MRI Technology Masters Degree Program Information
Master's degree programs are not likely to be offered in MRI technology. Instead, students who are interested in pursuing a career in this field can earn an associate degree or certificate. To become a professional MRI technologist, one must take the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists Certification (ARMRIT) examination.
MRI technology programs are not available at the master's degree level. Instead, students seeking to become an MRI technologist typically earn an associate degree in MRI technology, though certificate and bachelor's degree programs are also available. Upon completing an education program technologists may need to secure licensure or certification before practicing.
While the MRI technology associate degree programs are often available to those with just a high school diploma, entrance into the certificate programs may require applicants to have a 2-year degree. Additional program requirements vary by school but may include CPR certification or having current American Registry of Radiologic Technologists certification.
Program Overviews: Associate Degree or Certificate in MRI Technology
To become an MRI technologist, one must complete a training program that leads to an associate degree or certificate in MRI technology. These programs tend to be very selective. Both types of programs prepare students to take the AART or ARMRIT examination and become certified. Some individuals who are already certified also enroll in certificate programs to advance their knowledge.
The main differences between the two programs is the length of time they last and the content of the curriculum. Certificate programs are usually faster paced than associate degree programs; they may last from six months to a year, while associate degree programs take about two years. However, an associate degree in a related field is usually required for entrance into a certificate program.
Both programs involve classroom instruction and clinical rotations. Students are trained to understand magnetic energy fields and utilize them to study the bones, tissues and organs of the human body via image creation on a computer. They learn about medical safety standards and procedures, proper interaction with patients in varying stages of health, operation of MRI machines, noise ratios, pulse sequences, examination procedures, production of quality images and analysis of images.
In order to be accepted into an associate degree or certificate program, applicants must have at least earned a high school diploma or GED. Applicants must also commonly pass a background check and drug test before admission is offered or clinical rotations begin. Different programs have particular requirements and suggested qualifications, and they may request that the applicant:
- Completed certain high school classes such as biology or physics
- Graduated from or is in his or her senior year of a radiography program
- Is AART certified
- Is eligible to become AART certified
- Is a registered sonographer
- Is CPR certified
- Is CNA certified
- Passes a standard entrance test
Associate degree programs also require that the student takes general education courses, while a certificate program only requires courses related to MRI technology. Some of the core classes that students in both the associate degree and certificate programs may take are:
- Anatomy and physiology
- Patient care
- Radiographic and MRI physics
- MRI instrumentation
- MRI positioning and procedures
- MRI pathology
- MRI cross-sectional anatomy
- Imaging ethics
- Image formation principles
- Data acquisition and processing
Popular Career Options
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2008, radiologic technologists, which include MRI technologists, earned a median annual wage of $52,210 (www.bls.gov). Also in May 2008, employment of radiologic technologists was predicted to increase 17% between the years of 2008 and 2018, a growth rate that the BLS defines as faster than average. Some settings where aspiring MRI technologists may seek employment include:
- Outpatient clinics
- Emergency care centers
- Physician's offices
- Private MRI laboratorys
Continuing Education and Career Information
After completing an associate degree or certificate program, students are prepared to take the AART or ARMRIT exam. Upon passing, they become certified and registered as MRI technologists and can seek employment. AART certified MRI technologists are required to complete education courses every couple years to maintain certification. Students may find that the credits from certificate or associate degree programs transfer to bachelor's degree programs in related radiologic fields. According to the BLS, MRI technologists may advance in the field to supervisory positions through experience or through continuing education, like a master's degree program in health policy or business administration.
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