Become an MRI Technician

Do you want a medical career in radiology? Learn about the educational requirements to become an MRI technician and top MRI technician programs.

If you are looking for a career in a respected, high-paying, and flexible field, a medical career is ideal. However, if you are seeking a career that is quick to enter, most medical careers do not fit the bill. One that does is becoming an MRI technician. It does not take as much lengthy or extensive training as many other medical careers. It also offers an enticing combination of job security and flexibility.

Despite the many benefits of becoming an MRI technician, it is not a field you can enter with no training at all. You do need a basic education. Specific radiology training is also required. You must follow all required steps to sign up for MRI training. When you complete it, you must also pursue MRI technician certification and licensing before you can get a job as an MRI technician. Here is what you need to know about the steps involved in pursuing MRI technician training.

What is an MRI?

The term “MRI” stands for “Magnetic Resonance Imaging,” which is a form of radiology. The purpose of MRI technology in medicine is to provide images of internal organs. It does that by combining radio waves and magnetic fields in a particular way. An MRI uses a large tube-like machine to take internal images of bodies. It is commonly called an MRI machine. Patients in the tube must stay as still as possible during the process. They also cannot wear any metallic objects while the images are taken. Then the resulting images are reviewed. Those images are typically referred to as MRI results or sometimes just as MRIs. The purpose of MRIs is usually to look for specific medical conditions. They are often used in the diagnosis of such ailments as:

  • Strokes

  • Brain Tumors

  • Brain Injuries

  • Various Heart Problems, Such as Blocked Arteries

  • Spinal Abnormalities

  • Kidney or Liver Disease

What is an MRI Technician?

An MRI technician is a certified specialist who operates MRI machines and analyzes MRI results in conjunction with doctors. In 2020, approximately 254,000 radiologists and MRI techs worked in the United States. Trained MRI technicians are essential staff members in any locations where medical imaging is a must. Those typically include hospitals and diagnostic or medical research centers. They also include specialty medical treatment facilities, such as medical centers specializing in cancer treatment.

What Personal Skills Do You Need to Become an MRI Technician?

The range of medical skills needed to become an MRI tech is easily taught in training classes. However, it also helps to have certain innate personal skills. For example, as an MRI technician, you must have the ability to put patients at ease as they are having their bodies scanned. You must also feel comfortable working closely with doctors. Therefore, verbal, and written communication skills, a cool temper, and a sense of humor are all important. An eye for detail and good listening skills are also essential.

What Are the Basic Educational Requirements to Become an MRI Technician?

To become an MRI technician, you must complete high school or earn a GED. In most cases, you also cannot get into an MRI training program without already holding an associate degree. Typically, it takes two years to obtain such a degree. However, you can choose from many different degree types. It is only a requirement that your degree is in a medical or closely related field. Examples of acceptable degree fields include:

  • Physics

  • Anatomy

  • Biology

  • Physiology

How Can You Find an MRI Technician Program?

Once you meet basic education requirements, the next step is to find an MRI technician program at an accredited college. Accreditation is required to eventually receive an MRI technician certificate or license. Training from a facility that does not have proper accreditation is a waste of time and money. When selecting a training facility, you must also look at the types of courses offered. Not every radiology program is identical. For example, some schools may offer partial online training that may fit your lifestyle better than an entirely in-person class schedule.

What Facilities Offer Top U.S. MRI Technician Programs?

Many colleges and universities throughout the United States offer MRI technician training programs. When seeking one out, consider your priorities. You may opt to look for one in your local area, or your first concern might be your budget. However, if your priority is to get the best possible training, you must apply to one of the top U.S. MRI tech programs. Some of them are outlined below:

  • Johns Hopkins University Medical School teaches students using a combination of clinical experience, academic study, and advanced training. Advisers are also supplied to help students through the educational process. Additionally, career counseling for graduating MRI tech students is available.

  • University of Pennsylvania (Perelman) has a long-standing history of academic and medical excellence. The first U.S. medical school was founded at the University of Pennsylvania. Today, the school offers top medical courses in a wide range of fields, including radiology. The school also has affiliations with several local hospitals, allowing students to receive practical clinical training.

  • Duke University has one of the best radiology programs nationwide. Its instructors use pioneering techniques and the latest technologies to provide the best possible imaging education to students. Clinical study, supervised practical exercises, and academic learning are all part of its innovative courses.

  • Stanford University is one of the most respected schools in the United States. Its radiology department offers imaging courses required to get MRI technician certification. Available courses also include specialty and advanced radiology studies, such as cancer imaging training.

  • Mayo Clinic offers a one-year MRI training program. Students receive approximately 900 hours of clinical experience. Working directly with patients for most of the year, students immerse themselves in all aspects of the MRI technician position. 

How Do You Finalize Your MRI Training?

After you meet educational requirements for becoming an MRI tech, you must typically apply for official certification. You can get that certification from the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist (ARMRIT) or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Depending on the state in which you reside, you may also be required by law to apply for a state license to practice as an MRI technician. Then you can begin seeking work.