MRI Assistant: Job Duties, Occupational Outlook, and Education Prerequisites

Explore the career requirements for MRI assistants. Get the facts about job duties, employment outlook, education requirements and licensing to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Cardiovascular Sonography degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What does a MRI Assistant Do?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) assistants, often called MRI technologists, work with patients to produce images that help doctors diagnose internal medical conditions or diseases. They often perform part of the patient diagnostic imaging exams themselves. MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and assistants use these scanners to create these images as part of the diagnostic process. It is important that individuals working with these machines are familiar with human anatomy, medical images, and office procedures. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Associate's degree, postsecondary certificate
Education Field of Study MRI technology, radiography
Key Responsibilities Prepare patients for and guide through imaging procedures; assess results and discuss with physician; follow radiation and other safety protocols
Licensure/Certification License and/or certification required in some states
Job Growth (2012-2022 ) 9%*
Average Salary (2013) $67,720*

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

What Would I Do as a MRI Assistant?

MRI is a diagnostic medical tool that provides images of the internal components of the body. MRI technologists serve in a clinical capacity, preparing patients for MRIs, conducting the procedures, and consulting with the doctor on results. These duties include operating sophisticated imaging equipment, injecting patients with contrast dyes prior to procedures, helping position patients, reviewing imaging results, following radiation safety rules and evaluating image quality.

What Is the Job Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employment of MRI technologists is expected to increase 9% from 2014 to 2024 (www.bls.gov). This is due in part to the need for more medical tests among an aging U.S. population, as well as the increased access to medical care created by recent federal healthcare legislation. As of May 2015, the average yearly salary for MRI technologists was $67,720.

What Education Do I Need?

As an MRI technologist, you would be required to complete formal training through programs that offer professional diplomas, associate's degrees or bachelor's degrees specifically in radiologic technology. Your level of training will impact the type of job opportunities, responsibilities and advancements that you would be eligible for, which varies with each employer. Coursework usually consists of classroom instruction in disciplines, such as physiology, pathology, anatomy, radiobiology and imaging principles. Also, clinical coursework is generally provided.

Will I Need a License or Certification?

Some states require that MRI technologists be licensed and/or certified. Requirements vary by state, so check with your state's health board for more information. Professional certification is available through trade organizations such as American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are a number of different areas of medicine that need skilled technicians and sonographers to assist physicians, such as cardiovascular medicine. These individuals are also often tasked with operating special machines to perform tests or create images to inform physician's decisions. Radiation therapists also treat diseases in patients by administering radiation treatments that are similar to many of the treatments with which a technician would be familiar. Regardless, most of the similar career paths are in the medical field.

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