MRI technicians use magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, equipment to capture images of internal organs. The profession pays well, with a median yearly salary of $54,340 and is growing, with a projected growth twice that of all other occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. To become an MRI technician, you must be certified in any state in which you intend to practice. Education requirements for technicians revolve around acquiring and maintaining this certification. Getting certified requires an associate or bachelor's degree in radiologic science, and staying certified typically involves continuing education coursework.
To get the radiologic science degree required for MRI technician certification, you have to complete a number of core classes to meet the university's general education requirement. The required classes vary by university, but typically involve at least writing, college algebra and speech. Psychology, history and political science classes are also common core requirements. Many majors have semi-elective core science requirements that allow students to take two semesters of any basic science. This is different for radiologic programs. Radiologic science majors must take specific science classes designed to prepare them for their radiologic coursework. These classes include anatomy and physiology, physics, and chemistry.
The major requirements of a radiologic science program involve two broad categories of coursework -- coursework dealing with the technical principles of MRI work and coursework dealing with clinical and professional practices. The technical coursework includes classes in imaging techniques that help students understand how radiologic imagery works, which entails how radiation and matter interact and how that interaction can lead to digital or film images. There are also courses in operating and maintaining imaging equipment, avoiding certain kinds of radiation, positioning patients and their extremities for imaging, processing film, and producing magnetic resonance imagery.
Clinical and professional coursework is designed to prepare students to work as medical professionals, both with patients individually and within a medical organizations along with doctors, nurses and other technicians. Coursework in patient care describes a technician's role in providing information to and ensuring the physical and psychological comfort of the patient and the patient's family. Other classes provide broad professional training, like small group communication and technical report writing. More medically-focused professional classes cover topics like medical terminology and the organizational structures and policies typical in the medical world.
Every two years, MRI technicians must renew their certifications. Renewal requires that, even after graduation, MRI technicians must periodically fulfill continuing education requirements. Continuing education ensures that technicians stay both proficient in and up-to-date on best practices in imaging procedures. The requirements can be fulfilled either by earning additional certifications or by completing 24 credits, roughly equivalent to 24 hours, of coursework relevant to the technician's specific field. This coursework can be classroom study, home study or online study offered by an accredited program.
- United States Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Radiologic Technologist
- Dallas County Community College District: Magnetic Resonance Imaging AAS
- Oregon Institute of Technology: Curriculum Map for Radiologic Science Degree
- Midwestern State University: Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science Degree Plan
- The American Registry of Radiological Technologists: Continuing Education Requirements
Steve Foster is an educator with a Master of Arts in English. As a writing instructor, Foster shows students the deep, repeatable logic behind grammar rules and the psychology behind document composition, working from the theory that students engage with and absorb ideas best when those ideas are wrapped in strong context.