Magnetic resonance imaging (or MRI for short) technicians are trained in operating radiology imaging equipment, which doctors use to make diagnoses. An associate's degree is required to work in this field, and licensure is required in some states.
Magnetic resonance imaging technicians (or technologists) are a part of the radiology imaging team. They operate MRI machines to create images that doctors can diagnose illness and injury from. MRI technologists generally have an associate's degree. In addition, MRI technologists may need to be licensed in some states and can take a certification exam.
|Required Education||Associate's degree|
|Other Requirements||State licensure or certification sometimes required|
|Projected Job Growth*||10% between 2014 and 2024|
|Average Salary (2015)*||$68,340|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
MRI Technologist Salary Information
As of May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) listed the average annual salary for a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologist at $68,340. The three metropolitan areas offering the highest wages for this position at that time were Sacramento, Oakland, and San Jose. The industry involving company or enterprise management paid the highest average wages for MRI technologists in 2015, according to the BLS, though only a very small number of MRI techs worked in that industry.
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The medical community considers magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to be a newer field of medical diagnostic science since the first MRI image was produced in 1974. Since its introduction, MRI has become many physicians' preferred method of early detection for disease. These images are a tool providing more precise images of human tissue and organs than X-rays can.
An additional benefit of MRI technology is that patients are exposed to lower radiation levels. This is also a benefit for MRI technologists. Their work does not expose them to the amount of radiation encountered by their technician colleagues, who work with imaging equipment like X-rays, CAT and PET scanners.
MRI technologists explain procedures to patients, prepare them for testing and ensure that the patients are comfortable during the procedure. The technologist processes the images and transfers them onto film for the radiologist and physician to review. Technologists develop a working knowledge of the equipment, including how the patient should be positioned in order to get the best diagnostic images. In pediatric cases, the technologist often works closely with an anesthesiologist, since the majority of small children must be sedated for the MRI procedure.
A registered MRI technologist most frequently works in hospital environments; jobs for MRI technologists are also available in private practices and government facilities. The military, for example, has embraced MRI technology and employs many technologists. The majority of technologists gravitate toward the private sector, however.
Certification and Registration
While neither certification nor registration is required on an entry level, technologists will find greater opportunities for employment and advancement once they have completed both. Certification examinations are offered through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Once this step has been completed, the technologist is registered with the organization. Technologists must renew their registration on an annual basis, and continuing education courses are required prior to renewal.
Working as a MRI technician or technologist is a great profession for someone who is interested in healthcare and technology. According to the BLS, there is a faster-than-average job growth of 10% expected for this occupation in 2014-2024. Wages vary based on location, but the national average in 2015 was over $68,000.