What Are the Education Requirements to Be an MRI Technician?
As an MRI technician, you will use Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technology to take images of the hard and soft tissues inside the bodies of medical patients. Continue reading to learn about the education requirements you'll need to get started in this career.
Education Requirements for MRI Technicians
Prospective MRI technicians can earn a graduate certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree in MRI or radiologic technology, but associate's degree programs are the most common education path for this career. Programs employ both classroom learning and clinical instruction. The classes may cover anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, patient care, radiological procedures and radiologic equipment. You'll be required to participate in clinical practicums throughout your program as well. You will want to ensure that your chosen program is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology because accreditation is required for licensure in most states.
You may start your career as a licensed or certified radiologic technologist taking x-ray and computed tomography (CT) images. After becoming familiar with these modalities, you may start to work with MRI machines. Within a few years, you could prove your competency by passing a series of exams and start working as an MRI technician.
Important Facts About MRI Technicians
|Continuing Education||Required every two years to maintain certification|
|Common Courses||Radiobiology, protection, computer imaging, interventional procedures|
|Specializations||Pediatric, neurological, cardiac|
|Online Availability||Radiologic technologist degree online; MRI technologist post-graduate programs online for certified radiologic technologists; clinical rotations onsite|
Some states require licensure or certification for MRI technicians. Requirements vary by state and the type of training and experience you have. If you started your career as a radiologic technologist, you'll need to pass several documented imaging exams before you can sit for your licensure or certification exam. Otherwise, you'll need to have graduated from an approved formal education program. The exam that you'll likely need to take is administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (AART), which is accepted by most states for licensure. Even if licensure is not required in your state, passing the AART exam will lead to optional certification which will demonstrate your professional knowledge to potential employers.
You need to possess strong stamina to be an MRI technician; not only will you be on your feet for most of the day, you will also need to help lift patients who are disabled. As an MRI technician, you will explain the procedure to patients, take patients' medical histories, maintain imaging equipment and take diagnostic images using MRI machines. You'll work closely with doctors to determine which regions of the body need to be imaged and evaluate whether the images you take are good enough to make a diagnosis. You'll also inject patients with contrast dyes to prepare them for the procedure.
Possible places of employment include doctor's offices, hospitals, outpatient care centers and diagnostic laboratories. You may sometimes need to work weekends and evenings since diagnostic imaging is sometimes necessary in emergency situations.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of MRI technicians was expected to grow 14% from 2016-2026, which is faster than the national average among all occupations. This is partially due to an aging population, who will likely need diagnostic imaging services in the coming years. Furthermore, federal health legislation will give more people access to health insurance and medical services. The BLS reported a mean annual wage of $72,230 for MRI techs in May 2018.