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MRI Technician Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a MRI technician. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about schooling, job duties and licensing to find out if this is the career for you.

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technicians are required to have post-secondary training in radiologic technology and a certificate, diploma or associate's degree in MRI technology. In most states completion of an exam is required for licensing. This field is projected to experience excellent job growth through 2024.

Essential Information

MRI technicians operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners. MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields and radio frequencies to create 3D images of a patient's body tissues, which physicians then use as an aid to diagnosis. Individuals wishing to seek careers in the field can enroll in MRI technology certificate, diploma or associate's degree programs. Licensing is required by most states. Many MRI technology programs are open only to students who have been trained as radiologic technicians or technologists; these individuals often hold certification in radiologic technology.

Required Education Certificate, diploma or associate's degree in MRI technology; these programs are designed for individuals who have already completed training in radiologic technology
Certification and Licensing Certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) may be required; most states require MRI technicians to gain licensing by taking an exam administered by the state or ARRT
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 24% for diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists*
Mean Salary (2015) $63,630 for diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Job Description of MRI Technicians

MRI technicians perform diagnostic testing by taking images of patients' bodies using computerized MRI scanners. They generally work under the supervision of physicians and other medical personnel. MRI technicians can work in various clinical environments, such as hospitals, mobile radiographic units, diagnostic imaging centers or doctors' offices.

Job Duties

MRI technicians interpret a physician's instructions, explain MRI procedures to patients, select software options and imaging parameters when adjusting an MRI machine, view images from an imaging session and keep records of the results. They also maneuver examination equipment, prepare patients for procedures, move disabled patients from wheelchairs onto examination tables and position them for imaging.

Job Skills

MRI technicians need job skills, such as written and verbal communication, sensitivity to the physical and psychological needs of patients, attention to detail, the capacity to follow a physician's instructions and the ability to work with a team. They also need the stamina to stay on their feet throughout the workday, enough physical strength to maneuver patients and the manual dexterity to manipulate table straps and operate MRI machine controls.

Education Requirements

Applicants to MRI technician programs should typically be near completion or have completed education and training as radiologic technologists or technicians. Applicants may be required to have certification with the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT).

Trade schools, colleges and universities offer MRI technology programs at the diploma, certificate and associate's degree levels. MRI courses are likely to cover musculoskeletal anatomy and pathology, patient care and safety, imaging law and ethics, MRI physics, MRI instrumentation and MRI procedures. Programs will include a clinical education component that provides hands-on experience with patient care and MRI equipment.

Licensing

Requirements vary modestly, but most states require MRI technicians to be licensed. Licensure entails completing an accredited MRI technology program and passing either a state exam or the ARRT voluntary national certification examination. MRI technicians need to complete continuing education requirements to maintain ARRT certification.

With a projected 24% job growth through 2024, those who complete post-secondary training in radiologic technology, a certificate, diploma or associate's degree in MRI technology, and state licensing requirements will be prepared to pursue a career as an MRI technician in a fast-growing field.

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