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Become a MRI Technician: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become an MRI technician. Research the education and career requirements, licensure and experience required for starting a career as an MRI technician.

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Do I Want to Be an MRI Technician?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technicians operate the scanners that capture images inside a patient's body to help diagnose ailments. They are responsible for preparing patients for the procedure and positioning them inside the scanners that use powerful magnets instead of radiation. The captured images are then reviewed by a physician. Some techs work nights, holidays and weekends in order to offer emergency services around the clock.

Job Requirements

In order to become an MRI technician, individuals will need to complete an associate's degree in magnetic resonance imaging. Students will also need to earn licensure and certification based partly on experience. The table below includes the requirements to become an MRI technician.

Common Requirements
Degree Level Associate's degree*
Degree Name Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)*
Licensure/Certification State licensure may be earned by passing a certification examination.*
Experience Experience in a clinical setting is required for certification eligibility.**
Key Skills MRI technicians must be able to follow directions from physicians and communicate effectively with patients. The job also requires that MRI technicians have a basic understanding of the sciences and imaging procedures.**
Technical Skills MRI scanners are highly complicated pieces of equipment and technicians must understand how to operate these machines.*

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)*; Monster.com**

Step 1: Earn an Associate's Degree

Aspiring MRI technicians will often need to graduate with at least an associate's degree. MRI programs are available at the associate's degree level and will prepare graduates to work as a technician. The program combines academic coursework with laboratory requirements. Before beginning MRI-specific courses, students will take basic science courses in biology, physics and anatomy. MRI courses include MRI physics, MRI procedures, MRI imaging analysis and pathophysiology.

Success Tips

  • Choose an accredited program. In order to be eligible for certification, you will need to choose a program that has been accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology.

Step 2: Participate in a Clinical Experience

Students in an MRI program at the associate's degree level will be required to participate in a clinical experience at a hospital or medical clinic. This offers individuals an opportunity to work and learn under an experienced MRI technician. Students will begin to apply what they have learned in their coursework into a practical setting.

Success Tip

  • Begin developing connections. Participating in a clinical experience can also lead to employment opportunities, so it's important to begin developing contacts in the field. Upon graduation, your clinical experience can lead to job interviews or employment.

Step 3: Obtain Licensure and Certification

According to the U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics, imaging professionals who graduate from an accredited program can earn state licensure by passing certification offered through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Those who meet the MRI education and experience requirements while in school are eligible for MRI certification with the organization. To obtain certification, individuals must pass an examination. The exam ensures that MRI technicians understand elements of patient care, imaging procedures, data acquisition and processing and physical principles of image formation.

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