innerbody

Guide to Becoming an MRI Technician or Radiographer

What Does an MRI Technician Do?

MRI technician with images

MRI technicians use cutting-edge technology to create high-definition, three-dimensional pictures of organs and tissues inside the body. These images are among the most powerful diagnostic tools available and are particularly useful for studying the brain, heart and muscles as well as certain kinds of cancers. A skillful MRI tech produces high-resolution images that allow physicians to diagnose with pinpoint accuracy.

MRI scanners create powerful magnetic fields that line up certain atomic nuclei within the body. When stimulated by radio waves, these nuclei produce rotating magnetic fields that can be converted into images. Technicians have a nuanced understanding of the physics behind this process that allows them to create pictures with excellent contrast and clarity. They also rely on their expertise in human anatomy to position the patient and target the body structures to be studied.

Unlike X-ray radiography, MRI does not produce ionizing radiation nor damage vulnerable DNA and cells. However, since an MRI scanner is essentially a giant high-powered magnet, technicians must adhere to strict safety procedures when working with their scanner and perform routine maintenance to keep it in peak condition.

In addition to providing scientific and technical expertise, these professionals work closely with patients. While open MRI machines are becoming more common, most models still require patients to lie in a narrow tube for up to 40 minutes, which leads to anxiety, claustrophobia or even panic for some patients. The support of a calm and caring technician makes all the difference in the patient’s experience. Techs also ensure that patients follow safety procedures and may administer contrast agents by mouth or injection to enhance the quality of the images.

Once a study is complete, the technician consults with a radiologist to examine the images, answer questions and plan additional studies as needed. The radiologist makes the diagnosis and communicates it to the patient’s physician. As vital players on the health care team, MRI techs take great pride in producing the high-quality images physicians need to diagnose and treat with confidence and accuracy.

Salary and Job Outlook

State
Average Wage
Florida
$64710
California
$86610
Texas
$68360
Michigan
$60040
New York
$74670

Hover over any state to explore local income and job growth data.

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ALABAMA

Median Salary: 
$59,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $46,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $76,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Birmingham$51,470$61,350$76,930
Huntsville$41,500$57,420$75,850

ALASKA

Median Salary: 
$77,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $96,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Anchorage$53,310$74,010$94,750

ARIZONA

Median Salary: 
$73,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $38,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $96,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Phoenix$35,730$73,320$96,420
Tuscon$43,040$69,970$91,960

ARKANSAS

Median Salary: 
$50,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $33,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $72,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Little Rock$40,230$50,800$74,020
Fort Smith$26,880$44,730$59,980

CALIFORNIA

Median Salary: 
$87,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $125,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Los Angeles$50,740$79,740$120,480
San Francisco Bay$54,710$108,410$140,390
San Diego$61,110$90,870$123,310
Sacramento$71,090$107,500$131,740

COLORADO

Median Salary: 
$76,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $62,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $95,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 36%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Denver$65,670$78,590$95,650
Colorado Springs$56,670$73,440$97,190

CONNECTICUT

Median Salary: 
$75,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $97,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 2%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Hartford$65,470$79,420$98,280
Bridgeport$65,140$82,540$98,830
New Haven$54,080$71,380$96,350

DELAWARE

Median Salary: 
$71,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $89,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 9%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wilmington$60,100$72,340$91,920

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Median Salary: 
$86,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $65,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $107,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 2%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Washington DC$53,620$77,420$102,910

FLORIDA

Median Salary: 
$65,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $50,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $80,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 20%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 120

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Miami$51,560$67,450$85,350
Orlando$48,130$65,030$77,740
Tampa$52,310$68,100$85,740
Jacksonville$48,600$63,930$79,600

GEORGIA

Median Salary: 
$62,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $36,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $79,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 16%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Atlanta$35,680$64,100$79,750
Augusta$43,540$57,270$74,920

HAWAII

Median Salary: 
$87,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $63,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $99,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Honolulu$56,620$88,690$100,050

IDAHO

Median Salary: 
$65,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $48,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $86,100

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boise$43,320$57,220$78,800

ILLINOIS

Median Salary: 
$69,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $45,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $95,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 0%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Chicago$52,680$73,730$97,800
Rockford$39,480$69,210$95,400

INDIANA

Median Salary: 
$63,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $43,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $78,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Indianapolis$50,870$66,160$79,600
Fort Wayne$42,560$58,430$76,910

IOWA

Median Salary: 
$58,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $45,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $77,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Des Moines$51,970$60,330$80,290

KANSAS

Median Salary: 
$59,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $48,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $75,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Wichita$46,120$59,550$75,560
Kansas City$51,640$62,320$76,850

KENTUCKY

Median Salary: 
$61,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $48,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $77,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 24%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Louisville$38,900$60,250$77,050
Lexington$46,830$63,480$79,150

LOUISIANA

Median Salary: 
$55,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $39,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $73,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New Orleans$42,470$56,150$73,390
Baton Rouge$21,420$55,090$76,310
Lafayette$43,150$54,740$62,990

MAINE

Median Salary: 
$73,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $56,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $93,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 2%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$54,480$72,860$92,220

MARYLAND

Median Salary: 
$75,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $57,200
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $97,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Baltimore$62,870$74,140$96,370
Frederick$53,500$77,080$98,670

MASSACHUSETTS

Median Salary: 
$84,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $58,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $107,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Boston$53,970$86,480$110,490
Worcester$67,260$87,930$113,500
Springfield$55,950$76,980$95,590

MICHIGAN

Median Salary: 
$60,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $33,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $77,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Detroit$31,110$61,510$78,290
Grand Rapids$43,660$62,000$78,650

MINNESOTA

Median Salary: 
$70,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $51,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $89,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Minneapolis - St. Paul$57,690$72,640$90,580

MISSISSIPPI

Median Salary: 
$57,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $40,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $75,500

2014-2024 Job Growth: 6%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Jackson$40,880$56,090$75,240
Gulfport$29,170$57,710$76,310

MISSOURI

Median Salary: 
$58,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $41,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $76,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
St. Louis$41,460$57,520$76,470
Kansas City$51,640$62,320$76,850

MONTANA

Median Salary: 
$60,600
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $42,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $79,400

Job Growth Data Not Available

NEBRASKA

Median Salary: 
$62,000
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $49,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $80,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 10%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Omaha$46,930$61,650$81,010

NEVADA

Median Salary: 
$84,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $63,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $103,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Las Vegas$64,350$85,080$106,000

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Median Salary: 
$70,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $90,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 0%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

NEW JERSEY

Median Salary: 
$80,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $64,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $98,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Newark$65,510$84,650$100,310
Trenton$65,180$76,980$95,710

NEW MEXICO

Median Salary: 
$68,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $51,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $89,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 14%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Albuquerque$56,650$71,440$92,840

NEW YORK

Median Salary: 
$74,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $49,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $96,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
New York City$62,320$81,120$98,100
Buffalo$44,210$57,890$75,380
Rochester$51,860$63,600$77,440
Albany$42,630$61,510$78,150

NORTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$66,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $51,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $80,400

2014-2024 Job Growth: 18%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charlotte$54,180$68,100$78,840
Raleigh$53,390$67,830$79,380
Greensboro$53,940$69,600$85,360
Winston - Salem$48,710$60,520$76,210

NORTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$57,500
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $41,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $78,200

2014-2024 Job Growth: 15%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Fargo$40,090$51,010$74,770

OHIO

Median Salary: 
$61,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $50,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $76,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 13%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 50

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Cleveland$52,510$62,920$77,580
Columbus$50,430$62,660$77,260
Cincinnati$51,150$67,240$79,190
Dayton$51,270$57,990$71,710

OKLAHOMA

Median Salary: 
$58,800
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $31,400
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $77,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 5%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Oklahoma City$27,130$59,700$77,700
Tulsa$43,390$58,530$79,370

OREGON

Median Salary: 
$82,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $54,100
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $98,700

2014-2024 Job Growth: 12%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Portland$57,970$85,850$99,950

PENNSYLVANIA

Median Salary: 
$62,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $46,800
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $86,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 30

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Philadelphia$53,730$71,120$92,670
Pittsburgh$44,130$58,600$81,080
Harrisburg$43,700$58,020$77,420
Allentown$45,220$67,010$91,640

RHODE ISLAND

Median Salary: 
$76,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $62,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $95,100

Job Growth Data Not Available

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Providence$61,830$77,080$95,690

SOUTH CAROLINA

Median Salary: 
$59,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $36,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $79,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 11%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Charleston$32,100$58,490$76,150

SOUTH DAKOTA

Median Salary: 
$56,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $43,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $64,800

2014-2024 Job Growth: 4%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

TENNESSEE

Median Salary: 
$57,400
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $39,700
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $75,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 28%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Nashville$40,850$60,930$77,920
Memphis$45,350$60,510$77,070
Knoxville$35,840$53,340$69,200
Chattanooga$42,020$60,460$77,770

TEXAS

Median Salary: 
$69,200
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $52,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $86,900

2014-2024 Job Growth: 25%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 90

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Dallas - Ft. Worth$56,760$73,670$94,270
Houston$53,460$67,730$79,430
San Antonio$41,210$68,370$80,160
Austin$53,030$67,160$86,890

UTAH

Median Salary: 
$62,300
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $44,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $80,000

2014-2024 Job Growth: 23%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Salt Lake City$43,150$60,890$80,890
Ogden$41,730$57,970$76,870

VERMONT

Median Salary: 
$72,100
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $53,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $94,300

Job Growth Data Not Available

VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$68,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $47,000
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $95,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 8%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 20

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Virginia Beach$56,640$70,940$86,290
Richmond$42,160$63,670$79,040

WASHINGTON

Median Salary: 
$79,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $38,300
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $102,300

2014-2024 Job Growth: 17%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 40

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Seattle$47,270$83,950$104,540
Spokane$33,250$67,600$99,070

WEST VIRGINIA

Median Salary: 
$60,700
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $45,600
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $78,600

2014-2024 Job Growth: 7%
Projected Annual Job Openings: Fewer than 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Huntington$43,120$58,040$88,560
Charleston$49,160$59,550$76,590

WISCONSIN

Median Salary: 
$68,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $53,500
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $81,100

2014-2024 Job Growth: 1%
Projected Annual Job Openings: 10

SALARY BY METRO AREA:

CityEntry LevelMedianLots of Experience
Milwaukee$55,970$70,890$81,900

WYOMING

Median Salary: 
$63,900
Bottom 10% (Entry Level): $44,900
Top 10% (Lots of Experience): $93,900

Job Growth Data Not Available

According to the US Department of Labor, MRI techs earn a median annual wage of $67,720. The middle 80% of wage earners earn between $46,690 and $94,550. Salaries tend to be highest in large metropolitan areas. Techs working in private doctors’ offices and diagnostic centers earn a slightly higher median income than those who work in hospitals.

Most techs work full time, and their schedules may include overnight, weekend and holiday shifts. Hospitals and diagnostic centers are expected to remain the largest employers of MRI techs. However, as technology advances and smaller, more portable scanners become commercially available, a growing number of physicians’ offices also employ these professionals.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment of MRI technologists to grow by 9% between 2014 and 2024 - faster than average growth - due largely to the aging population’s increased need for health care services. Federal laws have also increased the number of insured people, which should lead to increased demand for the services of MRI techs.

Compare Salaries by City

New York City NY Median Pay

$81120 Per Year

$39.00 Per Hour

Houston TX Median Pay

$67730 Per Year

$32.56 Per Hour

Steps to Become an MRI Technician

1

Enroll in an accredited education program.

In some states and certain situations, MRI technicians are able to train on the job. These kinds of positions are most common in healthcare workforce shortage areas. But in most cases, you will have to attend an accredited program in order to become an MRI tech. Requirements vary from state to state. Most typically, students choose an associate degree, though some enroll in accredited certificate programs. Still others choose a bachelor’s degree route to enhance their appeal to employers. Make sure your chosen path is accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology or the Commission on Accreditation of the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists.

Show Me Schools »

If you already have an unrelated undergraduate degree, there are also accredited certificate programs that allow you to forego an additional degree as long as you satisfy certain prerequisites.

2

Complete additional training beyond your program.

MRI programs include extensive hands-on training in a variety of clinical settings. Newly hired technicians complete a period of on-the-job training during which they shadow an experienced mentor.

3

Get certified.

Most states mandate do not mandate licensure of MRI techs, but many require certification. Even if you live in a state that doesn’t require it, employers in that state likely will try to hire certified job applicants. Certification requirements vary, but usually include graduation from an accredited program and passage of a knowledge exam. MRI technicians are eligible for certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and the American Registry of MRI Technologists.

4

Entertain opportunities to specialize or advance in your career.

Skilled MRI techs have opportunities to specialize in an area of interest such as pediatrics, cardiac, neurological or intraoperative imaging. Some go back to school to train as nurses or nuclear medicine technologists. Supervisory or managerial roles are also options for experienced MRI professionals.

Explore Degree Paths

ASSOCIATE DEGREE

2 years

There are a few scenarios in which earning an associate degree is the baseline requirement for being an MRI tech:

  • Your state requires ARRT certification in order to practice. (Even in states where this is not a requirement, certification can still make a big difference when it comes to getting hired.)
  • Your state requires an associate degree or higher in order to practice

Technically you can major in any subject, so long as your school is accredited by an ARRT-recognized agency. But if you hold a degree in a field other than MRI technology, see the certificate program section for more information about additional requirements.

Probably the fastest ways to become a certified MRI technician is to obtain an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree from an ARRT-approved MRI technology program. These can be found at 2-year colleges and career schools across the country. Some programs have articulation agreements with universities that make it easier for graduates to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Show Me Schools »

Associate level coursework in MRI technology covers:

Anatomy and physiology

Study the life functions of the human body, including metabolism, respiration, and circulation.

Sectional anatomy

Practice identifying human anatomy as it appears in two-dimensional images.

MRI physics

Learn how magnetic resonance produces pictures and how parameter changes affect the process.

MRI procedures

Apply protocols to create quality images for different patient types and health conditions.

ARRT-approved programs also include a directed practice component in which students care for real-life patients under supervision.

BACHELOR'S DEGREE

4 years for a first degree

Earning a Bachelor of Science in radiologic technology (BS, BSRT, BSRS) is a good idea if you’re interested in leadership, management, teaching, or research.

Some bachelor’s programs offer a dual concentration option, which allows you to study more than one imaging modality. Having multiple certifications can make it a lot easier to find a job after graduation. To avoid hassles when you take your certification exam, verify that the program you choose is approved by ARRT.

Bachelor’s-level students usually spend 2–3 years taking general education classes and radiologic technology prerequisites. Some programs allow students to complete this phase of the curriculum at a 2-year or liberal arts college.

The final 1–2 years of the bachelor’s program cover radiologic sciences, MRI technology, and fieldwork. This part of the curriculum strongly resembles an associate degree program. Courses at this level may include:

Pathophysiology

Study how the disease process affects tissues, organs, and body systems.

Advance clinical practice

Practice working with medically complex patients and those with problem behaviors.

Research

Learn the elements of a well-designed research study and practice evaluating papers in the imaging field.

Administration

Develop the skills you need to run a safe and effective radiology department.

Some schools also offer bachelor’s degree completion programs for techs who already hold an associate degree.

CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

6 months to 2 years

MRI technician certificate programs are generally best for working radiologic technologists who want to develop skills in a new modality. These students have already completed the prerequisite classes and met ARRT’s associate degree requirement.

Some certificate programs accept students with no previous education or experience in the medical field, such as those with unrelated degrees. If you go this route, you will probably need to take prerequisites before applying to the MRI technology certificate program. Remember, you must hold an associate degree in order to qualify for ARRT certification.

The certificate-level curriculum emphasizes MRI science and clinical experience. Expect to take:

Intro to MRI

Learn the skills you need to create quality images, understand instrumentation, and ensure safety.

Advanced MRI

Explore techniques such as contrasting, cardiac imaging, and functional imaging.

MRI externship

Gain the clinical experience you need to qualify for ARRT certification.

Advanced cross-sectional anatomy

Practice identifying anatomy and pathology using a variety of imaging modalities.

Keys to Success as an MRI Tech

Necessary Skills and Qualities

Physical fitness

MRI tech jobs involve substantial physical activity and require good health and stamina. These professionals may need to lift or assist patients who are moving from gurneys and wheelchairs onto the scanner table or position body parts or pieces of equipment. Techs spend many hours on their feet each shift.

Careful attention to detail

MRI technicians need to follow physician instructions meticulously in order to obtain clear, useful images.

Empathy and communication skills

These help MRI techs gain the cooperation of patients who are in pain or experiencing claustrophobia.

Additional Credentials

Some states and many employers require MRI technicians to be certified before practicing.

The most recognized credential for MRI technicians is ARRT’s RT(R) (MR). There are two pathways to certification:

  • Hold an associate degree, complete an ARRT-approved training program in MRI technology, and pass ethics and knowledge exams
  • Meet the requirements for postprimary certification, which include clinical experience in a variety of procedures and documented continuing education

ARRT-certified MRI technicians can pursue postprimary certification in sonography. This requires a combination of experience, continuing education, and passing an exam.

Some states and localities also recognize the American Registry of MRI Technologists (ARMRIT) as a certifying agency. To become credentialed, candidates must graduate from an ARMRIT-approved training program OR meet experience requirements, and then pass an exam.

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