MRI Careers: Job Description & Salary Info

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What are the pros and cons of a career in the field of MRI? Get real job descriptions and education requirements to see if a career in MRI technology is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of an MRI Career

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a medical diagnostic procedure used to create images of cross sections of a patient's body. Learn more about this occupation below:

MRI Technologist
Career OverviewMRI technologists conduct diagnostic imaging exams to help physicians determine illnesses and malformations
Education RequirementsAssociate's degree
Program Length2 years
Certification and LicensingLicensure or certification required in most states; voluntary certification available from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT)
Job Outlook for 2012-2022Faster-than-average job growth (24%)*
Mean Annual Salary (2013)$65,960*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

MRI Technologist

As an MRI technologist, you'll operate diagnostic equipment that utilizes radio frequencies and magnetic fields to map an image of a specific area of a patient's body. A physician can use this image to diagnose a medical problem. Along with maintaining and adjusting MRI equipment, you may take a patient's medical history, discuss the procedure with the patient and properly position the person so the MRI machine obtains an accurate image. MRI technologists also consult with radiologists to see if more images are needed, and they document the procedures performed and maintain patient records. Most MRI technologists work in hospitals, while others work in physicians' offices and medical laboratories.

Requirements

Most MRI technologists enter the field with associate's degrees in the discipline, but bachelor's degrees and postsecondary certificate programs in MRI technology are also available. An associate's program in MRI technology includes courses in human anatomy and physiology, MRI equipment, sectional anatomy, pathophysiology and physics. These programs also incorporate clinical practicums that provide you with hands-on training in MRI technology.

Depending on the state in which you work, you may be required to obtain licensure or certification in order to practice as an MRI technologist. This usually entails completion of an accredited postsecondary program and passage of an ARRT certification exam or an exam administered by the state board of health.

Below is a sample of what real employers were looking for in December 2012:

  • A Missouri diagnostic imaging center was seeking an MRI technologist with 2 years of experience who had completed an accredited radiologic technology program. Registration with ARRT or eligibility to register was required.
  • A medical center in California wanted to hire an MRI technologist with an associate's degree in radiologic technology, 3 years of MRI experience, ARRT certification and state radiologic technologist registration.
  • A New York medical center sought an MRI technologist with state licensure and ARRT certification in radiologic technology as well as 1 year of experience.

How to Stand Out

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you can increase your chances of landing a job if you become certified in several areas. The ARRT offers numerous certifications, and many employers emphasize the need for certification through this organization, even if it is not required by the state. You could, for example, obtain primary certification in magnetic resonance imaging, which requires completion of an accredited MRI program within the past 5 years and passage of an exam. You could also obtain credentials in areas like nuclear medicine technology, radiography, computed tomography and quality management. Certification must be renewed every 2 years by completing continuing education.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
      • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
      • MSHS in Molecular Diagnostic Sciences
      • MSHS in Translational Microbiology
  • Campus Locations:
    2. Virginia College

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Associate - Diagnostic Medical Sonography/Ultrasound
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Nursing
      • Master of Healthcare Admin
      • Master: Nursing/Nurse Administrator
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor: Health Science
      • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)
      • Bachelor: Healthcare Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Baker College Online

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Healthcare Management - MBA (Master's)
  • Campus and Online Programs
    6. Fortis College

    Program Options

    Certificate
      • Medical Assisting with Basic X-Ray Operation
      • Medical Office Basic X-ray Technician
      • Radiologic Technology
      • Surgical Technology
      • Sterile Processing Technician
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Regent University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • Penn Foster High School with Early College Courses
      • HS Diploma
      • HS Diploma with Focus in Health Care
  • Campus Locations:
    10. American National University

    Program Options

    Associate's
      • Surgical Technology - Associate

Featured Schools

The George Washington University

  • MSHS Medical Laboratory Sciences
  • MSHS in Immunohematology and Biotechnology
  • MSHS in Molecular Diagnostic Sciences

What is your highest level of education?

Virginia College

  • Associate - Diagnostic Medical Sonography/Ultrasound

What is your highest level of education completed?

Kaplan University

  • MS in Nursing
  • Master of Healthcare Admin
  • Bachelor: Health Science
  • Bachelors of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (RN License Required)

Which subject are you interested in?

Northcentral University

  • MS - Organizational Leadership: Health Care Administration

What is your highest level of education?

Baker College Online

  • Healthcare Management - MBA (Master's)

What is your highest level of education?

Fortis College

  • Medical Assisting with Basic X-Ray Operation
  • Medical Office Basic X-ray Technician
  • Radiologic Technology

Year of High School Graduation or GED completion:

Regent University

  • Doctor of Strategic Leadership - Healthcare Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Healthcare Management
  • Master of Business Administration - Healthcare Management

What is your highest level of education completed?

Colorado State University Global

  • Graduate Specialization - Healthcare Administration

What is your highest level of education?