MRI Technician Programs and Training

Magnetic resonance imaging can provide a clear, concise view into the human body. MRI technicians are responsible for following physician's orders for MRI tests, including preparing patients for procedures, injecting contrast agents, positioning the patient, adjusting, maintaining, and operating equipment, and working with physicians to determine if further images need to be captured.

MRI tech degree programs

Those who wish to become MRI technicians must have formal training, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov). The most common educational path for an MRI technician is the associate degree. When choosing the right educational path, students should consider their work history and career goals. Here's what to expect from the various MRI technician programs.

  • Associate degrees. The associate degree usually requires at least two year of study, but accelerated programs might mean eighteen months or less. Coursework includes classroom study as well as clinical training.
  • Bachelor's degrees. An MRI technician can also enter the field with a bachelor's degree. These programs usually take at least four years of study to complete, but accelerated programs can cut that time down to two or three years, depending upon the intensity of the program. Students may expect more in-depth courses than offered with the associate degree.
  • Begin as a radiologic technician. Many MRI technicians begin their careers by earning their degree in radiologic technology. Over time, they begin to specialize by giving MRI examinations, and after a few years of experience they are typically ready to sit for the MRI certification exam.
  • Professional certifications. Graduates of an accredited radiologic or MRI program can become licensed by passing a certification exam administered by the state or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Many are first licensed as radiologic technicians, and later take the examination to become an MRI technician.

MRI tech training

Preparation for work as an MRI technician focuses on courses that will hold students in good stead throughout the growth of their career. In addition to general education courses, students can expect to take classes in pathology, patient care, anatomy, image evaluation, and radiation physics and protection, according to the BLS. Students can expect to gain knowledge in the classroom, as well as hands-on experience through clinical studies in a healthcare setting.

Students can prepare for their training by honing the skills and traits that are necessary to do the job well. Good attention to detail and interpersonal skills are a must. Math skills and technical skills, including the knowledge of how to operate and maintain complex machinery, are essential for MRI technicians. Since technicians might help lift and move patients throughout their workday, physical strength and stamina is also expected of MRI techs.

Career outlook for MRI technicians

The BLS reports a favorable employment outlook for those in magnetic resonance imaging, with growth of 24 percent expected from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. Much of this growth is due to an aging population, increased patient access to medical care, and a gradual shift from hospital care to outpatient care facilities. MRI technicians who earn multiple certifications may expect to see the most robust job prospects. MRI technicians earned a national median hourly wage of $31.75 as of May 2013.

Sources:

"Radiologic and MRI Technologists," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics," May 2013, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292035.htm

"Radiologic and MRI Technologists," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/radiologic-technologists.htm

Major: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technology, The College Board, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors/health-professions-related-clinical-sciences-allied-health-diagnosis-intervention-treatment-magnetic-resonance-imaging-technology

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