Vascular technology career presents opportunity

Professor and student at ultrasound machine

Wanted: Caring, compassionate and curious problem-solvers looking for a meaningful, professional career in health care.

Does this sound like you? Then consider a career in vascular sonography. Vascular sonographers are skilled professionals who use ultrasound equipment to evaluate a patient’s veins and arteries for any abnormalities. Ultrasound is a noninvasive imaging technique using high-frequency sound waves to produce pictures of the inside of the body. Sonographers work with physicians to help diagnose disorders affecting a person’s blood flow, which could include checking for blockages in arteries and veins or monitoring blood pressure and oxygen saturation. They may see patients in a clinic or a hospital, or work in the operating room alongside a surgeon.

“Vascular sonography is a field for someone who is compassionate, has strong communication skills, is curious about science, and really likes people,” said Heather Ruttkofsky, interim dean of nursing and allied health. Vascular sonographers need to be critical thinkers who always keep in mind the clinical question that brings each person to see them. The necessary skills are taught in the program. Students will learn how to interact with patients and physicians and apply critical thinking to their work.

Vascular sonography is a specialty all its own, and students can start the program as soon as they complete the prerequisites. Ruttkofsky said some believe general sonography is a good place to start, but students can start in any of the three areas – vascular, general or cardiac – because all are unique. “Vascular is so in-depth, it can’t be learned on the job in a short time,” Ruttkofsky said. “Today, legislation is making it so clinics have to have a registered vascular technologist on staff in order to get reimbursed by insurance companies.”

About the Program 

Vascular sonography is a second-admit program, which means students must apply after completing the prerequisite courses. Admission to the program is competitive and based on a points system. Applications are due by May 31, and students begin their sonography courses in the fall semester. From start to finish, students may complete their program in two years.

Career projections anticipate an up to 25 percent increase in the need for vascular sonographers in the coming years. Students who pass their certification exams may use the letters RVT – registered vascular technologist – after their name. Pay scales for vascular sonographers range from $42,000-$68,000 per year. JC offers an online program that is available nationally.

Ruttkofsky advises interested students job shadow a vascular sonographer and all sonography specialties and treat it as an interview about the career. Talk with students in the program to see if the career is a good fit.