How to Become a
Radiologic and MRI Technologist
Best Education Tracks, Key Skills, and Top Certifications
The past year has shown us just how important health industry professionals are. Careers in health care are consistently growing, as new health-related technology is invented. One job that involves both tech and health is a radiologic and MRI technologist.
These professionals use modern instruments to record images of a patient that enable them to give an accurate diagnosis. Radiologic technologists receive a decent salary, and are in high demand in many countries. Keep reading If you’re thinking about becoming a radiologic and MRI technologist.
What Is a Radiologic and MRI Technologist?
A radiologic and MRI technologist, also known as a radiographer, is a health specialist who uses advanced equipment to take detailed photos of the organs inside a patient’s body. Radiographers can choose to specialize in areas such as ultrasound, mammography, or cardiovascular-interventional radiography.
What Type of School Should You Attend
to Become a Radiologic and MRI Technologist?
According to the American Society of Radiologic Technologists, to work as a professional in this area, you must have an associate degree as a minimum requirement. This degree is available at community colleges and some public universities in the United States.
Besides, you can get a bachelor’s degree at a traditional or online college. Any degree program is valid to enter the health industry as a professional.
Best Radiologic and MRI Technologist Education Tracks
Getting a formal education is an important step to becoming an MRI technologist. Since health care industry professionals are dealing with humans’ lives, they must have certain qualifications. So, before you start investing time and money into your studies, you should be certain that this career is for you.
If you believe you’ll excel as a radiologic and MRI technician, then you should check out some of the possible educational paths below.
A community college is a great place to start your path to becoming a radiographer. It typically takes two years to complete a certificate program and obtain an associate degree from a community college.
Many community colleges offer a specific program in radiologic science. These courses are popular because tuition at community college is cheaper than at a four-year university, and graduates can start working in just two years instead of four.
After you have a basic associate degree, you can either seek an entry-level position as a radiographer, or you can choose to attend a four-year university to get a bachelor’s degree.
Radiologic and MRI Technologist Degrees
If you want to learn more before starting your first radiographer job, you should get a bachelor’s degree from a four-year university. During this time, you will learn all about radiology techniques, and how to operate the high-end equipment required for the job.
As is common at universities, you will also most likely get the opportunity to complete an internship or two as you work toward your degree. One crucial advantage of a bachelor’s degree is that it will help your resume stand out, and will open you up to more job opportunities.
You also need to have a bachelor’s degree if you’re planning on getting a master’s degree or a doctoral degree. To get these degrees, you will need to choose a specific area of research within radiology. This level of degree is not necessary if you want to become a radiologic and MRI technologist, but it is required if you plan to teach or do further research in radiology.
How to Become a Radiologic and MRI Technologist: A Step-by-Step Guide
To start working as a radiologic technician, you need to have certain skills. Although you can choose how you want to get educated, you must make sure that the program you attend will leave you prepared for an entry-level job.
Below are the five steps you should follow if you want to become a radiographer.
Evaluate your options
Before beginning a new career, you should analyze how this career will benefit you. Check the job outlook and the possible salaries, plus the education options in your city and the corresponding prices.
Getting a proper education is essential if you want to become a radiographer. You will need to attend a community college or university to learn the tasks of a radiologic technologist. Make sure the program is accredited, as an unverified program would be a waste of your time.
After you finish your university or community college program, you must pass a test offered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) to receive your certification. If you don’t pass this test, you can’t work as a radiographer.
Look for work
Once you have your ARRT license, you can start looking for work as a radiographer at any qualified hospital, clinic, or radiography center in the US.
Choose an area of specialization
This step is optional. Many radiographers choose to specialize in one field, such as mammography, so that they can find a better job that offers higher pay.
Key Radiologic and MRI Technologist Skills
Radiologic and MRI technologists need to have a specific skillset to stand a chance of landing a job. Below are some of the most important radiologic technologist skills.
Radiographers should have a theoretical knowledge of general surgery. According to Zippia, 10 percent of radiologic technologists list surgical procedures as an important part of their job. While in surgery, the radiological technologist can verify that the surgeon’s actions match the diagnostic imaging.
Managing Radiological Equipment
You won’t be able to find a job as a radiologic and MRI technologist if you don’t have experience with advanced X-ray instruments. You must know how to use MRI, CT, and X-ray machines. You should know how to carry out imaging procedures, and how to administer radiation.
Conducting Fluoroscopic Procedures
MRI technologists who know fluoroscopic procedures will get better job opportunities. To carry out a fluoroscopic procedure, you will also need to know how to prepare and take X-ray images.
Radiologic and MRI Technologist Salary and Job Outlook
A report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that a radiologic and MRI technologist earns a salary of $63,710 on average. This will vary depending on the company you work for, your experience, and your specialization.
BLS also predicts that the number of positions available in this field will rise by seven percent by 2029, which is faster than average. Taking all of this into consideration, you can assess that 2021 is a good year to get into radiography.
Entry-Level Radiologic and MRI Technologist Job Requirements
To work as an entry-level radiographer, you will need to have an associate degree, which takes two years to acquire.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for an entry-level radiologic and MRI technologist is nearly $43,000. Remember that you must have the appropriate license that’s required by your state to work in this field.
What Does a Radiologic and MRI Technologist Do?
As a radiologic technologist, your tasks will vary depending on where you work. If you are attending a university to get your degree in radiology, you will most likely review the responsibilities of a radiologic and MRI technologist as part of your coursework.
Below, you will see some of the most common professional duties that come up in radiographer job descriptions.
As a radiographer, you will definitely be doing this task every day. You must know how to position patients in an MRI, CT, or X-ray machine in order to come up with the best quality images. To take the necessary images, you will need to follow designated procedures in order to guarantee that the process is carried out safely and correctly.
Analyzes Images and Makes Recommendations
After you have recorded the images, you must analyze them and explain the results to the patient. You will work with doctors and other specialists to determine the specifics of the injury or disease that is afflicting the patient.
Stores Data and Tracks Patient Progress
After you have delivered a diagnosis, you will need to give the patient further instructions. As a qualified radiologic technologist, you can prescribe medications, suggest treatments, or refer the patient to other medical specialists. It is your responsibility to monitor the patient’s progress until they have improved.
You must also store the images in a digital database so the patient can access them later if necessary.
Radiologic and MRI Technologist Certifications
To enter this career, you must have both a college degree and a license validating your expertise. If you don’t take this final step, you won’t be permitted to work in a hospital or X-ray center. Below are the two possible certifications that you can obtain.
American Registry of Radiologic Technologists
The ARRT is the most prominent radiographer organization in the US. It offers several types of licenses depending on your area of expertise. To get a certification from ARRT, you must have an associate degree and pass a test. The test consists of about 200 theoretical and technical questions.
You must get 75 percent of the questions right to pass the exam and get your certification. You can take the test three times.
American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologists
The American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists is part of the ARRT. If you pass this test, you’ll be certified as an MRI specialist.
How to Prepare for Your Radiologic and MRI Technologist Job Interview
After you have acquired your desired certification, the next step is to look for work. Once you find a job that piques your interest, you’ll have to prove your worth in an interview. Interviews are processes to evaluate your performance, your knowledge, and professional experience.
To help you ace your interview, we’ve compiled below a list of questions that you might be asked.
Radiologic and MRI Technologist Job Interview Practice Questions
- Why do you want to work as an imaging specialist at our health care facility?
- Can you explain the process for doing an MRI?
- How do X-rays work?
- What experiences do you have as a radiologic technologist?
- What is your process for making a diagnosis?
How Long Does It Take to Become a Radiologic and MRI Technologist?
The time it takes to become a professional radiologic technologist depends on which degree you obtain, and whether you want to pursue an area of specialization. To become an entry-level radiologic and MRI technologist, you will need to spend two years working toward your associate degree. Then, you must pass the ARRT test.
If you want to take it a step further, you will need to spend four years getting your bachelor’s degree from a university. If you want to get a master’s degree, you’ll need to dedicate an additional two years.
Should You Become a Radiologic and MRI Technologist in 2021?
Yes, you should. This career is a smart move, especially in this modern era, where you have the option to study from home and set your own schedule. Thanks to consistent growth in the health care industry, you can be confident that you’ll have many job opportunities once you’re certified to work as a radiologic and MRI technologist.
You won’t need to waste time after graduating to find your first job. This is a great year to start a new career in medical imaging.
Radiologic and MRI Technologist FAQ
Is working as a radiologic technologist dangerous?
Although radiologic technologists are exposed to radiation, the profession is safe. The equipment and tools used in the job are not harmful to the technologist or to their patients. Special uniforms and tools that measure radioactive levels are used to make sure everyone is safe.
How many people work as radiologic technologists?
According to the BLS, in 2019, there were about 270,000 radiologic and MRI technologists in the US.
Do I need to renew my ARRT certification?
Radiologic and MRI technologists must pay to renew their ARRT certification every two years. But don’t worry, you won’t be required to take the test again.
Does the ARRT certification allow me to work in every state in the country?
No, it does not. Each state has specific criteria for its radiologic and MRI technologists. Before you sign up for the ARRT test, you should check if there are any additional requirements or special licenses for your location.