Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is typically a medical imaging technique used by medical radiologists to see the internal parts of the body. In some ways, it is similar to X-ray imaging. MRI technicians are in demand in almost all areas and typically work in a hospital, a doctor’s office, or small clinic. It is a relatively new technology, as MRI was first used on humans in 1977. Becoming an MRI technician generally requires an education in healthcare, health science, or medical assisting from an accredited college.

MRI Technician Training and Career 411

mritechnicianschools-8370547Where you work and the size of market you work in, does determine how much you’re paid as a MRI technician. Those working at large hospitals in urban areas command a higher salary than those working at a doctor’s office in a rural area.

Starting out, MRI technicians earn roughly between $30,000 to $35,000 per year. After several years on the job, a MRI technician can earn about $60,000 per year. This is a technology-driven career that requires you to be quick and knowledgeable with computers and imaging machinery. These skills are taught at accredited MRI technician programs.

Most programs take about 18-24 months to complete, and there are many online MRI technician programs. You can also enroll in a radiology program with an emphasis on MRIs. This will gain you a certificate upon completion and may also give you an associates degree. From here, some will pursue their Bachelor of Science in radiology, which dramatically increases your earning potential and job opportunities. An MRI program may be referred to as a certificate for MRI technician or technologist. The words are interchangeable in the medical field and both refer to someone assisting a medical professional, but unable to make a diagnosis on a patient.

MRI Technician Schools – The Basics

You will have to complete a round of clinicals to become a MRI. This gives you an idea of what to expect once you’re on the job and provides work experience that looks good on your resume for potential employers. It is best to look for an MRI technician program that organizes and sets up your clinicals for you. Some programs may work with local doctors or hospitals in the area for students to complete clinicals. In other cases, you will have to find a doctor or hospital on your own. This can be difficult without job experience. Keep clinicals in mind when researching MRI technician programs.

In most states, practicing MRI technicians register with the American Registry of Radiologic Technicians (A.R.R.T). Every two years, you must get your license renewed by the A.R.R.T. by attending continuing education courses. Continuing education courses intended for renewing a license is regular practice in the medical field and completed by everyone from heart surgeons to dental assistants.

Your physical fitness comes into play as a MRI technician. You are standing most of the day and may have to aide disabled patients to get the most accurate image that will help doctors diagnose a patient or track their progress. If a patient is unable to leave their bed to have a MRI, a technician must come to them to take images. This may result in lifting or moving a patient, so physical strength is important. Before taking on a position, your potential employer should explain to you the daily duties required and may ask you to undergo a physical to ensure you’re fit for the job. Some may worry about their health when working with imaging all day. Remember that you’re trained to know the radiation levels of machines and wear protective gear to shield you from any harmful rays. You must practice patience and kindness with patients, as many are uneducated on medical radiology and may be fearful for their health when having a procedure done.

MRI Technician Career Opportunities

MRI technicians work in a variety of settings with varying levels of responsibility. In some cases, you may work at a doctor’s office and a clinic and regularly make the rounds to different offices. You will most likely be designated certain days at one place. These places may be owned by one group (such as a private practice doctor having multiple offices) or different employers all together.

If there is not a full-time position available at one office, you may take on two different MRI technician jobs to get a full week’s worth of hours in. This is the norm among medical technicians and assistants such as ultrasound techs and dental assistants. Depending on where you live and where your interest lie, you can expect to find employment in the following industries:


Many hospitals employ MRI technicians. In this position, you will see patients every day and have the luxury of working with many other medical staff you can go to for emotional and career support. This is often a very fast-paced environment where you’ll work under a head technician or report to a doctor. Within the past few years over half of MRI technicians have been employed by hospitals and the majority of jobs opportunities for MRI technicians continue to be there.


A MRI tech may be employed by a clinic that specializes in MRIs. In this case, this clinic may be referred to as an imaging or MRI center and patients are referred to this place by their doctor. The results are then sent back to the doctor for the patient’s diagnosis. Sometimes other imaging specialists such as ultrasound technicians will work in the same building. There are often imagine centers in cities with large populations, where hospitals are overwhelmed with the number of patients coming in for MRIs.

Doctor’s Office

A doctor, such a neurologist, might have one or a few MRI technicians on staff for regularly taking images of patients. You will typically report to a head MRI technician or the doctor themselves. These positions are less plentiful than working in a hospital or clinic because most doctors have small practices and staffs. After working at a hospital or clinic and developing a relationship with a doctor, you may end up landing a job with him or her should they open a private practice.

Find an online MRI technician school

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