Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technicians are medical specialists in the medical imaging field. Many schools are beginning to offer MRI programs because of the increased role MRI technicians play in the diagnosis process.
Also, like other branches of medicine, to be a licensed MRI technician you will need to attend an accredited college. If you are interested in taking an MRI technician course towards a degree or certificate, this post is for you.
We discuss the best MRI tech schools where you that offers MRI programs either online or on-campus or both.
MRI students learn how to properly produce and analyze a magnetic resonance image. Specialists in this field also use their knowledge of both MRI machines and anatomy to produce clear, high-contrast images which doctors used to diagnose patients illnesses.
An MRI degree or certificate is what you need if it does not satisfy you with the X-ray program you just completed.
An MRI technician program may last only one year (or may include a full BSc program) and it focuses on the technology underlying the operation of an MRI machine. It also focuses on interpreting its results.
The beauty of this medical field is that there is a high demand for its specialists because of the shift of the American health sector to noninvasive outpatient surgery.
We selected our best schools based on accreditation status, affordability and acceptance rate. However, let’s take you through other essential information you need to know about Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
MRI Technician Education
As an MRI student, you are open to several jobs in your career path. By completing at least a certificate or diploma you can access the wonderful job opportunities available to MRI technicians. However, several other students gain an associate or bachelor’s degree.
While most MRI technician programs are delivered through traditional schools or colleges, there are also some available through hospitals. Some other programs focus specifically on MRI training and get students ready for certification as quickly as possible.
These programs typically run between one year to 18 months and include both classroom work and intensive hands-on experience.
Also, several of these programs get accreditation from the American Registry of Magnetic Imaging Resonance Technologists (ARMRIT). Therefore, upon completion of the accredited program, you can apply for the ARMRIT certification.
A common route students take, however, is to get an associate or bachelor’s degree either specifically in MRI technology or in another health-related field. While you can choose from several medical programs, most students prefer to go for Radiologic Technology. However, to qualify as a radiologic technician, you must have certification from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
After earning a radiology technology degree, students then take a specialized MRI training program to prepare them to qualify for certification. Also, if you already hold an associate degree in another medical field, you may only need to take a graduate certificate course to specifically prepare you for work as an MRI technologist.
MRI Tech School Accreditation
You’ll need the ARRT certification to practice as an MRI specialist. However, to pass the ARRT certification exam at the end of your program, you must be a graduate from a program ARRT approved.
Meanwhile, the ARRT accreditation process involves a thorough assessment and application to the ARRT Management Board. This board reserves the right to respond to this request through a personal review process. The accreditation can take between 6 and 12 months.
The Joint Review Committee on Radiological Technology Education (JRCERT), however, is another accreditation body for MRI and other radiology programs. ARRT and JRCERT accreditations are specific to MRI programs.
Therefore, you must check for schools with any or both accreditations if you wish to take either an MRI or radiology course.
However, higher education institutions have institutional accreditation. This accreditation may come from a variety of nationally and regionally recognized bodies. Nonetheless, specialized accreditation is more important when you’re taking a professional course like MRI.
Career Prospects for MRI Technicians
The career prospects of MRI technicians are quite good. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that by the year 2026, there will be 5,000 jobs for MRI technicians in the USA. This corresponds to a growth rate of 13% compared to the average employment growth of 7% on average, this is an impressive rate.
Also, as with many healthcare jobs, the demand for MRI technicians is expected to continue to grow as the US population grows older and needs more medical care.
MRI technology is useful for the elderly as they are susceptible to fractures and fractures caused by osteoporosis.
Hospitals will remain the largest employer of MRI technicians. However, more doctors and outpatient imaging centres should also hire these specialists as the trend is towards outpatient treatment.
Also, as lots of Americans gain insurance under the Affordable Care Act, MRI-certified technologists must be available to make diagnoses that can be paid for by these insurance programs. States with a larger population will naturally have a greater demand for MRI and state with older populations like Florida.
Furthermore, the average annual salary for an MRI technician is $76,003
MRI Technician License and Certification
The American Register of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) offers certification and registration to students who have completed MRI technology programs. To qualify for primary ARRT certification, students must complete and pass an ARRT-approved educational program that meets ethical requirements. The program can be either an associate, bachelor, or graduate degree.
MRI technicians become Certified Technologists (RT) after passing the ARRT exam. However, you must complete training courses every two years to maintain your status at ARRT.
The certification is also available from the American Register of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT). The American College of Radiology (ACR) has recognized this certification since 2008 as equivalent to the ARRT certification. They also accept it as a prerequisite to finding a position as an MRI technician.
Meanwhile, 37 states in the US recognize ARRT exams for licensing purposes. Other states may require you to write their own license exams to get their own credentials. You must check your school to know which is obtainable in the school.
Best MRI Technician Schools
Once again, the MRI technician profession is a highly specialized one. Training for this occupation usually begins after graduation from an associate in radiology. MRI technology, however, is a speciality of this career.
Diploma and Certification MRI Programs
After acquiring a degree in radiology technology, you can get a certificate program or a bachelor’s degree in MRI. The MRI programs we list below have accreditation by the American Register of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).
Here are the best on-campus schools to take an MRI technician course.
#1. Rhode Island College
In collaboration with Lifelong Medical Imaging School, RIC offers a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Medical Imaging. The college is based in Providence, and the program is attractive to students.
It helps them focus on medical diagnostic ultrasound (DMS) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). They also learn nuclear medicine technology (NMT), computed tomography, imaging management, and/or radiological technology.
You may also be interested in the Top 6 Medical Colleges in the USA and Their Tuition fees.
Being a BS program, students also have to take general education courses in humanities to graduate.
Tuition: $9,578 to $23,043
Acceptance Rate: 74.7%
#2. West Virginia University Hospitals
WVU offers a Magnetic Resonance Imaging Certification Program on its campus in Morgantown, West Virginia. Here, students only have to complete intensive training including didactic and clinical training for one year.
This contrasts with the normal four-year bachelor’s program. Graduates are eligible for the ARRT Primary Certification Examination after study. However, you must already have completed a radiological technology program approved by JRCERT.
Tuition: $2,000 per semester and $4,000 for two semesters.
You can also check out the West Virginia University Scholarships 2022.
Acceptance Rate: 72%
#3. University of Nebraska Medical Center
UNMC offers a postgraduate certificate in Magnetic Resonance Imaging on its campus in Omaha, Nebraska. Their School of Allied Health Professions offers this program. In order to apply for the program, you must complete an approved x-ray program.
Also, you will receive initial certification in X-ray or another area. Although the X-ray program can be completed at the UNMC, it is not a requirement.
You’ll also have to fulfill 32 specific study requirements, including 12 semester hours in linguistics or social sciences. At the end of the 9-month program, you can enroll for the ARRT certification in MRI technology.
Tuition: $7,920 to $23,160.
Acceptance Rate: over 50%
#4. Casper College
This MRI tech school offers a 10-month MRI certificate program for candidates who already have an associate degree. The ARRT sees this MRI program Casper College offers as a primary pathway program, however.
This means that the clinical examination requirements for students are reduced. Once you complete the main course program, you are eligible to write the ARRT MRI certification exam. The college is in Casper, Wyoming but has clinical locations in six (6) places, including Douglas.
Tuition: $135 to $333 per credit unit.
Acceptance Rate: 100%
#5. Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts
This MRI tech school offers an Associate Degree program at its campuses in San Mateo, Sacramento, and Modesto, California. GAMA’s MRI program lasts 72 weeks and includes 5 lessons per week (different days from Monday to Saturday).
Unlike many other MRI technology degree programs, this program does not require any new students with a degree in radiology. This can be an interesting feature for those who want to work as an MRI technician immediately.
Acceptance Rate: 100%
#6. Thomas Jefferson University
This MRI tech school’s School of Health Professions offers a magnetic resonance imaging program. This program is to prepare students for entry-level MRI technology. The program has high certification rates for graduates.
For example, in 2016, all undergraduate students passed their MRI certification exam. Compared to a national average of 75% Also, all of them were hired within one year of graduation.
Jefferson offers you several ways to complete your MRI training program, including joint programs with local high schools. This makes it one of the few MRI technology programs that high school students can start even before they graduate.
Acceptance Rate: 60.7%
#7. Forsyth Tech Community College
This MRI tech program at Forsyth Tech community school teaches students to become MRI professionals through clinical, lab, and classroom settings. The MRI technician course includes clinical rotation in major medical centers, community hospitals, and outpatient imaging centers.
However, the classroom work grooms students in courses in patient care, medical ethics, and cross-sectional anatomy and pathology. Of course, this is besides MRI physics and MRI procedures.
Forsyth Tech, with the main campus at Winston-Salem, boasts of a 94% MRI program completion rate.
Tuition: $5,320.00 to $18,760.00
Acceptance Rate: 100%
#8. Lake Michigan College
The MRI tech program Lake Michigan offers is in partnership with other Michigan Community College in the Michigan Radiologic and Imaging Science (MiRIS) Consortium. Lake Michigan’s MRI tech program is an Associate in Applied Arts and Science degree in Magnetic Resonance Imaging, however.
Also, the program has accreditation by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT). By the end of your study at Lake Michigan College, you will be fully prepared to sit for and pass the ARRT certification examination.
Acceptance Rate: 100%
#9. Career Networks Institute (CNI)
This MRI tech school offers a 1720 clock hour comprehensive Diploma Program. This MRI technician course comprises 60.0 credit units. Also, the CNI MRI course structure combines an introduction to medical/patient care skills, physics, math, medical terminology, and human anatomy.
It also combines cross-sectional anatomy, theory, laboratory, computer skills, and a clinical externship of 1000 hours. CNI with its intensive study curriculum assures you of taking either an MRI Technology or an MRI technician career route after completing your study.
CNI has accreditation by the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT) and other regional accreditation.
Acceptance Rate: 100%
#10. Community College of Baltimore County
This MRI tech school’s Magnetic Resonance Imaging program provides the working Radiologic Technologist with the theoretical background and documented clinical experience they need to sit for the ARRT exam.
Thus, the school uses the American Society for Radiologic Technologists (ASRT) suggested curriculum to train students. They follow the ARRT clinical standards of clinical teaching. However, the school offers the required didactic components and optional clinical components based on the students need.
You can get the didactic component of the curriculum through an online study using Blackboard in a classroom setting with lectures and discussion. Meanwhile, you’ll take the clinical component in an array of clinical affiliates.
Tuition: $100 to $286 per credit unit.
Acceptance Rate: 100%
#11. University of Utah
This University’s Health Care Department of Radiology offers the MRI technician course. The MRI tech Certificate program of Utah has a time duration of six (6) months. You can get certificates in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) if you’re a certified Radiologic Technologists RT (R).
You can as well get certificate degrees in Radiation Therapists RTR (T) or Nuclear Medicine Technologists RT (N) or NMTB. The University of Utah’s MRI programs will teach you to produce computerized magnetic images of anatomy to aid in the diagnosis of disease and injury.
Furthermore, you can take Utah’s MRI tech program two academic sessions a year – January and July. The school combines clinical and didactic educational experience to give you the necessary MRI technologist entry-level skills.
Acceptance Rate: 76.4%
Hybrid and Online Programs
Make no mistake about this, to become a trained MRI technician, you need clinical education and experience. However, some accredited schools offer their didactic part of the program online to provide their students flexibility.
This is especially useful for MRI technicians who may already work in radiology and want to continue their studies in a way that suits their schedule.
Here are the best online MRI tech schools where you can take a hybrid MRI technician course.
#12. Greenville Technical College
Although it offers online MRI technician courses, Greenville is in the Greater Greenville, South Carolina area. GTC offers an MRI tech program that is very convenient. The basic program is fully online, and it is organized in such a way that students only have to meet one day a week for didactic training.
With this online MRI tech school, you can also have afternoon and evening hours. However, for clinical training, you must work 495 hours in a licensed clinical setting that suits the school. Meanwhile, the GTC program has accreditation by ARRT and thus allows graduates to take their primary certification exam.
Tuition:$2,389.00 to $4,705.00
Acceptance Rate: 100%
#13. Galveston College
To qualify for the Galveston College MRI Technology Certificate Program, you must complete an Associate degree. This online MRI tech school’s program comprises two semesters of courses that you can take in the Galveston campus, Texas or online.
The online program, however, allows you to start in the fall or spring. This means that there may be fewer gaps between the AS degree and getting MRI certification. You may complete the required clinical training hours at any GC site.
This includes the University of Texas Medical Department.
Tuition: $160 to $420 per credit unit.
Acceptance Rate: 100%
#14. East Tennessee State University
This online Tennessee MTI tech school officers its MRI technician certificate course through the Office of Professional Development. You can complete its didactic courses for the certificate program online.
However, you must complete at least 312 hours of MRI technician clinical coursework before you can take the ARRT exam. ETSU’s clinical part of its MRI tech program is available in Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Missouri, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas.
This makes it even more flexible for students in the southeast.
Tuition: $11,220 to $12,810.
Acceptance Rate: 91.6%
#15. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS):
This online MRI tech school offers the Advanced Certificate in Magnetic Resonance Imaging. This program will teach you to work closely with patients, using your knowledge of anatomy, physiology, and MRI principles.
MCPHS MRI program is fully online and has a time duration of twelve (12) months. It is suitable for working technologists who wish to increase their marketability through instruction in an additional modality. It is also for technologists already working in MRI and need primary certification.
However, to gain admission into this MRI tech school for this program, you must have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. You’ll also need current certification by ARRT, NMTCB or ARDMS.
Tuition: $415per credit unit.
Acceptance Rate: 84.5%
#16. Baptist Health System School of Health Professions:
This online MRI tech school is in San Antonio, Texas. Its Department of Medical Imaging Technology offers the MRI tech program and the program curriculum runs for 3 semesters towards a Diploma certificate. This MRI tech school’s coursework involves a didactic and clinical curriculum.
While you can take the didactic courses online the clinical experience occurs within the clinical arena. This could be at a hospital or outpatient imaging center. Also, there are three clinical schedules of 18 hours per week.
The first MRI clinical schedule takes 8 weeks to complete, while the other two takes 16 weeks to complete. After completing this online MRI technician school course, you will gain certification with either ARRT or ARMRIT.
Acceptance Rate: 69.2%
#17. Casa Loma College:
This online MRI tech school is in Van Nuys, California. The MRI technician program at Casa Loma College is towards an Associate of Science Degree. It is a 22-month program that has accreditation from the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
ARMRIT and ARRT approve it for MRI Primary Pathway Certification. You’ll receive in-class instruction, online instruction, laboratory experience, and clinical practicum experience in this MRI program.
Also, the MRI technician course and clinical practicum courses encompass six consecutive semesters. For the courses, participate up to 40 hours per week. However, for the Clinical experience, you’ll get it in a variety of health care facilities.
Furthermore, Casa Loma’s MRI qualifies you for the ARMRIT and ARRT Primary Pathway Certification upon completion.
Acceptance Rate: 60.3%
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is in Medical Imaging and a subdiscipline of Radiology. Thus, one of the major ways students gets into this specialization is by first gaining a degree in radiology.
For this reason, the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) is a linking certification for an MRI degree. Meanwhile, the American Registry of Magnetic Imaging Resonance Technologists (ARMRIT) and the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) are the major accreditation body for MRI technicians.
You’ll, therefore, have to check that your school has accreditation from one, both, or another related specialized body before applying.
The MRI tech school’s accreditation determines whether you’ll sit for the certification exam and gain a license. Meanwhile, Bachelor’s degree programs are hardly available for MRI technicians. Thus you must get a BS in Radiology Technology then take an Associate Degree in MRI technology.
There are affordable online MRI tech schools, but you must take the clinical part of the MRI technician course physically in a clinic.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I get a certification in MRI?
In order to get an MRI certification, you must complete the ARRT certification requirements. It includes holding an associate’s degree in radiography, complying with all the ethics requirements, and taking the certification examination.
How long will it take to become an MRI Tech?
Based on the combination of programs and your prior education, most tech hopefuls spend between 2 and 3 years studying to be fully qualified. However, an MRI tech needs to get one of the following degrees or certificates: Associate or bachelor’s of science–Radiography with MRI.
Which education do I need to become a tech in MRI?
MRI technicians usually need at least an associate’s degree in magnetic resonance imaging. Also, they need to get state licensure by passing the certification offered through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.
What is the starting salary of MRI techs?
The average annual salary of an MRI technician was $65,098, higher than the average salary of all radiologic technologists and nearly $10,000 higher than the average MRI technician salary reported by the ASRT in 2004.
Is it harmful to become an MRI technician?
There are no recorded harmful effects associated with temporary exposure to the magnetic field used by MRI scanners. It does not expose patients to radiation, unlike X-rays or CT scans. All this makes the procedure safe for both the patient and the MRI technician, working in proximity to the scanner.
What is the cost of becoming an MRI tech?
Honestly, the average costs to complete a Radiology Tech program at an accredited school fall into the following ranges: One-year Certificate Program – $2,500-$10,000 annually. Two-year Associate’s Degree – $4,000-$12,000 annually. Four-year Bachelor’s Degree – $7,000-$13,000(in-state); $12,000-$27,000 (out-of state) .
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