MRI Science Degree Programs with Career Information

Aspiring MRI technologists typically enroll in associate's degree programs in radiologic technology, although experienced medical imaging professionals may also register for radiologic technology certificate programs.

Essential Information

Certificate and associate's degree students get a general knowledge of the field of radiologic technology, with courses including anatomy, safety, imaging and patient care. Extensive clinical experience requirements give students hands-on practice in real healthcare facilities. However, online courses and programs are available in the field.

Graduates can apply for national licensure and certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), which is mandatory in some states. Certificate programs usually last twelve to eighteen months. Admission to an MRI certificate program generally entails prior completion of a relevant associate's or bachelor's degree program and professional certification through the ARRT or a similar organization, like the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers. The MRI certificate program combines classroom and clinical work, and some classes may be offered online. Graduates of these programs often pursue post-primary certification through the ARRT.

Associate's Degree in Radiologic Technology

Radiologic technology associate's degree programs prepare students for careers using a variety of medical imaging equipment, including MRIs. These programs help students build familiarity with anatomy, physiology, radiologic equipment and patient positioning. Students are also trained in basic patient care. Radiologic technology programs prepare students to take the national credentialing exam for radiologists. Students learn a variety of techniques and practices, including the use of MRI machines, through both classroom and laboratory-based courses. Courses commonly taken may include the following:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Radiation safety
  • Radiologic science
  • Radiologic equipment
  • Radiologic exposure
  • Medical ethics

Certificate of Achievement in MRI Technology

MRI technology certificate programs are intended for experienced radiographers and others with medical imaging science experience. Students are trained in MRI technology and patient care, including the use of injections as contrast agents to aid the imaging process. In addition to classroom-based courses, students receive hands-on training with MRI equipment through a variety of clinical courses. MRI technology certificate programs can often be completed in 12-18 months. Students in MRI certificate programs participate in classroom courses and clinical training to learn about MRI technology, safety and patient care. These students often take courses such as the following:

  • History of MRI technology
  • Principles of MRI technology
  • Digital imaging
  • MRI safety

Popular Career Options

Graduates of radiologic technology programs can pursue a variety of fields in medical imaging. Though some require additional training, common career options include the following:

  • Radiologic technologist
  • MRI technologist
  • Diagnostic medical sonographer
  • Computed tomography (CT) technologist
  • Mammographer

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

As of May 2014, there were nearly 230,600 employed radiologic technologists, including MRI technologists, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS expects employment opportunities to increase 9% for radiologic technologists between 2014 and 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. The forecast is highest for individuals with multiple certifications. As reported by the BLS, the median annual salary for radiologic technologists was $56,670 as of May 2015.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Most states require MRI technologists earn licensure, though requirements vary by state. Voluntary certification is also available through ARRT, though many employers require MRI technologists to possess ARRT certification. Upon completing an MRI technology certificate program, an individual can also take the ARRT Board Advanced Level Examination in MRI and become certified as RT(R)(MRI). Generally, an MRI technology certificate is the highest level of education needed for a career in this field.

Associate's degrees in radiologic technology and certificate programs that focus on the operation and interpretation of MRI technology are available. These programs last from a year for certificate programs to two years for associate's programs.

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