How to Become an MRI Tech? 2024 Insights & Practices

How to Become an MRI Tech
Credit: Medium

Magnetic resonance imaging technologists create internal images of the human body using MRI scanners. These scans are then used to diagnose a variety of critical conditions, including brain tumors and dementia, and to help develop treatment plans to improve a patient’s health. Basically, an MRI tech perform a vital service that saves lives.

But how do you become one? This article will go over all you should know about MRI technologists, what they do, how much they make, and what it takes to become one.

Without further ado, let’s get the ball rolling…

What Exactly is an MRI Tech?

An MRI tech is a medical professional 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 typically performed at the request of the patient’s doctor. MRIs can aid in the diagnosis of medical conditions like cysts and tumors.

What Does an MRI Tech Do?

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

  • Positioning patients in such a way that clear images can be captured
  • Following the requesting physician’s instructions regarding the type of images required
  • Changing image parameters 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 physicians in analyzing images to determine diagnoses
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How to Become an MRI Tech

Here are the six steps to getting started as an MRI tech:

Earn an associate’s degree

An associate’s degree is usually required for most MRI programs and certifications. Students can pursue an associate degree in any field. Most aspiring MRI technologists major in biology, anatomy, physics, or a closely related field.

Enroll in an MRI technician training program

Candidates for MRI certification must first complete an MRI tech program. Aspiring MRI technologists should apply to MRI programs that are accredited. The American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (AMRIT), the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT), and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) are all accreditation organizations.

MRI tech programs typically combine traditional academic training with hands-on experience with MRI procedures and tools. Students study MRI physics, cross-sectional anatomy, patient care procedures, MRI image analysis, and other related topics.

Accumulate clinical experience

Aspiring MRI technologists can gain actual work experience in a clinic or hospital through MRI clinical experience. Some students may receive clinical training as part of their MRI program, whereas others may seek clinical training on their own. Clinical apprenticeships allow individuals to work alongside a real MRI technician while honing their skills.

Acquire certification

All MRI technologists must be certified by a legitimate organization. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) certification is the most common. ARMRIT, on the other hand, grants MRI certifications. After completing an MRI tech program and gaining work experience, professionals can pursue this certification.

Obtain a state license

Licenses are required in some states for MRI technologists. Before applying for MRI jobs, make sure to research the legal requirements in your state.

Continue your education or obtain additional certifications

MRI technologists who want to advance or become supervisors should look into additional professional development opportunities. Some people may choose to take classes and obtain certifications for other types of medical technician positions, such as sonography or radiography. Others may pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree in radiologic technology, chemistry, nuclear medicine technology, imaging sciences, or a closely related field.

How Long Do Programs Last?

The length of the programs is determined by your prior education and/or experience in the field of medical diagnostics. It can last up to two years or as little as six months.

Common Course Outlines

You will need to learn all of the necessary skills to become an MRI technologist during your program.

Technical skills required for technologists include the ability to operate MRI scanners and generate images, as well as attention to detail and an understanding of how the human body responds to electromagnetism. You should also learn to be personable and kind when interacting with patients, and you must have excellent communication skills!

While these may appear to be simple skills to master, they require practice and refinement in order to be effective in your job. The technical skills required to operate an MRI scanner can be complex. You must learn how to operate these sophisticated machines!

If you want to know what courses are required in your program, you can find the curriculum on your school’s website. In the Med College program, students can expect to take introductory-level medical classes such as medical terminology, human anatomy, and patient care fundamentals. They will also take classes on advanced techniques and clinical applications for MRI technologists.

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Certifications and Licensing

The requirements for MRI technologist licensing and certification differ depending on where you live. You must complete an accredited MRI technologist program to become a certified MRI technologist.

In addition, to become certified as an MRI technologist in Florida, students must either pass an exam or be certified by endorsement. While certification is not always required, many potential employers may prefer that you obtain certification in one or more specialties.

To become a certified MRI technician, you must first obtain one of two certifications. The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist (AMRIT) are the two organizations.

If you want to learn more about your state’s licensing and certification requirements, contact your state health board. If you are looking to enroll in a program in Florida, the state health board can be found here.

Skills for MRI techs

MRI technologists should focus on developing the following skills in addition to having expert knowledge of imaging sciences, MRI tools, and related subjects:

  • Communication skills. At each stage of the procedure, MRI technicians must clearly explain MRI procedures and expectations to patients. If a patient has a question about a procedure or a tool, MRI technologists should be able to provide straightforward answers.
  • Pay close attention to the details. When capturing MRI scans, MRI technologists must pay close attention to details. An MRI technician manages image resolution, angle, coloring, and other factors that influence how well a physician can analyze potential diagnoses. MRI technologists frequently assist physicians in interpreting MRI images.
  • Empathy. Some MRI patients may be concerned about the MRI procedure, the results of their MRI test, or both. Other patients may have pre-existing physical discomfort that prompted their doctor to recommend an MRI. MRI technologists should try to be sympathetic to patients in both cases.
  • Mathematical Skills. To improve the visibility of an image, MRI technicians may need to administer contrast media to patients via IV. An MRI technician employs mathematical skills to determine how much contrast media a patient should receive.
  • Critical Thinking. MRI technicians make decisions about how to capture images of a patient’s organs or tissues. When deciding on the best approach for taking quality photographs, they must be able to weigh multiple factors, such as the physician’s needs and the anatomical structure of the area they are photographing.

Work Environment for MRI Techs

The majority of MRI technologists work in the radiology department of hospitals. MRI technicians can also find work in clinics, universities, diagnostic imaging centers, and other healthcare settings.

Salary and Job Prospects

The average annual salary for an MRI technologist in the United States is $89,889 as of 2021. Salaries for MRI technicians vary depending on a variety of factors, including years of experience, geographic region, and location of employment.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that job opportunities for MRI technicians will grow by 7% by 2030, which is faster than the average for most professions. This projected increase in MRI tech jobs is due in part to an expected increase in medical issues that use diagnostic imaging, such as dementia or cancer.

What Is the Difference Between an MRI Technician and an MRI Technologist?

MRI technologists and technicians have similar responsibilities, but technologists are usually certified by the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists. They may also hold a higher level of education than a technician. To demonstrate their ability to perform diagnostic imaging examinations, both MRI technicians and technologists must pass a credentialing exam.

What Is an MRI Technician’s Work Schedule?

MRI technicians, like other health-care workers, typically work irregular hours based on the needs of their patients. MRI technicians who work in hospitals may be required to work longer or more unusual shifts, such as in the evenings and on weekends. Some technicians also work part-time in physician’s offices, which may provide them with more scheduling flexibility.

What Are the Best Cities for MRI Techs?

Some cities pay MRI technicians more than the national average. In New York City, for example, these technicians earn an average of $123,502 per year. In Oklahoma City, MRI technicians can earn up to $122,281 per year.

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How do I become an MRI technician in the United States?

Earn an associate degree in MRI technology or radiography, or earn an associate degree and then enroll in an MRI tech training program. (Most training programs require an associate’s degree.) Pass a certification exam* (usually administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists).

How do I become an MRI Tech in the United Kingdom?

A degree in radiography or a related field is required to become a certified MRI technician in the United Kingdom (UK). A Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in radiography or a postgraduate diploma in medical imaging can help you get there.

What do radiographers go by?

Radiographers, also known as radiologic technologists, are medical professionals who operate specialized scanning machines that generate images for diagnostic purposes. They use X-ray machines, CT scanners, and advanced technologies like digital fluoroscopy.

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