Vascular Technician Programs in Hawaii

Our nation’s population is aging. And as the number of seniors continues to increase, age-related diseases naturally follow.

This is particularly true in Hawaii, which tops the list of retirement destinations for anybody from the mainland who can afford it. Between 2010 and 2018, the state’s senior population (65 years and older) grew by nearly 34%, compared to an overall population growth rate of slightly more than 4% over the same period. As of 2018, people 65 and older accounted for almost 19% of the entire population statewide, ranking it seventh in the nation.

As a result, the Aloha State’s healthcare system continues to contend with more and more age related diseases, including vascular diseases and conditions like stroke, coronary artery disease, and blood clots. In fact, according to the State of Hawaii, Department of Health, cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in Hawaii, and cardiovascular disease and strokes are responsible for nearly 4,000 deaths every year.

These sort of trends in vascular health have increased the demand for vascular technologists who use specialized ultrasound equipment to take images of the circulatory system, which is then used by physicians to diagnose and treat any number of vascular conditions and diseases. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of diagnostic medical sonographers in Hawaii, including vascular techs, is projected to increase by 6% between 2019 and 2021 alone – noticeably faster than the national average growth rate of 4% for all occupations during this time.

How to Become a Vascular Technician in Hawaii

Vascular sonography programs are available as associate and bachelor’s degrees and post-degree certificates. Programs in this field earn accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). Choosing a CAAHEP-accredited program ensures the program meets the requirements to sit for the national certification exams that have become standard in the profession.

If you’re just getting started in the field of sonography…

If you’re new to the field of sonography, you’ll find a large selection of associate degrees in medical sonography with a specialization/concentration in vascular imaging available through junior colleges, technical schools, and four-year colleges and universities. These programs include the classroom learning and clinical experiences that will qualify you to take a national certification examination upon graduation, but often offer some curriculum online to maximize convenience and accessibility for working students.

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

  • Abdominal vascular disease
  • Non-invasive vascular testing
  • Vascular laboratory management
  • Special circulatory problems
  • Cerebrovascular ultrasound procedures
  • Abdominal vascular ultrasound procedures

You’ll also complete a series of clinical rotations that total about 1,000-1,250 hours. Some of the vascular centers in Hawaii where you may satisfy your clinical requirements include:

  • Hawaii Heart & Vascular Center, Honolulu
  • Hawaii Pacific Health, Straub Medical Center, Vascular Health
  • The Queens Medical Center

If you’re working in diagnostic medical sonography or another allied health field…

If you already have an associate’s degree in a health-related field and you want to turn your attention to vascular sonography, a bachelor’s degree in medical imaging, radiation sciences, or diagnostic medical sonography with a concentration in vascular imaging may be a good choice for you. Most of these programs have strict admission requirements, including prior allied health training, clinical work experience, and college credits in areas like anatomy and physiology, medical ethics, medical terminology, the life sciences, and the physical sciences. Because you’ll transfer credits from your previous allied health program, you can complete a bachelor’s degree in as little as 24 months.

And if you already have a degree in diagnostic medical sonography, a certificate program offers a direct path to the vascular technology specialization in just 6-12 months. Most of these programs only accept currently employed sonographers with national certification in diagnostic medical sonography, and most are also offered either partially or entirely online and allow you to complete the clinical requirements at your place of employment.

Earn National Certification in Vascular Sonography

Expect to earn national certification in vascular sonography. With an almost complete lack of state licensing in the field, most employers have turned to national certification to ensure they build their ranks with a highly qualified staff of vascular techs. And Medicare in nearly all states now requires non-invasive vascular diagnostics 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 exam.

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 role 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)

Learn more about preparing for and taking an ARRT exam here.

American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARTT)

The American Registry of Radiologic Technicians (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.

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

Pearson VUE Testing Centers

All three national credentialing organizations use Pearson VUE to administer their exams. In Hawaii, there is a Pearson VUE testing center located in Honolulu.

Salaries for Vascular Technicians in Hawaii

If you’re looking for a top salary as a vascular technician, Hawaii is where you want to be. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Hawaii’s diagnostic medical sonographers, which includes vascular technicians, took home an average salary of $102,140 as of May 2019 – the highest average salary in the nation for professionals in the field.

Opportunities for Hawaii’s Vascular Technicians

Practicing vascular technicians in Hawaii with an interest in advancing their career to areas like management, human resources, and leadership positions often choose to earn a bachelor’s degree. A number of schools have begun offering bachelor’s completion programs in vascular sonography, which are designed specifically for nationally certified vascular techs currently employed in the field. These programs can often be completed online, with the lab courses and clinical requirements completed at your place of employment.

Joining a professional association is a great way to find networking events and continuing education opportunities  you can use 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.