HOW TO BECOME AN MRI TECH: The Ultimate Guide

HOW TO BECOME AN MRI TECH
Photo by MART PRODUCTION

Magnetic resonance imaging technicians create inside images of the human body using MRI scanners. These scans are then used to diagnose a variety of crucial illnesses, including brain tumors and dementia, and to help establish treatment plans to enhance a patient’s health.
MRI technicians perform a vital service that saves lives. This article will teach you more about MRI tech, what they do, how much they earn, and what you need to do to become one. Finally, you’ll see recommended courses that can help you earn job-relevant information right now.

Who is an MRI Tech?

An MRI tech is a medical worker who uses an MRI scanner to photograph a patient’s organs and tissues. MRI scans the insides of a patient’s body using radio waves and magnetic fields. MRIs are normally performed at the request of the patient’s doctor. MRIs can aid in the diagnosis of medical disorders such as cysts and cancer.

What Does an MRI Tech?

An MRI technician uses an MRI scanner on patients in a hospital or clinic. They explain the MRI technique as it happens to patients so they know what to expect. The other duties of an MRI technician include:

  • Positioning patients in such a way that clear photos may be captured
  • Following the requesting physician’s instructions regarding the type of photographs required
  • Changing picture settings while scanning to improve image quality
  • assisting patients in remaining calm during the MRI procedure
  • Patients are given contrast media via IV to improve image visibility.
  • Assisting clinicians in analyzing photos to determine diagnoses

How To Become an MRI Tech

Here are a few steps you can take to get started in a career as an MRI technologist:

#1. Research the role

Make sure you want to be an MRI technician before you pursue the requisite education and credentials. Learn the fundamentals of science and practice technical skills. Both of these can be obtained while earning your associate’s degree or through independent study before enrolling. If you enjoy dealing with people and have a strong interest in technology, this could be an excellent career path for you.

#2. Look into MRI technician programs.

The next step is to pick the best program for you. If you have a full-time job, look into programs that offer classes and training at night and on weekends. Most MRI technologist jobs demand at least an associate’s degree, so you should plan on at least two years of study. Some programs provide certification and training, while others require you to finish this training after you get your associate’s degree. Make sure that the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) or the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT) has approved the program you choose.

#3. Obtain a formal education

You can enroll in associate’s degrees in MRI or radiological technology once you have a high school diploma or equivalent. Trade schools, four-year universities, and community colleges all offer this field. You will study physics, technology, anatomy, patient care, and pathology. Clinical work is also available in schools as a supplement to classroom instruction. Although most employers do not require a bachelor’s degree to become an MRI technologist, having one can help you with your job search and prepare you for leadership or specialized positions in the industry.

#4. Obtain certification

Once you have met the educational requirements for MRI technologists, you must obtain certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). The AART has already accredited some training programs, and by passing an additional exam you can apply for certification. The ARRT also contains an ethics requirement to guarantee that your morals are in line with the needs of the field. You may be required to fulfill other state-mandated criteria, such as CPR certification, as with other medical technician professions.

Once certified, you can begin applying for positions as an MRI technologist, just like any other job. Networking with people you met during your studies is a fantastic idea because they can contact you if there are openings at hospitals or other facilities. If your knowledge and skills impress mentors and experienced technicians, they may wish to hire you at their facility. Make sure your résumé is up-to-date with your skills and education. You can also practice interviewing by answering questions about MRI technology and essential ideas.

#6. Advance your career by continuing your education.

If you have an associate’s degree in MRI technology, you can always go on to a bachelor’s degree in the same or a related subject. With higher degrees, you may be able to pursue professions with more responsibility, such as facility or equipment management. You could even consider furthering your education to become a radiologist.

To keep your ARRT certification, you must attend continuing education classes every few years. These could include new ethics requirements, technological developments, or other advancements in the field. The ARRT also offers specialized certifications in mammography, bone density, and cardiac interventional radiography.

MRI Technician Programs

MRI technician programs provide you with the skills you need to succeed in this field. Human anatomy, patient care foundations, ethics, and medical terminology are among the first classes you’ll take. Then, for MRI technologists, you’ll study more advanced procedures and clinical applications.

Most MRI tech programs last one to two years and include both classroom instruction and hands-on training in a clinical setting. They are commonly delivered through colleges, community colleges, and hospitals.

Accredited MRI tech programs and schools include (in no particular order):

#1. Forsyth Technical Community College, Georgia.

Forsyth Technical Community College, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is one of the best colleges in the US for earning an associate degree in MRI technology. Clinical rotations in medical centers, community hospitals, and outpatient imaging centers are part of the two-year program.

Graduates of Forsyth Tech’s program have a national certification exam pass record of 93% and a job placement rate of 100% within 12 months of graduation. Tuition is $5,320 for in-state students and $18,760 for out-of-state students.

#2. Midwestern Career College

Midwestern Career College, situated in Chicago, provides an associate degree in MRI technology in 80 weeks. The MRI tech curriculum at the private college involves an 810-hour externship. Tuition is $7,900 every term, with the clinical externship costing an additional $7,800.

#3. Lansing Community College, Michigan

Lansing Community College, located in Lansing, Michigan, is a public college that offers one of the country’s top associate degree programs in MRI technology. The 16-month program is given entirely online, with clinical education courses organized in collaboration with allied hospitals, clinics, and other MRI provider institutions.

#4. Gurnick Medical Arts Academy

California, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida are all available for the 18-month associate degree program in MRI technology that Gurnick Academy offers. It consists of 246 hours of general education instruction, 620 hours of technical didactic instruction, and 1,020 hours of clinical supervision. The curriculum, however, is expensive, with a total cost of at least $40,000 (depending on the region). Gurnick Academy does provide several scholarships and other sorts of financial assistance.

#5. Casa Loma University

Casa Loma Institution, a private non-profit institution in Van Nuys, California, provides an associate degree in MRI technology. The 22-month curriculum includes online classes, but students must come to school on Saturdays for “theory days.” Students also obtain a total of 1000 clinical hours.

#6. Career Networks Institute

Career Networks Institute (CNI College) offers a full associate degree in MRI technology with 1,746 clock hours. Students take anatomy, MRI pathology, college mathematics, and other courses, as well as a 1,000-hour clinical externship. The curriculum finishes with a capstone course that focuses on certification exam preparation and mock certification exams.

#7. National Polytechnic Institute

National Polytechnic College in Lakewood, California, offers a 22-month associate degree program in MRI technology as well as an 18-month diploma program. Students must complete a 1,040-hour clinical externship in addition to coursework in medical/patient care skills, physics, math, anatomy, medical terminology, theory, and computer skills.

West Virginia University’s Center for Advanced Imaging provides a one-year MRI certificate program. The program is situated on WVU’s Morgantown campus and consists of both didactic and clinical instruction. The cost of tuition is $2,000 per semester.

#8. Casper University

Casper College’s MRI certificate program is a 10-month curriculum with clinical locations in Douglas, Gillette, Sheridan, Rawlins, Lander, and Casper. Residents pay $145 for each credit, whereas non-residents pay $355 per credit.

#9. Galveston Community College

Galveston College’s MRI technology certificate program is designed to be completed after earning an associate degree and is available online or on campus in Galveston. The one-year, 31-credit program is divided into two semesters of coursework and clinical training hours. MRI safety, anatomy, physics, MRI equipment, and special themes in MRI are among the courses offered. Non-residents pay $480 per credit, while Texas residents pay $180.

Internships for MRI Technicians

MRI technologists with clinical experience are more prepared for the position and have a higher chance of getting it. In most circumstances, your MRI technician program will provide you with the essential experience.

An internship or clinical apprenticeship, as well as hands-on experience such as labs and clinical workshops, are required for accredited MRI tech programs. You’ll work with an MRI technician to hone your abilities and obtain a better understanding of your future career.

You can also obtain clinical experience on your own. There is no minimum number of experience hours required to become certified as an MRI technician; however, experience can help you prepare for the certification exam and the job. Employers are also more likely to recruit a tech who has on-the-job experience.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Job as an MRI Technician?

It takes roughly two or two and a half years to become certified and find work as an MRI technician, depending on the path you pursue.

Finding a program that combines an associate degree with MRI technician training is the quickest route. Otherwise, you’ll need to first get an associate degree (up to two years) before enrolling in a different training program (six months to one year at the very least).
That may seem like a long time, but it’s only half the time it takes to get a four-year college degree. And, as you’ll see in the section below, MRI technologists earn more than many college graduates. If you think MRI tech is a good fit for you, investing two years to train for a high-paying, steady career that you’ll enjoy is definitely worth it.

The Benefits of Working as an MRI Tech

If you decide to become an MRI technician, you will gain various advantages:

  • The ability to work from anywhere: Though each state has its own standards and salaries, MRI scans are required across the country so that you can migrate and work wherever you want.
  • Professional development: MRI technologists might advance in their professions to specialized sectors, management, or administrative roles with additional certifications and continuous education.
  • Rewarding career: As with other careers in the medical industry, you may believe you are doing significant work by assisting people on their path to wellness.
  • Flexible schedule: Depending on the facility, you may be able to work flexible hours, such as nights, days, or weekends, to accommodate your desired schedule.

Salary and Career Opportunities for MRI Technicians

MRI technician employment is expected to expand 11% nationally between 2018 and 2028. This increase is mostly attributable to the United States’ aging population and an increase in medical disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2019), MRI technicians earn a median annual pay of $74,270. Wage percentiles in this field are as follows:

  • 10th percentile: $51,150
  • 25th percentile: $61,030.
  • 50th percentile (median): $73,410
  • 75th percentile: $87,280
  • 90th percentile: $101,580

With some experience, excellent MRI technicians can rise to positions such as lead MRI technologist, MRI supervisor, or senior staff technologist in a hospital or clinical setting. In these advanced positions, technologists may supervise other MRI technicians and take on more administrative responsibilities at their facility. These more sophisticated designations and positions are more common in larger hospital settings with a larger workforce, as opposed to smaller outpatient clinics and private physicians’ offices. Furthermore, as MRI technicians develop in their professions, they may have better schedules with fewer nights, weekends, and days spent on call.

Final Conclusion: How to Become an MRI Technician

As an MRI technician, you will have employment stability, a respectable income, and fantastic benefits. You’ll work in healthcare, but for fewer hours and with a better work-life balance than other careers in the field. It’s a great career for folks who thrive in communication, math, science, and technology.
If that sounds like a job for you, here’s how to become an MRI tech:

  • Complete high school.
  • Earn an associate degree in MRI technology or a related subject and then complete an MRI tech training program.
  • Take and pass a certification exam.
  • If your state requires it, obtain your state license.

It typically takes two years to complete the training required to become an MRI technician.
Take classes and participate in activities relating to math, science, and technology while you are still in high school to begin preparing for this job. If your school has a medical program, enroll in it, or look for volunteer or job shadowing opportunities at nearby clinics and hospitals. You will not only acquire experience, but you will also gain insight into whether MRI tech is a vocation for you.

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