M.R.I. Technology Career Video: Becoming a MRI Technician

M.R.I. Technology Career Video: Becoming a MRI Technician Transcript

MRI technicians provide doctors with a clear look at the internal organs and structure of a patient's body. They do this with the help of specialized medical diagnostics equipment. MRI exams use strong magnetic fields to generate images that can be used to diagnose illnesses, injuries and diseases. In most cases, an associate's degree in Radiologic Technology and an additional professional license are required to become an MRI technician.


Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology is used to create accurate images of the structure of the human body. Doctors order MRI scans to help them diagnose illnesses and injuries. MRI technicians operate the computer equipment and medical hardware that generates these images. They also help patients to understand the procedure and make the experience as stress-free as possible. An associate's degree in Radiologic Technology and a professional license are required for most entry-level positions.

Job Skills and Duties

Magnetic resonance imaging uses strong magnetic fields to cause the protons in the human body to oscillate in such a way that their movement can be detected and recorded. Soft tissues, like ligaments, muscles, the heart and other organs and blood vessels are visible on MRI scans. The images created by an MRI can help doctors diagnose a variety of illnesses and injuries.

MRI technicians operate the equipment used in magnetic resonance imaging exams. They prepare the apparatus, check it for defects and calibrate it before an exam. During the exam, they monitor the equipment, ensuring that the image generated is clear and readable. After the exam is complete they report the results to a physician.

They may also assist patients in entering and exiting the testing area. MRI exams can be stressful on patients, especially those who suffer from claustrophobia, due to the enclosed nature of the testing equipment. It is the duty of the technician to calm patients and also communicate with them in order to maximize the chances for a useable image.

Training Required

Many community colleges offer an associate's degree in Radiologic Technology. Some hospitals and vocational schools may offer non-degree career training, but these programs are far less common. An associate's degree program includes coursework in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology, the principles of imaging technology, medical ethics and more. Students will also learn how to use the computer hardware and software technology commonly used by MRI technicians. Since most techs work around powerful magnetic fields and radioactive elements, programs typically include courses on safety and how professionals can prevent unnecessary exposure and risks.

There are currently 40 states that require MRI technicians to possess a separate state license in addition to professional career training. These licenses demand completion of a written or practical skills test in addition to an associate's degree from an accredited program. Most states use an exam administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technicians (AART). The AART also offers voluntary certification for professionals who work in states that do not require a license. The license or certification must be renewed every two years by completing 24 hours of continuing education credits.

Career Options

Virtually all MRI technicians are employed by the radiology department of hospitals and larger private clinics. Opportunities do exist for advancement to managerial or supervisory positions, but a bachelor's or master's degree may be needed. Most hospitals have an MRI technician available at all hours in order to provide immediate care. Because of this, some MRI technicians employed by larger hospitals may have the option of working a flexible schedule, including part-time, swing shift and night work.

MRI technicians may also use their skills to work as medical equipment technicians, providing training, repair, and installation services to hospitals and clinics with MRI units. These types of positions often require travel and an additional professional license. MRI technicians may also work as X-ray technicians, nuclear medical technicians and in other radiologic and imaging positions with additional training.



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