Commonly, schools offer an advanced certificate in MRI for those who have already completed an associate's degree program in radiography or radiologic science. The 2-year associate's program includes general education coursework plus specific training in the use of the equipment. Anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology are also studied.
Entrance into this program requires students to spend a certain number of hours observing procedures, and completion of the program requires clinical experiences. Prerequisites include 30 hours of observation in MRI or related health field. State licensing may be required of radiologic technologists. Experienced individuals can pursue professional certifications and participate in mandatory continuing education programs.
Associate's Degree in Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Associate degree programs in MRI often have specialized courses during the second year. Classes may include:
- MRI scanning
- Health profession skills
- Pharmacology for health professionals
- Cross section anatomy
- MRI physics
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Individuals who specialize in magnetic resonance imaging are considered radiologic technologists and technicians; technologists tend to perform more complex imaging procedures. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), predicts employment of radiologic technologists and technicians to grow faster than average for all occupations, with a 9% increase expected from 2014-2024. The median annual salary for radiologic technologists was $56,670 as of May 2015, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov).
Continuing Education, Certification, and Licensing
Many schools offer a bachelor's degree program in radiation sciences or a related area that likely includes training in magnetic resonance imaging. Some credits from an associate's degree program may be transferred to a bachelor's degree.
Most states require radiologic technologists to be licensed, but requirements vary by state. Voluntary credentialing programs offered by professional associations certify skills and education. Employers tend to prefer applicants who are certified. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists offers certification, as does the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists. Earning either certification generally requires completing an approved education program, abiding by the group's code of ethics and passing a national exam. The latter organization also requires a certain amount of work experience. Both organizations require certified individuals to pursue continuing education, and both organizations provide a list of approved schools.
An associate's degree in MRI provides students with an introduction to the field of MRI and prepares them to work as technicians after gaining certification from a professional organization. Some graduates also opt to pursue an additional degree to further increase their employability.