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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.

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$ 48,000 - $ 102,000
$ 73,000
2,420+
MRI technicians prepare a patient for a scan
MRI technicians thrive in a fast-paced environment, working with patients to ensure their scans go smoothly and communicating constantly with other medical personnel. (Credit: VILevi/Shutterstock)
A Day In the Life
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Joseph Seibert, MRI tech ambassador, stands in front of an MRI machine
A Day In the Life

Joseph Seibert admits he "had no clue what I wanted to do" when he was a younger man, but one day of shadowing was all it took for him to know he'd found his career. 

He learned about medical imaging technology and observed techs at work at a local hospital.

"I was amazed with the whole process," says Joseph. "The patient interaction and the tech's ability to calm a person who was hurt and scared, having doctors and nursing staff all working together to treat someone, and watching the tech take great X-rays that helped decide these patients' futures."

"After one day, I knew I wanted to spend my life doing it."

Learn more about how Joseph got involved in MRI tech and transformed his career path.

Job Responsibilities
  • 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
Education + Training

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.

You May Be a Good Fit for This Position If You
  • 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

MRI Technician Training in Your Area

Coordinates
Rend Lake College logo

MRI Certificate

Rend Lake College
Ina (378.5 Miles)
Lone Star College System logo

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Advanced Technical Certificate

Lone Star College System
The Woodlands (477.1 Miles)
Austin Community College District logo

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Certificate

Austin Community College District
Austin (481.5 Miles)
South Suburban College logo

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Certificate

South Suburban College
South Holland (533.6 Miles)
St Philip's College logo

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Enhanced Skills Certificate

St Philip's College
San Antonio (553.4 Miles)
Southern Union State Community College logo

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Certificate

Southern Union State Community College
Wadley (634.6 Miles)
Lansing Community College logo

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technology, A.A.S.

Lansing Community College
Lansing (707.6 Miles)
Lansing Community College logo

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technology Certificate of Achievement

Lansing Community College
Lansing (707.6 Miles)
Mountain Empire Community College logo

Computed Tomography (SWCC)

Mountain Empire Community College
Big Stone Gap (714.6 Miles)
Athens Technical College logo

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Specialist Certificate

Athens Technical College
Athens (727.2 Miles)
Bay de Noc Community College logo

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologist, A.A.S.

Bay de Noc Community College
Escanaba (747.1 Miles)
Cleveland Community College logo

Computed Tomography and MRI Diploma

Cleveland Community College
Shelby (802.0 Miles)
Ask the Expert
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Neil Huber, MRI technologist, founder and CEO of Pulse Radiology Education
Ask the Expert

Neil Huber was an MRI technologist for nine years before he decided to jump into another side of the business — helping radiologic technologists more easily get the training they need to advance. He started Pulse Radiology Education with that goal in mind, and the company has educated hundreds of technologists since. For him, empathy and fast-focus are the skills that helped him and that help technologists reach the next level. Find out why he thinks this is a such a great job.

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