What Does an MRI Technician Do?
If you like helping people and want to learn how to operate complex equipment, a job as an MRI technician or MRI technologist is worth considering. Here’s what the job entails: An MRI technician operates a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner to create several cross-sectional images of a designated area of a patient’s body. These are combined to create a 3D image, which is used as a diagnostic tool.
The technician explains the procedure and places the patient in a specific position. For some scans, the technician administers a contrast dye intravenously to improve the quality of the image, which is used to see vascularity in masses or tumors.
MRI technicians spend a lot of time on their feet. They may work in hospitals, radiology centers or outpatient care centers. Evening, weekend and on-call work is often required.
- Consult with the radiologist
- Calibrate and adjust equipment for each image
- Communicate with patient to go over medical history and answer questions
- Make sure the patient gets into and maintains the right position using immobilization or support devices
- Prepare contrast agent and inject via IV
- Minimize radiation exposure to patient, self and other staff
- Monitor patient’s well-being during scan
- Evaluate MRI scan for quality
- Maintain imaging equipment
- Assist with clerical functions
Becoming an MRI technician or technologist requires some formal postsecondary education, including an associate degree and American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT) certification. MRI technician certificate programs can last from 18 to 26 months. Associate degree programs in applied science typically last two years. All students are required to complete a clinical internship of about 2,000 hours. Internship hours will vary by program, but the degree track typically requires more hours than the certificate track.
Students learn anatomy, MRI or radiation physics and physiology and take college-level general education courses. Many start out as radiologic technologists but develop specialization in MRIs.
Certified MRI technologists must maintain annual registration of their certification and fulfill 24 hours of continuing education courses every two years.
- Communicate well
- Have a knack for operating complex machinery and computers
- Are able lift or move patients
- Like working in a fast-paced environment
- Are detail-oriented