Certified MRI Technologist Career and Certification

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging, and it's a type of non-invasive imaging procedure that helps doctors make diagnoses. Learn about becoming a technologist in this field. Get info on degree programs in related fields like radiology, licensure requirements and the certification exam. Schools offering Cardiovascular Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Obtaining certification as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologist usually requires you to already have completed a professional radiologic technology program. You'll also need to hold basic radiologic certification. Certification in this area of specialty is commonly provided through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

Career Outlook (2016-2026)* 14% job growth for MRI technologists (faster than average)
Certification Certification is available through the American Registry of Radiologic Technicians (ARRT)
Licensing Passing a national or state certification exam required for licensure in some states

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does a Career as an MRI Technologist Look Like?

As an MRI technologist, you will set up and calibrate the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment. MRI machines analyze body tissue and organs and are used by doctors to diagnose certain conditions and ailments in patients. You must be aware of and follow the rules and regulations created to keep patients and staff employees safe when exposed to radiology equipment. In addition, you must possess the people and communication skills to interact with physicians, as well as make patients feel comfortable.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job growth for MRI technologists is expected to grow 14% between 2016 and 2026, which is faster than average. In 2017, the median salary for MRI technologists was $69,930 per year.

What Prerequisites Do I Need to Enter a Program?

Most MRI technologist programs will require you to have a radiology degree from a program accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology and to be a certified radiology technician (RT). You should already have the basic skills needed to work the equipment and be aware of federal laws and regulations upon entering an MRI program.

What Can I Expect From a Program?

You can expect to spend the bulk of your studies in a lab. In addition to courses in anatomy and physiology, you will undergo lab training on how to properly use diagnostic equipment. Many programs also require medical terminology as a course or prerequisite. Your school should be affiliated with a hospital or medical facility to ensure you have access to the resources necessary to complete your practicum. To qualify for certification, you should choose a program that's recognized by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

Do I Need to Be Licensed or Certified to Practice?

Depending on the state where you intend to practice, you may need to pass a certification exam to become licensed. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that most MRI technologists first earn the ARRT's Registered Radiologic Technologist designation before obtaining specialty MRI certification. You must have an associate's degree to be eligible to take the certification exam. However, the degree does not have to be in radiology. The exam questions will cover:

  • Patient care
  • Imaging procedures
  • Image formation and data processing

You must pass your examination within three attempts to receive certification.

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