Medical Imaging Technician Degrees and Courses

Considering a career as a medical imaging technician? Learn about your education options for entering into the field.

What degree levels are available?

Many medical imaging technicians earn an associate’s degree, but that’s not the only option available.

You can also choose to earn a certificate or bachelor’s degree in the field.

Here’s a a breakdown of what to expect with each option:

  • Certificate or diploma: Certificate programs in medical imaging are typically available through community colleges or vocational schools, and can be completed in anywhere from six months to a year. It’s important to know that while a certificate in radiology will be enough to get you your license, certificates in sonography are usually intended for students with a health care background, like nurses.
  • Associate’s degree: The associate’s degree path is the most common for both radiologists and sonographers. This degree will take less time to complete than a bachelor’s program, but still qualifies you for licensure in either imaging concentration. Associate’s degrees are usually offered through community colleges.
  • Bachelor’s degree: Bachelor’s degrees are available from community colleges and four-year institutions. These degrees often include more in-depth medical instruction and general education requirements, like English and math. A higher degree may also help increase your salary. The biggest drawback is that a bachelor’s degree takes longer to earn which may not be ideal for those looking to enter the field quickly.

What will I learn in my courses?

Depending on what type of imaging you study, your courses will become more specialized as you advance in your program. However, general courses in a medical imaging tech program might include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Basic physics
  • Pathology
  • Medical terminology
  • Methods of patient care
  • Clinical hours in your specialization

It’s important to note also that as you advance in your program, more and more of your time will be spent in hands-on training and clinical practice.

How long will it take?

Every program is different, but you can use the following timeline as a guide:

  • Bachelor’s degrees can be achieved in about four years
  • Associate’s degree programs can be completed in about two years
  • Diplomas or certificates can be earned in about nine months

What accreditation is there for my program?

Enrolling in an accredited program is a must if you plan to become professionally certified. The accrediting body for your program will depend on what you specialize in.

For sonographic technician programs, the main accreditor is the Commission in Accreditation for Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP), which works in collaboration with the Joint Review Committee on Education in Diagnostic Medical Sonography (JRC-DMS).

For radiologic technician programs, accreditation for most programs comes from the Joint Review Committee in Radiologic Technology.

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