MRI Technologist Programs

For students who have completed a radiology program and want to expand their skills beyond taking x-rays, enrolling in a degree or certificate in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologist program is a logical next step.

Depending on previous education, an MRI technologist program can take as little as one to two years to complete or four years for a full bachelor of science curriculum. A two-year associate’s degree is required for most entry-level MRI technologist positions. At their core, MRI technologist programs focus on the technology behind operating MRI machines and the skills to interpret their results. MRI technologists are essential in helping diagnose or rule out medical conditions so that patients can get the treatments they need to live healthier lives.

As the healthcare industry continues to shift towards outpatient to meet increasing demands, the demand for MRIs and other non-invasive procedures is expected to increase. The dedicated students who leap into this specialty now will reap its benefits in the coming years, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2022) expects the demand for MRI technologists to grow by 6 percent between 2021 and 2031. In the same decade, the BLS estimates 17,000 new positions will be needed nationally, making this a sound career investment.

In addition to technical skills, a successful MRI technologist (or MRI tech) must follow physicians’ instructions meticulously and have a high level of emotional intelligence to put anxious patients at ease to get accurate medical imaging results.

Read on to learn more about the demand for MRI techs in the United States and what type of educational and certification requirements are required to pursue this growing career.

MRI Technologist fast facts
Projected Jobs Created17,000
Projected Job Growth6%
Average Salary$77,360
Low Salary$59,110
High Salary$100,870
Entry-Level EDU Associate's Degree
Source: BLS May 2022

MRI Technologist Degree & Certification Programs

MRI technologists perform specialized tasks to operate MRI machines which aid physicians in diagnosing or ruling out medical conditions. Education requirements for this job begin at the associate’s degree level but can expand into a bachelor’s degree. Those seeking this specialization in areas such as mammography may choose to pursue a graduate-level certificate program or a bachelor’s degree in magnetic resonance imaging.

When researching MRI technologist programs, finding an accredited program is a top requirement. To qualify for MRI certification and registration, candidates must complete a program from a two- or four-year educational program approved by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT), the world’s largest credentialing organization for medical imaging professionals. Accreditation is awarded to programs and institutions and may hold accreditation from more than one organization.

The ARRT does not accredit MRI tech programs. Still, it does recognize MRI tech programs that follow course sequences and include essential competencies that provide students with sufficient background knowledge and clinical experience to take the ARRT exams.

Although this is not a complete list, here are some schools that an ARRT-approved organization has accredited.

Rhode Island College (RIC)

In conjunction with Lifespan School of Medical Imaging, RIC offers a bachelor of science (BS) degree in medical imaging. The diversity of this program, based in Providence, Rhode Island, allows students to earn a concentration in either diagnostic medical sonography (84 credits), magnetic resonance imaging (84 credits), nuclear medicine technology (86 credits), RT computed tomography (82 credits); medical imaging management (60 to 92 credits); or radiologic technology (87 credits). As it is a BS program, students must take general education liberal arts courses to complete their degree.

The curriculum includes courses such as principles of computed tomography; microbiology; sonographic principles and instrumentation; medical terminology in medical imaging; foundations of nuclear medicine technology; and advanced procedures in radiography.

Graduates of the program will be eligible to take national certification examinations offered by the American Registry of Diagnostic Medical Sonographers; the Nuclear Medicine Technology Certification Board; or the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

  • Location: Providence, RI
  • Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Expected Time to Completion: 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($10,966 per year); Northeast Neighbors ($15,706 per year); out of state ($26,499 per credit)

West Virginia University Hospitals

As part of the Center for Advanced Imaging, WVU offers a magnetic resonance imaging certificate program out of its Morgantown, West Virginia campus. Unlike four-year bachelor’s programs, students need to commit to just one year of intensive training that includes didactic and clinical education. Graduates from this program are eligible to sit for the ARRT primary certification exam.

To meet eligibility requirements, applicants to the certificate program must have already completed a Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) accredited program in radiologic technology. The program only enrolls four students per year, so applicants must meet all their written application requirements and personal interviews.

  • Location: Morgantown, WV
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC); Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $2,000 per semester

University of Nebraska Medical Center

The UNMC College of Allied Health Professions offers a post-baccalaureate certificate in magnetic resonance imaging out of its Omaha, Nebraska campus. Candidates must have completed an accredited radiography program and have their primary ARRT certification in radiography or another field to apply to the program. The radiography program may be completed at UNMC, but that is not a requirement.

Applicants must have completed 32 specific college prerequisites, including 12 credits of language or social sciences, three sreditsemester hours ocreditsemester hours of natural sciencecreditsemester hours of electives. The curriculum includes courses such as sectional anatomy & pathology; MRI physics & systems; MRI position & protocol; and MRI clinical education. Upon completing the nine-month program, students can sit for the ARRT certification in MRI technology.

  • Location: Omaha, NE
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC); Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Nine months
  • Estimated Tuition: $4,140 per semester

Casper College

Located in Casper, Wyoming, with clinical locations in Douglas, Gillette, Sheridan, Lander, Rawlins, and Casper, this radiography program is set up to meet the needs of any student

credits in Wyoming. Casper College offers a 10-month MRI certificate program to applicants that already hold an associate’s degree. The MRI program is recognized as a primary pathway program by ARRT, which means fewer clinical exam requirements for students. Students who complete the primary pathway program will be eligible to sit for the ARRT MRI certification exam.

Graduates of this program will have opportunities in a variety of settings such as hospitals, mobile imaging, research centers, and private clinics. In addition, they will have further opportunities in specialty areas such as magnetic resonance imaging, ultrasound, mammography, nuclear medicine, cardiovascular or interventional imaging, and radiation therapy.

  • Location: Casper, WY
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 10 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($147 per credit); non-resident ($357 per credit)

Galveston College

Designed to be completed after an associate’s degree, the GC MRI Technology certificate program consists of two semesters of courses that can be completed either on-campus in Galveston, Texas or online. The online program allows students to begin in either the fall or spring semester, meaning there can be less lag time between completing one’s AS degree and obtaining MRI certification.

Required clinical training hours can be completed at any affiliated GC location, including the University of Texas Medical Branch. Galveston College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Comprising 31 credits, the program includes courses such as magnetic resonance imaging safety; principles of MRI; sectional anatomy for medical imaging; magnetic resonance imaging physics; MRI equipment; and special topics in MRI (pathology).

Graduates will be eligible to sit for the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) MRI registry exam.

  • Location: Galveston, TX
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident of Texas ($300 per credit); non-resident ($792 per credit)

Thomas Jefferson University

The Thomas Jefferson University College of Health Professions in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, offers a magnetic resonance imaging program that prepares students for entry-level employment in MRI technology. The program has notably high certification rates for graduates. For instance, in 2020, all graduating students passed their MRI certification exam the first time, and all were employed after graduation.

Jefferson gives students many options for completing the MRI training program, including joint programs with local high schools, making it one of the only MRI tech programs that high school students can start before graduating from high school.

The program’s curriculum includes courses such as patient care & services in diagnostic imaging; MRI physics & instrumentation; cross-sectional anatomy; MRI patient care & safety; MRI procedures; imaging informatics; and MRI special topics.

  • Location: Philadelphia, PA
  • Accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools; Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 12 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $1,355 per credit

List of MRI Technologist Schools

Filter by state :
School City State Website GRADS ('21)
CBD College Los Angeles California 51
National Polytechnic College Lakewood California 38
Career Networks Institute Santa Ana California 31
Casa Loma College-Van Nuys Van Nuys California 31
Midwestern Career College Chicago Illinois 27
Owens Community College Perrysburg Ohio 17
Weber State University Ogden Utah 16
MCPHS University Boston Massachusetts 16
Loma Linda University Loma Linda California 15
Med Academy Hialeah Florida 13
Greenville Technical College Greenville South Carolina 11
Forsyth Technical Community College Winston-Salem North Carolina 10
Edgecombe Community College Tarboro North Carolina 9
Orangeburg Calhoun Technical College Orangeburg South Carolina 9
Rhode Island College Providence Rhode Island 9
Community College of Baltimore County Baltimore Maryland 6
University of Mississippi University Mississippi 5
Middlesex Community College Middletown Connecticut 5
University of Nebraska Medical Center Omaha Nebraska 5
University of New Mexico-Main Campus Albuquerque New Mexico 5
Southern Crescent Technical College Griffin Georgia 4
William Rainey Harper College Palatine Illinois 4
Wake Technical Community College Raleigh North Carolina 4
South College Knoxville Tennessee 4
Lansing Community College Lansing Michigan 4
Sacramento Ultrasound Institute Sacramento California 3
Bucks County Community College Newtown Pennsylvania 3
West Virginia University Hospital Departments of Rad Tech and Nutrition Morgantown West Virginia 3
Augusta Technical College Augusta Georgia 3
Saint Louis University Saint Louis Missouri 2
Sinclair Community College Dayton Ohio 2
Universidad Central Del Caribe Bayamon Puerto Rico 2
Lake Michigan College Benton Harbor Michigan 2
Central Georgia Technical College Warner Robins Georgia 2
Autry Technology Center Enid Oklahoma 2
College of DuPage Glen Ellyn Illinois 1
'20-'21 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in September, 2023)

MRI Technologist Hybrid & Online Programs

Clinical training and experience are the keys to becoming a fully educated and prepared MRI tech. However, accredited schools offer the classroom portions of their training programs online for maximum flexibility. This is particularly useful for MRI technologists who may already be working in radiology departments and wish to further their education while working in their current positions. Here is a list of hybrid and online MRI technologist programs.

Greenville Technical College

With campuses throughout the greater Greenville, South Carolina area, the GTC’s MRI program can be quite convenient. The core curriculum is offered entirely online and organized so that students need to meet for didactic training just one day per week, with both afternoon and evening schedules available. For clinical practice, students must work a total of 495 hours at an approved clinical location site. The GTC program is recognized by the ARRT and allows graduates to sit for their primary certification exam.

Made up of 34 credits, the program includes courses such as introduction to MRI; MRI patient care and safety; MRI physics; MR imaging of the head and neck; cross-sectional anatomy for medical imaging; advanced MR imaging techniques; MR imaging of the spine & musculoskeletal system; MR imaging of the abdomen and pelvis; and MR imaging of the thorax.

  • Location: Greenville, SC
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Nine months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-county ($318 per credit); out-of-county ($338 per credit); out-of-state ($518 per credit)

Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts

At GAMA, an MRI associate of science (AS) hybrid degree program is offered with didactic classes online and clinical rotations at the school’s Arizona campus in Phoenix and Orlando and Tampa campuses in Florida. Other locations for clinical rotations include Fresno, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Los Angeles, CA; Palm Springs, CA; and Riverside, CA. The program lasts 72 weeks, with five days of coursework each week (varying days Monday through Saturday).

Unlike many other MRI technologist programs, this particular one does not require that incoming students have a previous degree in radiology, which may be an attractive feature for those eager to start working in the MRI field. Two start dates are available each year.

The program comprises 115 credits including coursework in biology basics; essentials of anatomy and physiology; introduction to MRI; sectional anatomy; medical terminology; physical principles of MRI; MRI protocols and procedures; MRI pathology in diagnostic imaging; and computers in imaging and PACS, among others.

This program is recognized by ARRT and accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).

  • Location: San Mateo, CA
  • Accreditation: Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES);
  • Expected Time to Completion: 18 months
  • Estimated Tuition: $49,711

East Tennessee State University

At ETSU, students who hold an associate’s degree in radiography can earn a bachelor’s of science degree in radiologic science online. This 120-credit program accepts transfer credits and features courses such as allied health professionals; interprofessional allied health teams; clinical education; introduction to microbiology; research in allied health; leadership in allied health; radiographic pathology; and digital imaging in radiology technology.

This program is unique because it allows associate degree holders to transfer allied health professional course credits from a community college to count towards bachelor’s degree completion. To be eligible for this program, applicants must have a 2.5 GPA for transferable credit, transcripts proving two-year degree completion, and be licensed or eligible for professional licensure in radiologic science.

Additionally, ETSU offers an MRI certificate on-campus for registered radiologic technologists to advance their professional skills.

  • Location: Johnson City, TN
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: 24 to 48 months
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($441 per credit); out-of-state ($469 per credit)
School City State Website GRADS ('21)
Gurnick Academy of Medical Arts San Mateo California 69
MCPHS University Boston Massachusetts 16
Galveston College Galveston Texas 15
Gwinnett Technical College Lawrenceville Georgia 12
Chattanooga State Community College Chattanooga Tennessee 11
Greenville Technical College Greenville South Carolina 11
Southwest University at El Paso El Paso Texas 11
Truckee Meadows Community College Reno Nevada 9
Washburn University Topeka Kansas 5
AdventHealth University Orlando Florida 4
Colorado Mesa University Grand Junction Colorado 4
Allen College Waterloo Iowa 3
Grand Rapids Community College Grand Rapids Michigan 3
Mercy College of Ohio Toledo Ohio 2
St Luke's College Sioux City Iowa 2
Oregon Institute of Technology Klamath Falls Oregon 1
'20-'21 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in September, 2023)

MRI Technologist Core & Elective Courses

MRI technologist program curriculum varies depending on whether it is a degree or certificate program. Bachelor’s degree programs tend to have many more requirements, including non-medical general education requirements, included in the curriculum. However, for MRI certificate programs, the focus will be mainly on medical, science-related, and MRI-specific courses along with on-site clinical practicums. The courses seen across the spectrum of programs include such titles as:

  • Introduction to magnetic resonance imaging
  • Physical principles of magnetic resonance imaging
  • MRI pathology
  • Imaging procedures
  • Sectional anatomy
  • Clinical education

In shorter certificate programs (which can be completed in less than one year), electives are generally not a part of the curriculum. Instead, students can specialize or explore different work environments through their clinical experiences. Bachelor's degree programs will naturally have more elective flexibility. They will likely allow students to choose some elective courses outside of the allied health spectrum to complete their degree credits.

MRI Technologist Program Accreditation

To be eligible to sit for the ARRT certification exam upon completing a course, students must graduate from an ARRT-recognized program. The ARRT approval process includes a thorough assessment and application to the ARRT Board of Trustees, who reserves the right to follow up this application with an in-person verification process. Accreditation can take between six to 12 months to complete, and the AART provides a list of current approved programmatic and institutional accreditation organizations.

Programmatic Accreditation

The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) is an accrediting organization for MRI programs and other programs within the purview of radiology. The JRCERT accreditation process aims to ensure educational program excellence and requires all programs seeking accreditation to complete an MRI program self-study, a site visit, report of findings, and pay a fee. JRCERT is the only agency recognized by the US Department of Education for accrediting traditional and distance education programs in radiography and magnetic resonance and other similar disciplines.

In line with JRCERT standards of excellence, the ARRT recognizes MRI technologist programs for program quality and holds a list of approved accreditation organizations, including JRCERT. The organizations on the ARRT list of recognized accreditation entities include programmatic and institutional accrediting bodies.

Institutional Accreditation

Institutions of higher learning usually hold institutional accreditations as well. This level of accreditation may come from any number of nationally recognized agencies listed on the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website. Institutional accreditation is typically assigned by region:

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Career Outlook

As previously discussed, the career outlook for MRI technologists is promising. Between 2021 and 2031, the U.S. is expected to add 17,000 MRI technologist jobs, representing an overall growth rate of 6 percent (BLS 2021). Compared to the national rate growth rate for all occupations at 5 percent, MRI technologist careers are equally in demand.

As with other healthcare sectors, the demand for MRI technologists is expected to continue growing as the baby boomers population ages and requires more medical care. Older adults can be prone to breaks and fractures caused by osteoporosis, requiring proper MRI technology diagnosis. The BLS lists the top work environments for MRI technologists as follows:

  • Hospitals: 57 percent
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories: 18 percent
  • Physician’s offices: 13 percent
  • Outpatient imaging centers: 3 percent

Now that more Americans are insured under the Affordable Care Act, certified MRI technologists will need to provide diagnostics covered by expanding enrollment in insurance programs. States with larger populations will have a naturally higher demand for MRI techs, and in May 2022, the BLS showed the highest levels of employment were concentrated in the following states:

  • Florida: 3,900 MRI technologists employed
  • New York: 2,750
  • California: 2,710
  • Texas: 2,450
  • Illinois: 2,230

Finally, the BLS (May 2022) reported that the 39,270 MRI techs in the U.S. earned an average annual salary of $81,530 and the following percentiles:

United States
Number of professionals employed 38,380
Annual mean wage $81,530
10th percentile $60,530
25th percentile $67,770
50th percentile $80,090
75th percentile $93,360
90th percentile $104,850
Career Facts MRI Technologist
Related CareersDiagnostic Medical Sonographer, Cardiovascular Technologist, Nuclear Medicine Technologist, Radiation Therapist
Common Job TitlesLead MRI Technologist, Lead Technologist/Manager, MRI Specialist, MRI Supervisor, MRI Technologist, Senior Staff Technologist, Staff MRI Technologist, Staff Technologist
Technology & EquipmentMedical MRI Quality Assurance or Calibration Devices, Medical MRI Scanners, EMR Software, Medical Image Processing Software, Radiology Information Systems, Teleradiology Systems
Sourced from BLS, May 2019

Licensing & Certification for MRI Techs

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) offers certification and registration for those students who have completed MRI tech programs. To be eligible for the primary ARRT certification, students must complete an educational program approved by the ARRT, meet ethics requirements and pass the examination.

Once certified by the ARRT, MRI techs become Registered Technologists (RTs) and are required to complete continuing education courses every two years to maintain their status with ARRT. As of June 2023, all students applying for certification from ARRT must have earned an associate degree, baccalaureate degree, or a graduate degree from a program or institution on the ARRT-approved accreditation list. More information on registering for certification and continuing education is available on the ARRT website.

Certification is also available from the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT). The American College of Radiology (ACR) has recognized this certification as being on par with the ARRT certification since 2008 and acceptable for finding employment as an MRI tech.

While having a radiology license isn’t required by all states, more than 75 percent of states have licensing laws that require ARRT credentials to work legally. Other states may require their own licensing exams and credentials. Interested students should be sure to check with their school or with their local state authorities to determine the licensing requirements where they live and intend to work.

For up-to-date state-level licensing and MRI certification requirements, please visit the MRI tech certification guide.

Farheen Gani
Farheen Gani Writer

Farheen Gani has immense knowledge about medical technology schools, having researched topics such as medical billing and coding, health information management, nursing informatics, and biotechnology degree programs since 2018. She is a freelance writer, marketer, and researcher. She writes about healthcare, technology, education, and marketing. Her work has appeared on websites such as Tech in Asia and Foundr, as well as top SaaS blogs such as Zapier and InVision. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter (@FarheenGani).