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What is MRI Technology?
MRI Technology (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) is a division of diagnostic medical imaging used in radiology. MRI's are utilized to create images of human anatomy and psychological processes in both health management and disease identification. A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanner utilizes radio waves, field gradients, and magnetic fields to create images inside the human body.
The MRI scanner is used by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologists to create visible images if the inside the human body including the heart, abdomen, brain, breast, and blood vessels. An MRI image is utilized by medical professionals and physicians to understand a patient and help make a formal medical diagnosis. A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist will work directly with patients and help identify and solve problems with an attending physician. MRI Techs will need to meld medicine, science, and technology with patient care and compassion.
Top MRI Degrees
A path to becoming an Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technician can be via a direct program or indirect program. A direct program is a certificate or degree program specifically designed for an MRI professional. On the other hand, an indirect program can include adjacent areas of study with discrete overlap to the MRI field.
Examples of an overlapping trade area include the field of study of the ultrasound technician, radiological technician, health services, allied professions, medical technician, medical assistant, surgical technician, and medical services. In each case, an argument can be made as to the credibility of an indirect path to becoming an MRI Technician being as viable as a direct degree program.
Below you will find degree and certificate programs for the direct degree program to help you decipher the best path for you.
MRI Certificate Programs
Certificate programs are created to be a focused, intensive series of classes. The objective of a certificate program is to provide valuable, relevant skills & knowledge to students in a compressed period of time. A certificate will take six months to two-years to complete depending on the breadth of the program coupled with your course load & pace. When considering a certificate program, it may highly important to seek schools with an ARMRIT qualification to bolster your career.
MRI Associate Degree
Online associate degree programs in MRI are curated to be two-years in length for full-time students. Part-time students can expect the program to take longer as a function of course load and pace. Associate degrees are conferred as either an Associate of Science (AS), Associate of Science in MRI (ASMRI), or an Associate of Arts (AA). Schools will determine the weight of the classes included in the degree program and confer degrees accordingly.
The associate degree program consists of both general education courses and core curriculum. General education classes may include sociology, psychology, economics, English composition, and communications. Liberal arts classes are included in an associate’s degree program to provide a well-rounded educational experience and help build a set of robust integrative thinking skills.
Classes you can expect to see in an associate degree program in the field of MRI include an array of science, technology, and clinical classes. Examples of courses include the following:
- Medical Terminology
- Patient Care
- Basics of MRI
- MRI Safety
- Radiological Procedures and Protocols
- Pathology in Diagnostic Imaging
- Computer Imaging in Healthcare
MRI Bachelor Degree
Bachelor degree programs can be offered online or in class. Online degrees in MRI will cover the essentials via distance learning tools with clinical experiences at approved healthcare facilities and hospitals. A bachelor’s degree can be conferred as either a Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA). Most bachelor degrees will take student four-years of full time matriculation to complete while others may be compressed into a shorter timeframe.
In addition to the general education courses and core curricula found in an Associate’s degree, students in a bachelor’s degree program can expect to take additional upper-level classes. Classes you may see include: Physics for MRI, Health Pscychology, Advanced Principles of MRI, Clinical MRI, Pathophysiology, ethics, various labs & clinical internships.
Educational Requirements for MRI Techs
In terms of educational requirements, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technology degree holders will have typically studied the following courses while in college:
- Radiology & Ultrasound
- Anatomy & Physiology
- Biomedical Science
Employment Information & MRI Specializations
Degree and certificate holders in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technology can have direct employment paths or indirect jobs in the medical field. A direct-hire employment situation would allow students to have the training needed to move from school to an MRI Tech job in an approved medical facility.
An indirect job would take students into fields in healthcare utilizing similar skills and knowledge found in an MRI program. Examples of similar vocations can include any of the following healthcare careers such as: dental hygienist, ultrasound technician, medical researcher, radiation therapist, immunologist, biological technician, medical scientist, veterinary assistant, diagnostic medical sonographer, nurse assistant, and nuclear medicine technologist.
Job Duties of an MRI Tech
To best understand the role of a trained technician in the radiology field, it is important to know the intricacies of the job itself. By understanding the job and associated activities of a tech, you can more accurately map classes to real-world requirements prior to entering the workforce. The most common job duties of an magnetic resonance imaging technician include:
- Operating a variety of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners
- Accurately conducting medical and health screening interviews of patients to identify restrictions or health concerns in advance
- Communicating the magnetic resonance imaging processes and procedures to patients, family members, and patient health representatives
- Troubleshooting technical issues, calibrate devices, and making back-ups of images for patient files & associated medical providers
- Creating written reports in a standardized fashion to summarize procedures or outcomes for medical professionals and physicians
- Analyzing a variety of images with tools such as magnetic resonance scanner equipment and laser camera to ensure quality images
- Operating a variety of optical systems to capture dynamic magnetic resonance imaging including: trajectory visualization, functional brain imaging, real-time organ motion tracking, or musculoskeletal anatomy
- Ascertain the viability of sedatives or similar medications from physicians to help patients with anxiety, claustrophobia, or similar responses to medical testing
- Selecting the appropriate imaging coils and techniques to achieve the optimal images
- Injecting patients with the appropriate contrast dyes per the scope of the practice
- Helping office staff schedule appointments for clinical patients or research opportunities
Job Titles of MRI Professionals
As you approach college and think about a career in the radiological field, understanding the various job titles in the MRI business will help you detect jobs you may qualify for. Popular job titles in the industry may include a combination of the following:
- Medical Imaging Director
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging Specialist
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging Quality Assurance Coordinator
- Staff Technologist
- Radiological Technologist
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging Supervisor
- Chief Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging Coordinator
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging Director
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist
Careers for MRI Technicians & Job Growth
Job growth for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technicians are expected to grow at nearly twice the rate of all other jobs in the coming decade. The average job in the U.S. is expected to grow by 6% while MRI Techs should swell 13% during this timeframe. Meanwhile, jobs in radiation therapy will rise a brisk 14% with veterinary techs jumping by 20% over the same period.
The median annual income for MRI Techs is currently $60,070 which is $28.88 per hour. Income and total compensation will depend on several factors such as work experience, organization type, education level, skills, and work ethic. The largest employers of MRI Techs is currently hospitals and medical diagnostic laboratories followed by outpatient care facilities and physician's offices.
Resources for MRI Techs
Two of the most prominent and noteworthy associations in the United States for MRI professionals include The American Registry of Radiological Technologists (ARRT) and the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT). Both entities are highly regarded with a substantive membership base & resources for radiological professionals around the country. To learn more, simply connect to these associations for training opportunities, membership benefits, and continuing education courses.