Vascular Technician Programs in Florida

From abdominal aortic aneurysm to deep vein thrombosis to stroke, vascular sonography technicians use specialized ultrasound equipment to identify blood flow issues related to cerebral, peripheral and abdominal circulation, which helps doctors diagnose and determine the right course of treatment.


Given that many diseases and disorders of the circulatory system are related to advanced age, the work of vascular technicians is particularly significant in Florida, where nearly 21% of the entire state population is over the age of 65. In fact, get a career in vascular technology off the ground here and you’ll have the opportunity to work with some of the biggest providers specializing in vascular health.

Take AdventHealth Orlando, for instance. This world-renowned healthcare goliath treats more vascular patients than any other hospital in the country and was just one of 39 hospitals in the nation to be awarded the 2019 TransCarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR) Center of Excellence designation for their work in improving and advancing carotid artery disease treatment.

How to Become a Vascular Technician in Florida

You’ll find a number of educational paths to a career in vascular sonography.

Just getting started in sonography…

If you’re new to the field, an associate’s degree in diagnostic medical sonography with a specialization/concentration in vascular imaging will prepare you for national certification and immediate employment in the field.

Some of the courses found in a vascular sonography program include:

  • Abdominal vascular disease
  • Vascular laboratory management
  • Special circulatory problems
  • Cerebrovascular ultrasound procedures
  • Abdominal vascular ultrasound procedures

All programs in vascular technology include clinical experiences in a variety of settings that total 1,000-1,250 hours. Just some of the leading vascular centers in Florida where you may complete some of your clinical rotations include:

  • Florida Medical Center, Vascular Sugery
  • Florida Heart & Vascular Care (Miami, Aventura, Plantation, Atlantis, Margate)
  • Orlando Heart Health
  • University of Florida Health, Vascular Surgery

Already working in medical sonography or another area of healthcare…

There’s also a nice selection of bachelor’s degrees in medical imaging, radiation sciences, and diagnostic medical sonography that offer a concentration in vascular imaging. Most of these programs are aimed at individuals already working in an allied health field and have strict admission requirements, including prior allied health training, clinical work experience, and college credits in areas like anatomy and physiology, math, the life sciences, and the physical sciences.

If you’re already working as a diagnostic medical sonographer, you’ll find plenty of certificate programs in vascular sonography that take just 6-12 months to complete. Most certificate programs only accept students who hold a national credential in diagnostic medical sonography and are currently working the field. Frequently offered entirely online, these programs allow working sonographers to complete the clinical requirements of the program right where they work.

How to Choose a Vascular Ultrasound Program

Whichever educational route best aligns with your individual needs, it’s always best to choose a program that’s been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). It’s the quickest and easiest route to meeting the qualifications for national certification exams, which have become a standard in the profession.

The CAAHEP accredits educational programs in the allied health professions, including diagnostic medical sonography programs with a vascular concentration/specialization.

When choosing a vascular sonography program, CAAHEP accreditation is important, but so is the school’s success rate. Some of the stats you’ll want to pay attention to include:

  • Attrition rate (how many students failed to graduate from the program)
  • Job placement rate (how many graduates were employed in vascular sonography following graduation)
  • National certification pass rate (how many graduates passed a national certification exam)

Earn National Certification in Vascular Sonography

National certification will make you a well-qualified candidate when it comes time to land a job. In fact, most employers now require at least one professional designation, and Medicare in nearly all states requires even non-invasive vascular studies to be performed by a technician who is certified in vascular technology.

There are three, main professional certifications in vascular sonography, and while all three provide a number of pathways that’ll qualify you for national certification, all recognize the completion of a CAAHEP-accredited program as meeting the requirements to sit for the appropriate certification examination.

American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS)

The Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT) designation through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography (ARDMS) tests your knowledge in the areas of anatomy and hemodynamics (blood flow) of cerebrovascular, venous, peripheral, and abdominal blood vessels.

To earn the RVT credential, you must take and pass the Sonography Principles & Instrumentation (SPI) exam and the Vascular Technology (VT) exam (you must complete both exams within five years, or you’ll have to retake both exams).

Before you can sit for any ARDMS exam, you must choose a prerequisite that qualifies you to take the exam. Currently, there are five ways to qualify to take both the VT and SPI exams:

  • Prerequisite 1:
    • Graduate from a two-year allied health education program in a patient-care field such as diagnostic medical sonographer, radiologic technologist, respiratory therapist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, and registered nurse; AND
    • Have at least 12 months of full-time clinical ultrasound/vascular experience
  • Prerequisite 2:
    • Graduate from a CAAHEP-accredited program that specifically conducts programmatic accreditation for diagnostic medical sonography/diagnostic cardiac sonography/vascular technology
  • Prerequisite 3A:
    • Graduate from a bachelor’s degree program in any field; AND
    • Have at least 12 months of full-time clinical ultrasound/vascular experience
  • Prerequisite 3B:
    • Graduate from a bachelor’s degree in sonography or vascular technology
  • Prerequisite 4 (has been removed)
  • Prerequisite 5: Must hold one of the following active credentials:
    • RCS, RCCS, or RVS through Cardiovascular Credentialing International
    • Sonography, Vascular Sonography, or Breast Sonography through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)

Once you are approved to take the VT or SPI exam, you’ll schedule with and take the exam through a Pearson VUE testing center near you. Learn more about preparing for and taking an ARRT exam here.

American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARTT)

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARTT) offers two credentials for vascular technologists: The Vascular Sonography credential and the Vascular Interventional Radiography credential.

The Vascular Sonography (VS) credential serves as the primary designation for radiologic technologists.

To take the VS exam and earn the VS credential, you must first qualify through either the primary eligibility pathway or the post-primary eligible pathway:

  • Primary Eligibility Pathway: Complete an associate’s degree or higher and an ARRT-approved educational program in vascular sonography (may or may not be part of your degree program)
  • Post-Primary Eligibility Pathway:

The ARRT also offers the Vascular Interventional Radiography (VIT) credential, which is designed specifically for vascular interventional radiographers who assist physicians with minimally invasive, image-guided vascular procedures, such as angioplasty, stenting, and more. You must meet the Post-Primary Eligibility pathway to achieve eligibility to take the VIT exam.

After qualifying to take the VS or VIT exam, you’ll schedule with and take the exam through a Pearson VUE testing center near you. Learn more about registering for, preparing for, and taking an ARRT exam here.

Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI)

Cardiovascular Credentialing International (CCI) offers the Registered Vascular Ultrasound (RVU) designation for technicians working in the area of vascular ultrasound. To qualify to take the RVU examination, you must meet ONE of the following eligibility requirements:

  • Have at least two years of full-time work experience in vascular ultrasound, which includes at least 600 vascular ultrasound studies at the time of application. It is recommended, but not required, for applicants to have experience in:
    • Carotid duplex ultrasound
    • Transcranial doppler
    • Peripheral arterial physiologic
    • Peripheral arterial duplex
    • Venous duplex ultrasound
    • Visceral vascular duplex ultrasound
  • Graduate from a diploma, associate, or bachelor’s program in a health science field, such as cardiovascular technology, ultrasound, radiologic technology, respiratory therapy, or nursing; AND have at least one year of full-time work experience in vascular ultrasound, which includes at least 600 vascular ultrasound studies. It is recommended, but not required, for applicants to have experience in:
    • Carotid duplex ultrasound
    • Transcranial doppler
    • Peripheral arterial physiologic
    • Peripheral arterial duplex
    • Venous duplex ultrasound
    • Visceral vascular duplex ultrasound
  • Graduate from a programmatically accredited program in vascular ultrasound
  • Graduate from a non-programmatically accredited program in vascular ultrasound that includes at least one year of specialty training and at least 800 clinical hours in vascular ultrasound
  • Active ultrasound credential holders with at least six months of full-time work experience in vascular ultrasound, which must include at least 100 vascular ultrasound studies

Once CCI has determined your eligibility to take the exam, you will schedule with and take the exam at a Pearson VUE testing center near you.

Pearson VUE Testing Centers

All three national credentialing organizations use Pearson VUE to administer their exams. In Florida, there are more than 15 Pearson VUE testing centers located throughout the state in cities such as:

  • Tampa
  • Petersburg
  • Port Charlotte
  • Orlando
  • Miami

When you schedule with Pearson VUE to take the appropriate examination, you’ll be able to choose a Pearson VUE testing center location that’s most convenient for you.

Career Outlook for Vascular Technicians in Florida

The vascular sonography field in Florida looks strong, both in terms of job growth and for the salaries that vascular technicians earn.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, diagnostic medical sonographers (which include vascular technicians) in Florida earned an average salary of $66,310 in May 2018, while the top earners (top 10%) earned more than $85,740 during this time.

The BLS projects the number of medical sonographers to increase by 6% between 2019 and 2021, resulting in about 390 annual openings due to a mixture of retirements, natural job turnover, and new job growth.

Florida ranks third in the nation among states with the highest employment level of medical sonographers, at 5,380. Florida is behind only California and New York for its number of medical sonographers, which mirrors the state’s aging population that requires more healthcare services.

The Miami metro area (includes Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach) also ranks among the top metro areas in the U.S. for its number of medical sonographers—1,670, as of May 2019.

Opportunities for Florida’s Vascular Technicians

Practicing vascular technicians in Florida with their eye on advancing in the profession or moving into leadership or management positions often choose to complete a bachelor’s degree in vascular sonography. Fortunately, a number of schools offer bachelor’s degrees just for pros like you. Known as degree completion programs, these bachelor’s degrees in vascular sonography are designed specifically for vascular technicians who are already nationally certified and currently employed in the field. These programs can often be completed online, with the didactic courses and clinical requirements completed at your place of employment.

Joining a professional association is a great way to network with others in the profession, stay current on the latest changes to the sonography field, and locate great continuing education courses and events to keep your national certification current:

 

Salary and employment data compiled by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics in May of 2019. Figures represent accumulated data for all employment sectors in which diagnostic medical sonographers work. BLS salary data represents average and median earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. 

All salary and employment data accessed October 2020.