How to Become an MRI Tech in California

If you have a keen interest in healthcare and advanced imaging technology, becoming an MRI tech can be a rewarding career choice. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) technicians play a crucial role in diagnosing and treating various medical conditions by operating MRI machines to produce detailed images of the human body. If you aspire to become an MRI tech in California, this article will guide you through the necessary steps to achieve your goal.

1. Research and understand the role: Start by researching the responsibilities and duties of an MRI tech. Understand the importance of patient safety, operating MRI machines, and interpreting the resulting images.

2. Obtain a high school diploma or equivalent: A high school diploma or GED is the minimum educational requirement for pursuing a career as an MRI tech.

3. Enroll in an accredited MRI program: Look for an accredited program offered by community colleges, technical schools, or vocational schools. Ensure that the program is approved by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

4. Complete the necessary coursework: The MRI program typically includes theoretical and practical courses covering anatomy, patient care, MRI physics, and imaging techniques. Hands-on clinical training is also a vital component of the program.

5. Clinical training: Gain practical experience by completing a certain number of hours in a clinical setting under the supervision of a licensed MRI technologist. This experience will allow you to apply your theoretical knowledge and develop essential skills.

6. Obtain CPR certification: Most MRI programs require students to hold a valid CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) certification. This certification ensures that you can respond effectively in emergency situations.

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7. Pass the ARRT exam: After completing your educational program, you need to pass the ARRT certification exam for MRI technologists. This exam assesses your knowledge and competence in the field.

8. Apply for state licensure: In California, you must obtain a Radiologic Technologist (RT) license from the CDPH to practice as an MRI tech. The application process involves submitting the necessary documents, paying the required fees, and meeting specific eligibility criteria.

9. Maintain certification and licensure: To remain a registered MRI technologist, you must fulfill the continuing education requirements set by the ARRT. Additionally, you must renew your CDPH RT license every two years.


1. How long does it take to become an MRI tech in California?
The duration varies, but it typically takes 1-2 years to complete an MRI program, followed by exam preparation and licensure.

2. Can I become an MRI tech with a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field?
Yes, you can. As long as you complete an accredited MRI program and meet all the necessary requirements, your prior degree does not restrict you from pursuing this career.

3. Are there any prerequisites for an MRI program?
Most programs require you to have completed courses in anatomy, physiology, and physics. Some also have specific GPA requirements.

4. Do I need to renew my ARRT certification?
Yes, you need to renew your ARRT certification every two years by completing continuing education credits.

5. Can I work as an MRI tech without a state license?
No, it is mandatory to obtain a Radiologic Technologist (RT) license from the CDPH to practice as an MRI tech in California.

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6. How much do MRI techs earn in California?
MRI techs in California earn an average annual salary of around $94,000, but it can vary depending on experience, location, and employer.

7. Can I specialize in a specific area of MRI?
Yes, after gaining experience, you can pursue advanced certifications or specialize in areas such as cardiac MRI, breast MRI, or musculoskeletal MRI.

8. Are there job opportunities for MRI techs in California?
Yes, the demand for MRI technologists is expected to grow due to advancements in medical technology and an aging population.

9. What skills are essential for an MRI tech?
Strong communication, critical thinking, technical proficiency, attention to detail, and the ability to work well under pressure are crucial skills for an MRI tech.

Becoming an MRI tech in California requires dedication, hard work, and a commitment to ongoing learning. By following the necessary steps and obtaining the required certification and licensure, you can embark on a fulfilling career in this rapidly evolving field.