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MRI Technologist Education Requirements and Career Info

MRI technologists require some postsecondary formal education. Learn about the education requirements, job duties and certification options to see if this is the right career for you.

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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologists enter the field by obtaining an associate's or a bachelor's degree. Additional licensing or certification requirements vary by state. MRI technologists use equipment to create images of a patient's body, and doctors use these images to diagnose patients.

Essential information

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologists work with large machines that emanate various radio frequencies and powerful magnetic fields to create a 3-dimensional image of a subject. Working in the radiology department, MRI technologists adhere to physicians' instructions and obtain all requested images to help care providers diagnose patients. MRI technologists generally have an associate's degree. Some states require people in these positions to be licensed or certified.

Required Education Associate's degree; bachelor's degrees are available
Other Requirements Licensure or certification depending on state
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* 11% for all MRI technologists
Median Salary (2018)* $71,670 for MRI technologists

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements for MRI Technologists

There are several different ways for MRI technologists to meet education requirements for obtaining employment. Individuals with no previous experience in the field may complete an associate's or bachelor's degree in radiological technology. These programs include classes in anatomy, physiology, biology and other general education coursework. Core courses specific to radiology include training in MRI equipment, patient care and safety protocols.

Students who already have a degree or are licensed by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) may enroll in a MRI technology certificate program. Coursework in this program is specific to just magnetic resonance imaging and include topics in equipment maintenance, patient positioning and imaging procedures. Many programs also incorporate a clinical lab experience where students work in medical centers performing MRI procedures under close supervision.

Certification

These education programs also prepare students to meet state licensing and certification requirements. Some organizations, such as the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMIT), will only certify students who went to ARMIT-approved schools. Requirements vary, but typically include passing an exam.

Career Info for MRI Technologists

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologists conduct diagnostic tests by placing patients inside of a machine to take real-time enhanced images of different parts of the body. Since most traditional MRI machines can be intimidating, MRI technologists must be attentive to patients and keep them calm during the test in order to get an accurate reading.

While patients are in the machine, MRI technologists sit nearby at a computer that both operates the MRI machine and receives the images from the tests. They must verify that each test produces clear enough images to help doctors reach an accurate conclusion. Occasionally MRI technologists need to reposition the patient to produce a better image.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most MRI technologists work out of radiology departments at hospitals. The BLS projects that jobs for MRI technologists will grow about 11%, which is a higher rate than average, from 2018 to 2028. The median salary for MRI technologists as of May 2018 was $71,670 per year, as per BLS reporting.

The job prospects for MRI technologists are expected to be good through 2028. Applicants with an associate's degree will be prepared to enter this field. Certification or a license may be required, depending on the state where the technologist works.

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