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MRI Technician Degree Program Options

Prospective MRI technicians can complete an associate's degree in Magnetic Resonance Imaging. Radiological science bachelor's degrees, with a concentration in MRI, are also available for registered radiology technologists. Both lead to MRI licensure and professional certification.

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Essential Information

Associate of Applied Science in Magnetic Resonance Imaging programs give students a foundational knowledge of healthcare practices and principles as well as specific training in MRI practices. Students learn to position patients, operate equipment and observe safety regulations. Supervised hands-on experience in a clinical setting is an important part of this two-year program.

Registered radiology technologists who hold diplomas or associate's degrees can train in MRI through a four-year Bachelor of Science in Advanced Radiological Sciences program. The program combines classroom studies with clinical work in MRI. Those seeking a bachelor's degree must first become ARRT certified. Common admissions requirements for both programs include high school diploma or its equivalent.


Associate of Applied Science in Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Students enrolled in an associate's degree program in magnetic resonance imaging are often required to complete a clinical practicum or clinical rotation in a healthcare environment where they can observe actual patient-staff interactions and MRI procedures taking place. Any student who completes an MRI associate's degree program approved by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) is eligible for certification or licensure.

Completing an associate's degree in MRI is the primary pathway (ARRT terminology) to a career in MRI technology. There is another pathway, which involves earning certification in a supporting category - radiography - first, then earning a certificate in MRI.

Individuals must have strong grades in mathematics, physics and natural science to consider applying to an associate's degree program in magnetic resonance imaging. They should also be comfortable working in a hospital or other healthcare facility and taking direction from medical personnel. Some schools require incoming students to be certified in CPR before beginning core courses.

The courses in an associate's degree program in MRI technology cover human anatomy and general health and provide hands-on experience with MRI equipment and sectional imaging. Sample courses are listed below:

  • Patient preparation
  • Image evaluation
  • Imaging modalities
  • Clinical MRI procedures
  • MRI safety procedures
  • Principles of magnetic resonance imaging

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Bachelor of Science in Advanced Radiological Sciences

Although not strictly required in the field, some aspiring MRI technicians may choose to enroll in a bachelor's degree program to gain a more well-rounded education. A Bachelor of Science in Advanced Radiological Sciences is open to registered radiology technologists who seek to specialize in the field and who wish to learn more about specific diagnostic imaging technology, such as MRI technology.

A degree in advanced radiological sciences typically includes classroom lectures and clinical experiences. Students learn theories of quality patient care and patient assessment and management, while also learning advanced MRI procedures and imaging techniques.

Students interested in a bachelor's degree in advanced radiological sciences must typically first become ARRT registered technologists. For this reason, either an associate's degree or a diploma in the field is a prerequisite. Prior educational programs that qualify include those related to MRI technology, radiologic sciences or diagnostic medical imaging.

Bachelor's degree programs in advanced radiological science often feature courses on healthcare management principles and medical regulations and procedures. MRI-specific courses found within such a degree program include:

  • Sectional anatomy
  • MRI physics
  • MRI instrumentation
  • Advanced MRI safety
  • MRI imaging - torso and limbs
  • Comprehensive MRI review

Popular Career Info

With a little additional training and a bachelor's degree or higher, an MRI technologist can become a specialist or a manager in the field. Examples of possible positions include:

  • MRI specialist
  • Radiologist assistant (RA)
  • Chief radiologic technologist
  • Radiologic department manager

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Career opportunities for all radiologic and MRI technologists are anticipated to increase 9% from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). This above-average level of job growth may be a result of an expanding elderly population, as well as increased use of diagnostic testing. The BLS stated that in 2015, MRI technologists earned an average annual salary of $68,340.

Certification and Continuing Education

Some states require MRI technologists to gain licensure from a state board of health before they can legally work in a healthcare organization. Certification from the ARRT is voluntary, but recommended. MRI technologists interested in becoming managers or leaders of an entire radiology department might consider enrolling in a bachelor's or master's degree program in radiology technology and management.

Degree program options for prospective MRI technicians include both associate's and bachelor's degree programs. After graduation, popular careers include MRI specialists or radiologic department managers.

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