What Is An MRI Technician?
MRI technicians, also commonly referred to as MRI technologists, are professionals who operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning machines. They use this technology to capture images of patient's bodies in order for physicians to diagnose medical problems. The table below offers some details on the career.
|Job Title||MRI technician|
|Education||Certificate or associate's degree|
|Median Salary (2018)*||$71,670|
|Job Outlook (2018-2028)*||11%|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
MRI Technician Job Description
MRI technicians are responsible for capturing images on MRI scanners that can help diagnose a patient. This process involves injecting patients with dyes that will work with the magnetic energy to contrast the images on the scanner's screen, making the organs and other internal body parts easier to see. MRI technicians will usually have to follow a physician's orders on which parts of the body to capture, as well as follow up with the physician to assess the images and determine if more images are needed.
In addition to operating the equipment, MRI technicians work closely with patients to make sure they are prepared and comfortable before and during a procedure. They usually perform these duties:
- Take a patient's medical history
- Answer a patient's questions
- Shield areas of the body that don't need to be examined
- Position patients for scanning
- Keep a patient's medical records
Most MRI technicians work in hospitals, but they can also work in medical laboratories, doctor's offices, and outpatient care centers. They are on their feet for long periods of time and may need to lift or move patients, especially those with physical disabilities.
MRI Technician Education Requirements
Becoming an MRI technician requires some formal postsecondary education. The most common options are certificates and associate's degrees. MRI technician certificate programs can last from 18-26 months. MRI technician associate's programs typically last 2 years and typically result in an Associate of Applied Science. Students in either program are required to complete a clinical internship. Internship hours will vary depending on the program, but associate's degrees usually require more hours than a certificate.
MRI technician programs teach students how to use MRI equipment, care for patients and perform examinations, and understand MRI images. They may also learn anatomy and physiology and take college-level general education courses. Many programs also prepare students to take certification exams upon graduation. Some MRI technicians pursue radiology programs either before or in addition to MRI programs.
MRI Technician License and Certification
It is usually not required for MRI technicians to have a license or certification, but many employers look for it in applications. Certification is offered through the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imagining Technologists (ARMRIT) and the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Both of these organizations require the passing of an exam.
ARMRIT certification accepts technologists with clinical experience in place of formal education. ARRT certification requires an associate's degree or higher. The degree doesn't have to be in MRI technology or any radiology related field, but candidates must complete an AART-approved educational program in MRI technology.