Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist

Chief Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist (Chief MRI Technologist)   More Names
Computed Tomography/Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist (CT/MRI Technologist), Imaging Technologist, Magnetic Resonance Imaging Coordinator (MRI Coordinator), Magnetic Resonance Imaging Director, Magnetic Resonance Imaging Quality Assurance Coordinator (MRI Quality Assurance Coordinator), Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist, Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists, Medical Imaging Director, MR Technologist, MRI Special Procedures Technologist (Magnetic Resonance Imaging Special Procedures Technologist), MRI Specialist (Magnetic Resonance Imaging Specialist), MRI Supervisor (Magnetic Resonance Imaging Supervisor), MRI Technologist, MRI Technologist (Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist), Staff Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologist (Staff MRI Technologist), Staff Technologist, Technologist
Description

Use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) equipment to produce multiple, cross-sectional, and three-dimensional images of human tissues, organs, bones, and vessels for use in diagnosing medical disease, injury, or condition. Require knowledge and skill in MRI procedures that produce these body images using extremely powerful main magnetic fields, radio waves, and gradient magnetic fields.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologists perform Magnetic Resonance Imaging exams as ordered by physicians and surgeons while working under the overall direction of radiologists or specialized reading physicians. They employ magnetic resonance imaging equipment which utilizes three forms of electro-magnetic fields to produce cross-sectional, three-dimensional images of the human body, including soft-tissue, bone, fibro-cartilage, the central nervous system, cardiac vessels, the bowel, fetal tissue and more, for use in the diagnosis of medical diseases, injuries, or other conditions. They are required to be knowledgeable and highly-skilled in MRI physics and instrumentation, clinical applications, MRI patient care, and biological-effects and safety during the patient procedures.

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologists are employed in hospitals, specialized imaging centers, urgent care clinics, and private physicians' offices. Some also work for the imaging centers of local, state, or federal government agencies.

Magnetic resonance imaging is one of several distinct areas of medical imaging practice that have emerged in recent decades. Other major imaging areas include nuclear medicine, sonography (i.e. ultrasound) and radiography (the oldest of the imaging areas). Magnetic resonance imaging relies on non-invasive imaging techniques that are based on the magnetic properties of sub-atomic nuclei rather than on ionizing radiation. This basic distinction separates magnetic resonance imaging from radiography as an imaging procedure.

MRI technologists are required to have special education, knowledge and skill in the use of magnetic resonance imaging as well as knowledge of human anatomy and physiology to safely and efficiently operate the MRI scanners that assist in the diagnosis of disease and injury. They must be able to correctly understand the referring physician's instructions and have the abilities and skills to make judgments about MRI pulse sequences and parameters, patient positioning, anatomic slice orientation, and appropriate direction for phase encoding. They also must be able to effectively use computer technology, and to work independently with skill and efficiency, when performing MRI procedures with patients.

Patient care responsibilities of the MRI technologist require knowledge of screening and sterile procedures, IV insertion techniques, administration of contrast media, and the ability to handle emergency procedures.

While magnetic resonance imaging does not use ionizing radiation, care still must be taken about what objects are permitted in the MRI environment, especially since the main magnetic field is so strong that it can attract and pull any metal that is in or outside of the patient's body. The MRI technologist is responsible at all times for the safe use of equipment, accessories, and procedures in order to minimize the risk to patients, themselves, and all others in the MRI environment.

MRI technologists use their communication, patient care, and medical team cooperative skills to interact both with patients and other members of the medical care team. An effective MRI technologist also serves as a patient advocate who displays reflective and responsible practice and has strong problem solving and technical skills.

The MRI technologist is at the upper end of the overall medical imaging career ladder, with a next step that may include supervisory responsibilities.

Credentials Needed: MRI technologists are required to be licensed in three states: New Mexico, Oregon and West Virginia. Other states may encourage magnetic resonance imaging technologists to be certified by one of two organizations: the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) or the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT). Additionally, most employers nationwide prefer to hire MRI technologists who are MRI certified by one of these two organizations. Since state licensure or certification requirements may change over time, a useful resource for checking the current status for MRI technologists as well as other imaging occupations is at the American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT)  - States with Licensure or Certification Laws. While requirements may vary by state or certifying organization, employers, typical applicants for must be at least 18 years of age, meet the educational and testing requirements set by the state or national certifying organization, and pass a criminal background check.

Basic information follows about MRI certification through the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT). Magnetic resonance imaging technologist is recognized as both a primary and post-primary career for certification by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). MRI technologist is a primary occupation for ARRT certification when an individual receives education and training specifically in this field, typically resulting in an associate's or bachelor's degree in magnetic resonance imaging. A number of MRI technologists, however, are initially trained and certified as a radiologic technologist, nuclear medicine technologist, or radiation therapist, and then afterwards receive training to add magnetic resonance imaging as an ARRT post-primary certification. (Note that a description of careers associated with each of these other imaging areas also is included on this website.) More details about MRI Technologist certification from the ARRT is provided under ARRT - Magnetic Resonance Imaging Certification and ARRT - Certification Handbooks.

Effective January 1, 2015, the ARRT eligibility requirement for primary pathway MRI Technologist certification will require candidates to have earned an associate or more advanced degree from an ARRT recognized accredited educational institution. This degree will not be required to be in the radiologic sciences, and can be earned before entering an MRI educational program or after graduation from the program. Further information on this degree requirement is provided at ARRT - Academic Degree Requirement (MRI Certification Primary Pathway).

MRI technologist certification from the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT) can be achieved using either a primary pathway or one of three other pathways. Under the primary pathway, a candidate can earn the MRI Technologist certification who graduates from an MRI technologist training program with at least one-thousand (1,000) hours of MRI clinical externship (visit: www.armrit.org) offered by a licensed school, and then passes the ARMRIT MRI Technologist certification exam.

Under a secondary pathway, a candidate can earn the MRI Technologist certification who cross-trains from a certified or licensed Allied Health career with documented MRI clinical experience of one-thousand (1,000) hours (approximately six months) and then passes the ARMRIT MRI Technologist certification exam. Under an equivalency pathway, a candidate can earn the MRI Technologist certification with a bachelor's degree and documented MRI clinical experience of seventeen hundred (1,700) hours (approximately one-year) and then passes the ARMRIT MRI Technologist certification exam. Finally, under an alternative equivalency pathway, a candidate can earn this certification who has not graduated from an MRI program or is not certified in an Allied Health career, but who can document MRI clinical experience of six-thousand seven-hundred and forty (6,740) hours (approximately four years) and then passes the ARMRIT MRI Technologist certification exam.

More information about the ARMRIT MRI Technologist certification is provided in ARMRIT - MRI Technologist Examination Candidate Handbook.

Some Key Things to Remember: Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologists use the resonant frequency properties of atoms within a magnetic field to image human tissues, organs, bones, and vessels for use in diagnosing medical disease, injury, or condition. They use their special knowledge and skill of MRI technology to produce non-invasive diagnostic images based on the magnetic properties of atoms instead of ionizing radiation, sound waves, or radio-isotopes, as are used in other principal imaging procedures.

MRI technologist is recognized as both a primary and post-primary career for training and certification, due in part to the shortage of MRI technologist training programs nationally. As a result, many MRI technologists come to this specialty career from other imaging occupations and via cross-training from diverse Allied Health fields. At present, only three states regulate the magnetic resonance imaging technologist career by requiring licensing or registration.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
10% - Average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $56,990 - $79,660    Hourly: $27 - $38
Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

MRI technologists must be in good physical health. They must be able to lift equipment, and, if working in a hospital, be able to move a patient from a stretcher to the MRI table. They sometimes will transport hospital beds to and from the MRI department. Such physical activity is required in both hospital and outpatient settings.

Legal Requirements
General/Nationwide
State-Specific
 
      

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

Associate's Degree (High School + 2 or more Years)
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Percent Job Growth:

10% - Average
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Typical Wages:

Annual: $56,990 - $79,660

Hourly: $27 - $38