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What Does a Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technician Do

Radiologic technologists, also known as radiographers, perform diagnostic imaging examinations, such as x rays, on patients. MRI technologists operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to create diagnostic images. 

Duties

Radiologic and MRI technologists typically do the following:

  • Adjust and maintain imaging equipment
  • Precisely follow orders from physicians on what areas of the body to image
  • Prepare patients for procedures, including taking a medical history and answering questions about the procedure
  • Protect the patient by shielding exposed areas that do not need to be imaged
  • Position the patient and the equipment in order to get the correct image
  • Operate the computerized equipment to take the images
  • Work with physicians to evaluate the images and to determine whether additional images need to be taken
  • Keep detailed patient records

Healthcare professionals use many types of equipment to diagnose patients. Radiologic technologists specialize in x-ray and computed tomography (CT) imaging. Some radiologic technologists prepare a mixture for the patient to drink that allows soft tissue to be viewed on the images that the radiologist reviews.

Radiologic technologists might also specialize in mammography. Mammographers use low-dose x-ray systems to produce images of the breast. Technologists may be certified in multiple specialties.

MRI technologists specialize in magnetic resonance imaging scanners. They inject patients with contrast dyes so that the images will show up on the scanner. The scanners use magnetic fields in combination with the contrast agent to produce images that a physician can use to diagnose medical problems.

Healthcare professionals who specialize in other diagnostic equipment include nuclear medicine technologists and diagnostic medical sonographers, and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists.

How To Become a Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technician

Radiologic technologists and MRI technologists typically need an associate’s degree. Many MRI technologists start out as radiologic technologists and specialize later in their career. Radiologic technologists must be licensed or certified in most states. Few states license MRI technologists. Employers typically require or prefer prospective technologists to be certified even if the state does not require it.

Education

An associate’s degree is the most common educational requirement for radiologic and MRI technologists. There also are postsecondary education programs that lead to graduate certificates or bachelor’s degrees. Education programs typically include both classroom study and clinical work. Coursework includes anatomy, pathology, patient care, radiation physics and protection, and image evaluation.

The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) accredits programs in radiography. Completing an accredited program is required for licensure in some states.

High school students who are interested in radiologic or MRI technology should take courses that focus on math and science, such as anatomy, biology, chemistry, physiology, and physics. 

Work Experience in a Related Occupation

MRI technologists typically have less than 5 years of work experience as radiologic technologists.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Radiologic technologists must be licensed or certified in most states. Few states license MRI technologists. Requirements vary by state.

To become licensed, technologists must usually graduate from an accredited program, and pass a certification exam from the state or obtain a certification from a certifying body. Certifications for radiologic technologists are available from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Certifications for MRI technologists are available from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and from the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT). For specific licensure requirements for radiologic technologists and MRI technologists, contact the state’s health board.

Employers typically require or prefer prospective technologists to be certified even if the state does not require it.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Radiologic and MRI technologists must follow exact instructions to get the images needed for diagnoses.

Interpersonal skills. Radiologic and MRI technologists work closely with patients who may be in extreme pain or mentally stressed. Technologists must be able to put the patient at ease to get usable images.

Math skills. Radiologic and MRI technologists may need to calculate and mix the right doses of chemicals used in imaging procedures.

Physical stamina. Radiologic and MRI technologists often work on their feet for long periods during their shift and they must be able to lift and move patients who need assistance.

Technical skills. Radiologic and MRI technologists must understand how to operate complex machinery.

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Average Salary
$59,864
Average Salary
Job Growth Rate
9%
Job Growth Rate
Job Openings
11,292
Job Openings

Average Salary for a Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technician

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technicians in America make an average salary of $59,864 per year or $29 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $72,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $49,000 per year.
Average Salary
$59,864

Recently Added Salaries

Job TitleCompanyascdescCompanyascdescStart DateascdescSalaryascdesc
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist
Katmai
Katmai
03/13/2021
03/13/2021
$63,75803/13/2021
$63,758
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist (MRI Tech)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist (MRI Tech)
Novant Health
Novant Health
10/22/2020
10/22/2020
$69,60110/22/2020
$69,601
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technician (MRI Tech)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technician (MRI Tech)
Novant Health
Novant Health
09/16/2020
09/16/2020
$54,82509/16/2020
$54,825
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist (MRI Tech)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist (MRI Tech)
Novant Health
Novant Health
08/29/2020
08/29/2020
$73,08708/29/2020
$73,087
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist-MRI)
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist-MRI)
University of Texas Medical Branch
University of Texas Medical Branch
07/18/2020
07/18/2020
$57,95607/18/2020
$57,956

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Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technician Demographics

Gender

male

53.7 %

female

40.1 %

unknown

6.2 %

Ethnicity

White

75.1 %

Asian

8.6 %

Hispanic or Latino

8.2 %

Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

37.5 %

Russian

25.0 %

Polish

12.5 %
See More Demographics

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technician Education

Degrees

Associate

38.4 %

Bachelors

27.8 %

Certificate

25.2 %

Top Colleges for Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technicians

1. Texas A&M University

College Station, TX • Public

In-State Tuition
$11,870
Enrollment
53,194

2. Siena Heights University

Adrian, MI • Private

In-State Tuition
$27,124
Enrollment
2,035

3. Duke University

Durham, NC • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,695
Enrollment
6,596

4. University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI • Public

In-State Tuition
$15,262
Enrollment
30,079

5. Yale University

New Haven, CT • Private

In-State Tuition
$53,430
Enrollment
5,963

6. Cornell University

Ithaca, NY • Private

In-State Tuition
$55,188
Enrollment
15,105

7. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, NC • Public

In-State Tuition
$8,987
Enrollment
18,946

8. Northwestern University

Evanston, IL • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,568
Enrollment
8,451

9. Georgetown University

Washington, DC • Private

In-State Tuition
$54,104
Enrollment
7,089

10. Vanderbilt University

Nashville, TN • Private

In-State Tuition
$49,816
Enrollment
6,840
See More Education Info
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Top Skills For a Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technician

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 32.3% of magnetic resonance imaging technicians listed patient care on their resume, but soft skills such as detail oriented and math skills are important as well.

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Top Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technician Employers

1. University of Utah
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$53,749
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technicians Hired: 
4+
2. University of Wisconsin-Madison
3.9
Avg. Salary: 
$31,809
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technicians Hired: 
4+
3. Advanced Medical
4.0
Avg. Salary: 
$100,627
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technicians Hired: 
3+
4. The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
4.7
Avg. Salary: 
$53,950
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technicians Hired: 
3+
5. AMERICAN RADIOLOGY SERV
4.5
Avg. Salary: 
$95,108
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technicians Hired: 
3+
6. IL Bone & Joint
4.2
Avg. Salary: 
$75,169
Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technicians Hired: 
2+

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technician Videos

Updated October 2, 2020