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Job Spotlight: All About MRI Technologists

MRI Technologist Spotlight

All About MRI Technologists

By Lee Soren, contributor

For tech-savvy professionals looking to enter the field of allied healthcare, one exciting career path is MRI technology. The Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates job growth for MRI technologists to be around 9% through 2028, which is nearly double the rate of the overall occupational average. For experienced technologists and those just entering the field, that means job security and plenty of opportunities for career growth.

Keep reading for an overview of what MRI technologists do, their average salary and the requirements you'll need to fulfill to become a professional in this exciting technology-based imaging field.

What does an MRI technologist do?

A magnetic resonance imaging technologist performs patient scans using an MRI machine to assist physicians in the diagnosis and treatment of certain diseases and disorders. Specific job responsibilities for MRI technologists may include:

  • Working closely with radiologists as part of a patient's complete medical team
  • Collecting medical information from patients, families and physicians
  • Inputting scan parameters and patient history into the computer system
  • Explaining the procedure, positioning the patient and identifying potential safety risks such as pacemakers and prosthetic heart valves
  • Monitoring patient safety and comfort throughout the scan and providing support to anxious patients
  • Administering intravenous contrast dye
  • Executing the appropriate imaging techniques
  • Ensuring the quality of the scans
  • Maintaining imaging equipment

What education and certifications are required to become an MRI technologist?

The most common educational path to becoming an MRI technologist is through an associate's degree in radiologic technology, although some students may opt for a bachelor's degree. Regardless, individuals should complete coursework in anatomy, pathology, image evaluation, patient care and the physics of radiation. Although there is formal magnetic resonance imaging training available, most technologists specialize in MRI technology while on the job.

The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists offers specialty certification for professionals in this field. ARRT certification requires candidates to hold an associate's degree or higher, have completed an ARRT-approved educational course in MRI technology, meet an ethics requirement and pass an examination. Although certification is voluntary, it may be required to get a license in some states.

To maintain AART certification, it must be renewed annually, and certified MRI technologists must engage in 24 hours of continuing education every two years. That can include classroom courses, self-study, online learning opportunities and professional lectures. Continuing education can be particularly important in a tech-based field such as MRI technology because advances in equipment and techniques occur regularly and can significantly impact everyday job responsibilities.

Additionally, continuing qualifications requirements must be completed every 10 years to maintain credentials. These CQRs were put in place by AART to identify and remedy gaps in skills and knowledge and ensure that technologists meet the minimum requirements for competency in the field.

What is the salary range for an MRI technologist?

According to U.S. News & World Report, the median salary for an MRI technologist is $71,670, which is slightly less than $30 per hour. Pay increases with experience and is likely to vary by region and facility. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that outpatient centers are generally the highest-paying employers of MRI technologists, and physicians' offices tend to fall at the lower range of salaries.

Travel MRI technologists can expect a higher salary than traditional full-time employees, averaging about $35 to $40 hourly, although travel rates can also vary based on location, seasonality and the type of facility. Allied health professionals who travel should also factor in benefits, such as housing stipends and travel reimbursement, when considering salary.

Where does an MRI technologist work?

Although many MRI technologists work in a hospital setting, jobs are also available in outpatient facilities, diagnostic laboratories and physicians' offices. The federal government also employs MRI technologists. It's important to note that many MRIs are performed on an emergency basis, so technologists may be required to work evenings, weekends and holidays.

Is MRI technology right for you?

This challenging allied health career is ideal for outgoing, detail-oriented individuals who enjoy working with patients and technology. If you're an MRI technologist looking to enter the exciting world of travel healthcare, search for your next assignment through Med Travelers' extensive database of jobs.

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