). With over 28,000 members, it is the largest association of sonographers and sonography students.
Promoting, advancing, and educating the medical community about the science of diagnostic medical sonography is SDMS’s goal.
Other professional organizations for sonography include the American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) and the Society for Vascular Ultrasound (SVU)(18).
The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine (AIUM) aims to develop safe and effective medical use of ultrasound.
The Society for Vascular Ultrasound (SVU) claims to be the only professional organization that focuses on the enhancement of noninvasive vascular technology in the diagnosis of vascular disease.
The list of professional organizations for sonography is accessible on the ARDMS website.
Alternative and Related Careers
Vascular ultrasound technologists or vascular sonographers assist radiologists, cardiologists, and surgeons in diagnosing and treating various vascular diseases.
Vascular techs who are curious about cardiology may opt to seek a career as a cardiovascular technologist.
Those interested in diagnostic imaging technologies may choose to become either a diagnostic medical sonographer, cardiovascular technologist, or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technician.
RPVI vs. RVT
The significant difference between Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT) certification from Registered Physician in Vascular Interpretation (RPVI) certification is that RPVI is exclusive for doctors who want to validate their clinical expertise in the vascular medicine and surgery field.
Many vascular surgery programs require RPVI certification. This certification can be attained by passing the Physician’s Vascular Interpretation (PVI) examination.
Even though the RVT certification is not required to practice as a vascular technologist or technician, most employers now require this certification for jobs in medical institutions and clinics.
Vascular techs can take the RVT examination given by the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) or take the RVS examination given by the Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI).
- Learn - Medical Imaging and Radiology Faqs, (n.d.), How Can I Become a Registered Vascular Technician?, retrieved from https://learn.org/articles/How_Can_I_Become_a_Registered_Vascular_Technician.html
- Community College of Spokane, (n.d.), Associate in Applied Science - Vascular Technology, retrieved from https://scc.spokane.edu/What-To-Study/Degree-Description?id=284&ref=/What-to-Study/Healthcare/Vascular-Technology
- Learn - Medical Imaging and Radiology Faqs, Op. Cit.
- State University Careers, (n.d.), Vascular Technician Job Description, Career as a Vascular Technician, Salary, Employment, retrieved from https://careers.stateuniversity.com/pages/7944/Vascular-Technician.html
- US Bureau of Labor Statistics, (n.d.), Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologist and technicians, Including Vascular Technologist, retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/diagnostic-medical-sonographers.htm
- AIHT, (n.d.), 5 best reasons to become a cardiovascular technologist, retrieved from https://aiht.edu/blog/5-best-reasons-to-become-cardiovascular-technologist/
- The Burwin Institute of Diagnostic Medical Ultrasound, (n.d.), About ARDMS and CCI, retrieved from https://www.burwin.com/about-ardms-cci#:~:text=The%20ARDMS%20does%20not%20credential,%2C%20Stress%2C%20or%20Holter%20Monitoring.&text=The%20RDCS%20credential%20is%20awarded,the%20field%20of%20cardiac%20ultrasound.
- American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, (n.d.) ARDMS General Prerequisites, retrieved from https://www.ardms.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/ARDMS-General-Prerequisites.pdf
- Learn - Medical Imaging and Radiology Faqs, Op. Cit.
- Cardiovascular Credentialing International, (n.d.), RVS: Vascular Ultrasound Certification Examination, retrieved from https://cci-online.org/CCI/Certifications/RVS.aspx
- Learn Op. CIt.
- American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, (n.d.), Registered Vascular Technologist, retrieved from https://www.ardms.org/get-certified/rvt/
- American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, (n.d.), ARDMS General Prerequisites, retrieved from https://www.ardms.org/wp-content/uploads/pdf/ARDMS-General-Prerequisites.pdf
- State University Careers, Op. Cit.
- Ultrasound Technician Center,(2019), Accredited Ultrasound Technician Schools in 2019, retrieved from https://www.ultrasoundtechniciancenter.org/education/schools-directory.html
- American Registry of Diagnostic Sonography, (n.d.), Sonography Professional Organizations, retrieved from https://www.ardms.org/discover-ardms/career-center/sonography-professional-organizations/