MRI Technologists prepare patients for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) procedures and operate the medical equipment used for these tests. These professionals need to meet certain educational requirements before they can work in the field.
The minimum educational requirement for MRI technologists is an associate's degree. Although associate's degree programs in MRI or radiologic technology are more prevalent, certificate and bachelor's degree programs also exist.
Most MRI technologists start out as radiologic technologists and later choose to specialize in MRI technology, usually within five years of beginning their careers. In order to work as a radiologic technologist, it is necessary to become licensed by the state. However, when transitioning from a radiologic technologist to an MRI technologist position, it is not necessary to earn an additional state license; the radiologic technologist license is sufficient.
Some states also require technologists to become certified. Radiologic technologists may earn a general certificate, or they can choose a more focused certificate in MRI or another specialty area. It is important to note that even in states where certification is not a requirement, many employers prefer to hire candidates who are certified.
|Required Education||Associate's degree from an accredited program|
|Licensure Requirements||Depends on the state; students may take licensure and certificate exams after finishing an associate's degree|
|Job Outlook (2014-2024)*||10% for MRI technologists|
|Median Annual Salary (May 2015)*||$67,720 for MRI technologists|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Radiologic Technologist Licensure Information
Aspiring radiologic technologists who have earned an associate's degree and are considering going on to become MRI technologists must first obtain a license before they can practice. This license is granted to an individual by the state's health department. Licensure is generally required because radiologic technologists are exposed to radioactive substances. Most states require that licensure applicants complete a formal education program accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).
The American Registry of Radiology Technologists (ARRT) has licensing agreements with 37 states and offers exams to state-approved candidates for licensure. This exam is separate from the credentialing exam. The American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists can also assist potential MRI technicians in licensure requirements (www.armrit.com).
Certification Options for Technologists
The ARRT is one of the largest credentialing organizations for medical resonance imaging (wwww.arrt.org). They offer certification in magnetic resonance imaging, as well as nuclear medicine technology, radiation therapy, sonography and radiography. The magnetic resonance imaging certification exam tests applicants on patient care, imaging procedures, date acquisition and principles of image formation. Applicants should be aware that many states use the ARRT certification exam results to make licensing decisions. Additionally, student must have completed a formal education program accredited by JRCERT, or another acceptable mechanism to the ARRT, to sit for the exam.
Many employers also require a basic life support (BLS) certification. The BLS certification attests that the applicant can recognize several life-threatening emergencies. It also stipulates that the applicant can efficiently and effectively stabilize or remedy the situation. This includes being able to perform CPR, use an automated external defibrillator and relieve choking victims. A BLS is typically attained through a one-day course and the passing of a written exam.
MRI Technician Salary and Career Information
Data collected in 2015 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicated that MRI technologists earned a median annual salary of $67,720. The BLS projected 10% job growth in the field from 2014 to 2024, with workers holding multiple professional certifications seeing the most favorable job prospects.
To summarize, students who want to become MRI technologists must first earn an associate's degree and then meet state licensure requirements to become a radiologic technologist. From there, they can direct their careers toward MRI, often by earning a specialized certificate in the field.