Magnetic resonance imaging is a specialized technology used to diagnose many diseases. MRI technicians, more commonly known as technologists, perform the examinations according to a physician's instructions. MRI technologists may be experienced radiologic technologists who have specialized in MRI procedures or may complete a formal course of study to learn the techniques. Most MRI technologists have an associate degree.
Starting in Radiologic Technology
MRI technologists often begin their careers in radiologic technology, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They then learn to perform MRI examinations on the job, and after several years of experience, sit for the MRI certification examination. Radiologic technologists may have an associate degree, bachelor's degree or postsecondary certificate. However, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists notes that effective January 1, 2015, an MRI technologist must have an academic degree to sit for the certification examination. State certification requirements vary, but in some states, an MRI technologist must be licensed or certified, according to the BLS.
Focus on MRI Technology
A second option to become an MRI technologist is to complete an academic program in the field. Although some programs offer a certificate, the BLS notes an associate degree is the most common for MRI technologists. These programs typically take two years, and include coursework in such subjects as anatomy, pathology, patient care, radiation physics and protection, and image evaluation. Accredited programs also qualify the student to sit for the certification examination. The BLS notes demand for MRI technologists is projected to be 24 percent from 2012 to 2022, about twice the average for all occupations. The average annual salary was $65,960 in 2013, according to the BLS.