How to Become a MRI Technician

Overview

As the global population grows, so does the need for trained medical professionals. In addition to doctors, nurses, and other physicians, there is a great demand for ever-greater technology and people to work with it. Medical equipment is advancing by leaps and bounds, but so is its complexity. Technological advances in healthcare machinery means earlier and more correct diagnoses and treatments, but this machinery requires highly skilled operators to function at its full capacity. When even a small error could lead to missing a crucial element of a patient’s injury or illness or even endanger his or her life, medical equipment should only be operated by trained and educated experts. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technicians are among the most common and the most critical such professionals. With proper training and education in medicine and medical equipment, you could enter this growing and rewarding career to make a difference in the lives of countless people.

Job Duties

MRI technicians use a medical imaging system to depict blood vessels, soft tissue, and internal organs for the purpose of diagnostic and therapeutic medicine. In addition to preparing and properly operating MRI equipment, technicians are tasked with closely following physicians’ instructions for precise images, correctly positioning patients to ensure the highest quality image possible, recording the requested diagnostic images, and getting them to the physician as quickly as possible. Technicians need to be patient and understanding with patients as well; because the MRI process can take as long as 90 minutes, many patients become uncomfortable, restless, or even claustrophobic while inside the MRI machine. It is the technician’s duty to keep the patient calm and as still as possible so that the resulting scans are of the best possible quality.

Healthcare careers all come with unique risks associated with them, and MRI technicians are no different in this respect. Because they might face exposure to medical radiation, technicians must wear safety equipment such as aprons, gloves, and masks to prevent severe skin problems or long-term damage due to radioactive medicine.

The demand for professional MRI technicians is growing. As in any position in the medical field, technicians often work long hours; however, they also generally earn a yearly salary which is higher than the national average, making this both a personally fulfilling and financially rewarding career option.

Job Outlook

MRI technicians are most often employed in diagnostic imaging centers and hospitals, though actual employment depends on need in a given area, state regulations, and individual education and experience.

Salary Prospects

As of June 2012, the average salary for MRI technicians was around $63,000 (indeed.com). As always, this number depends heavily on place of employment, and an employee’s education and experience.

Educational Requirements

At a minimum, technicians must hold either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in radiology from a community college or vocational skill accredited by the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARRT). Students should try to study at the most reputable ARRT-approved medical institute possible, as doing so will greatly improve employment prospects after graduation.

If a campus-based education is out of the question, students can also opt for an online radiology technology degree.

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