How to Become an MRI Technician in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become an MRI technician. Learn about job duties, education requirements, certification and employment outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Cardiovascular Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does An MRI Technician Do?

MRI technicians operate magnetic resonance imagine (MRI) equipment. They use this medical equipment to capture internal images of a patient. This includes things like X-rays. As part of their work they need to understand how MRI equipment functions and maintain the equipment. They may also need to help position patients so that they can get the necessary images for diagnosis. They may also need to take a medical history from patients before conducting tests. MRI technicians use computerized equipment to take the images and after they have produced the images MRI technicians will review them with physicians and decide if further images are needed.

Degree Required Associate's degree
Education Field of Study Radiologic sciences, medical imaging, MRI technology
Key Responsibilities Guide patient through medical history interview & MRI procedure; process images & consult with physician on results
Licensure/Certification License or certification required in some states; licensing requires graduation from accredited program & passage of certification exam
Job Growth (2014-2024) 10%*
Average Salary (2015) $68,340*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Is an MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is used by physicians to diagnose abnormalities in the soft tissues in the body. An MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce images of internal organs and soft tissues in patients' bodies. The use of an MRI is only one non-invasive diagnostic imaging test used by physicians.

Step 1: Research MRI Technician Career Duties

As an MRI technician, you'll prepare, operate and maintain computerized MRI equipment. With each patient, you'll take down medical history, explain the procedure and position him or her to better capture images from various angles. You'll likely make initial diagnoses on the images and consult with physicians about further imaging. You may seek certification in additional medical imaging machines.

Step 2: Prepare for College

To pursue postsecondary training in magnetic resonance imaging, you must have a high school diploma or the equivalent. You may want to choose classes in anatomy, biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. Additional electives in health and computer science may benefit you in the medical field. Certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) may also be helpful before beginning classes. CPR classes are available near you through the American Heart Association (www.americanheart.org).

Step 3: Earn an Associate Degree

An associate degree in radiologic sciences, medical imaging or MRI technology is a good place to begin your studies. Courses in this type of program teach you about anatomy, biology, medical terminology, patient care and radiography. You'll also spend time in laboratories and clinics, meeting much needed hands-on experience with radiographic procedures. While these programs don't focus solely on MRIs, this allows you to consider certification in additional imaging examinations.

Step 4: Seek Certification

You can seek certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (www.arrt.org). To sit for the exam, you'll need to have completed a college program that covers MRI technology and provides experience using an MRI machine. You must renew your ARRT registration through re-certification and continued training.

Step 5: Pursue a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences

Earning a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Sciences can lead to increased opportunities for promotion, especially if you seek a supervisory position. A bachelor's degree also may qualify you for MRI teaching positions or for administrative positions within a radiologic sciences department.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians are required to have an associate's degree, and they use specialized equipment to conduct tests or create images of a patient. Nuclear medicine technicians also use specialized equipment for producing images of a patient, and are also required to have an associate's degree. The work that diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technicians and technologists and nuclear medicine technicians do is similar to the work of an MRI technician because they all use specialized equipment to produce images of a patient that can be used in the diagnosis and treatment of those patients. Radiation therapists do not create images, but administer radiation treatments to patients suffering from diseases such as cancer. They also need an associate's degree to enter their field.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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