Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) degree programs are rarely offered online, but certificate programs are amply available. Online MRI certificate programs are usually part of post-degree programs and are intended for those already employed in radiologic technology. Participants learn how to use imaging equipment that aid doctors in diagnosing diseases and ailments. Before starting a program, students must complete an interview and program orientation/training.
All MRI programs require some in-person clinical experience. Clinicals are generally performed at health care institutions that are affiliated with the school. Online certificate programs can generally be completed in two semesters. Successful program graduates are prepared for testing to become certified MRI technologists.
Program completion also readies radiologic technologists, a term that includes MRI technologists, to meet state licensing requirements. All states require radiologic technologists be licensed. In most states, the licensing requirements include graduation from an approved radiography training program and passing a certification exam administered by the state or by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
Information and Requirements
Prerequisites typically include up-to-date immunizations, a background check and a drug-screening. Some schools also perform interviews, orientation sessions and training for their online programs.
The online format provides flexibility in studying and accessing coursework, although some programs have specific start dates in fall and spring. Students complete their online curriculum via the Internet, and communication is done via e-mail and web-based systems.
As stated earlier, MRI certificate programs blend clinical training with online coursework. Class topics cover the operation of machinery, safety regulations, physiology and image evaluation. Some common courses are listed below.
Magnetic Resonance Equipment and Technology
Students learn how to operate MRI equipment in a safe and accurate manner. Lessons emphasize parameters and options, correct procedures, image quality, special applications, pulse sequencing and signal production.
MRI Principles and Procedures
Fundamental techniques, protocols, clinical applications, positioning and principles related to MRI are the focus of this class. Topics also covered include normal and abnormal anatomical structures, musculoskeletal systems and positioning criteria.
Students learn MRI-related anatomical structures and how to correlate them with images. Different views are also studied including the central nervous system, thorax, pelvis and musculoskeletal systems in identifiable sections.
Overall employment for radiologic technologists, including those specializing in MRI, was expected to increase by 9% between 2014 and 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job prospects were expected to be best for those who knew more than one imaging specialty, such as CAT scan, MRI and mammography. As of May 2015, MRI technologists earned a median salary of $67,720 (www.bls.gov).
Bachelor's degree programs in radiology specialties are available to those wishing to pursue further education. A master's degree in health administration or business can help advance careers in radiologic supervisory, administrative or technology positions.
Also, maintaining an ARRT certification may help in career advancement. Certified technologists must complete 24 continuing education hours every two years to keep the credential current.
While online degree programs in MRI training are not available, students who already have a related undergraduate degree and work experience may pursue an online MRI certificate program. These programs include courses on MRI technology and anatomy and require clinical experiences at health care institutions.