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MRI Assistant: Job Description & Career Requirements

Learn about the job responsibilities of an MRI assistant. Explore the skill and academic requirements as well as employment outlook and salary to decide if this is the right career choice. Learn about alternative career options.

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Career Definition for an MRI Assistant

MRI assistants are mainly responsible for administrative tasks, such as scheduling appointments, entering the results of radiological exams into databases and communicating with patients and family. They also have clinical duties, such as taking patients' medical history, escorting patients to the MRI department and positioning patients in the MRI scanner. MRI assistants are employed by hospitals and diagnostic imaging centers, where they work closely with MRI technologists and radiologists.

Required Education High school diploma or equivalent required for entry-level positions; completion of nursing attendant, medical assisting, or clinical coursework preferred by many employers
Job Skills Knowledge of MRI procedures and safety-issues, organization skills, communication skills, computer skills, multi-tasking
Median Salary (2015)* $30,590 (medical assistants)
Job Outlook (2014-2024)* 23% growth (medical assistants)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

To pursue a career as an MRI assistant, a high school diploma or equivalent is required. Courses in medical terminology and clinical and diagnostic procedures may also be required. Completion of a nursing attendant program, medical assisting program or clinical coursework in a radiology technician program is preferred by many employers. Alternatively, work experience in a healthcare setting can be sufficient training for some facilities. CPR certification may also be required by some employers.

Skills Required

MRI assistants must have a working knowledge of all MRI procedures and safety-related issues. They should be well-organized and possess strong communication skills, and computer literacy is a must. The ability to multi-task can also be helpful.

Career and Economic Outlook

The median annual salary of medical assistants, which include MRI assistants, was $30,590 in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Employment opportunities are expected to increase 23% between 2014 and 2024 for medical assistants, which is much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations.

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Alternative Careers

Here are some examples of alternative career options:

MRI Technologist

If a career with more responsibilities in using MRI equipment is desired, then becoming an MRI technologist may be a good option. These technologists perform many of the same duties as an MRI assistant, but they also capture internal images using computerized machines and work with doctors to make sure necessary information is contained in the pictures. To enter the field, an associate degree in MRI technology is required, and some states require licensure of imaging technologists. This usually involves completing specified education and passing an exam.

The BLS predicted 9% employment growth for MRI and radiologic technologists between 2014 and 2024. It also estimated that the median salary for an MRI tech was $58,120, based on 2015 statistics.

Nuclear Medicine Technologist

For those with an interest in working with medical imaging technology, a career in nuclear medicine is another possibility. Nuclear medicine technologists take computerized pictures of internal organs, tissues and other structures, but they first administer radioactive drugs that make abnormalities more visible in the images. They also monitor patient reaction to the drugs and record observations in detailed reports. Depending on the employer, an associate or bachelor's degree in nuclear medicine technology is required to gain employment, and licensure is required in some states. Professional certification is also available for career advancement.

According to BLS reports, a 2% increase in job opportunities for nuclear medicine technologists is projected from 2014-2024. In May of 2015, the BLS also estimated that these professionals earned a median wage of $73,360.

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