How to Become an MRI Technologist

How to Become an MRI Technologist: Career Path Guide

If you want to become an MRI technologist, you first need to determine if this career path is a good fit for you. If you can answer, “yes” to the following questions, then you’re probably well suited for a career as an MRI technologist:


•Do you have a natural interest in science and technology?

•Do you have empathy and patience when dealing with the ill or injured?

•Do you have a natural interest in helping people?

•Are you willing and able to work with your hands, and on your feet?

•Are you willing and able to work irregular hours?

•Are you interested in a fast-paced career in a health care environment?


Below we've outlined what you'll need to begin a career as an MRI technologist. We've also included helpful information for this career, such as job description, job duties, salary expectations, a list of possible employers and much more!



Education Needed to Become an MRI Technologist

To become an MRI Technologist, you need to complete a certificate or diploma program in Radiologic Technology or Magnetic Resonance. These programs are usually 1-2 years in duration, and provide prospective MRI technologists with hand-on training in a clinical setting. They also typically offer practicum opportunities for students as part of their curriculum. 




What is an MRI Technologist?

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologists utilize magnetic resonance imaging scanners to capture scientific images of the anatomical and/or physiological conditions of a patient's body. These images are ordered by a physician to assist with patient diagnosis. An MRI technologist must be able to closely follow the instructions of a physician as well as prepare and operate MRI equipment.



MRI Technologist Job Description

MRI technologists are responsible for performing scans using radio frequencies within a magnetic field to produce images of the bones, organs, and soft tissue of a patient in a hospital or a clinic. They also prepare and administer contrast agents to obtain some images. 



MRI Technologist Job Duties

• Follow specific operational procedures in order to ensure safety and accuracy of patients and other technologists

• Provide doctors with images of patient’s body to allow the doctor to make a proper diagnosis

• Properly position patients to capture the right image as prescribed by the doctor

• Explain procedure to patients

• Maintain patient records

• Monitor equipment functions

• Monitor patients while they are being scanned to ensure the image is properly captured



Who Creates Jobs for MRI Technologists?

Magnetic resonance technologists are typically employed in large, urban hospitals and clinics.



Certification Required to Become an MRI Technologist

Most Canadian provinces and American states require MRI technologists to be licensed. Requirements vary, but usually include graduation from an accredited program and passage of a knowledge exam. MRI technologists must pursue continuing education on a regular basis in order to maintain their credentials.


National certification for MRI technologists is available in Canada through the Canadian Association of Medical Radiation Technologists


National certification in the United States is available through the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists





Skills and Traits Needed to Become an MRI Technologist

In order to be effective in a career as an MRI Technologist, you need to posses a certain set of skills and personality traits. These skills and traits will not only allow you to perform your job duties with competence; they will allow you to overcome the challenges of this career.


•Patience and adaptability

•The ability to comfort people and put them at ease

•A sense of responsibility and personal accountability

•Awareness and sensitivity to the needs of the injured or ill

•An interest in science and technology

•Ability to remain calm and focused in stressful situations

•The ability to work well with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals

•Good health and stamina

•Able to closely follow the instructions of physicians



Career Advancement for MRI Technologists

MRI technologists typically begin their careers by shadowing experienced technologists for a period of time that is decided by their employer.


Once am MRI technologist gains experience and skill, they are able to work without the supervision of a mentor. As they become more skilled and experienced, they may have the opportunity to specialize in an area such as pediatrics, cardiac, neurological or intraoperative imaging, depending on what their interests are. Supervisory and management jobs are also open to experienced MRI Technologists.


With further education other opportunities for career advancement open up to MRI technologists. For example, MRI technologists may choose to go back to school to train as nurses or nuclear medicine technologists.



MRI Technologist Salary

The salary level of MRI Technologists can vary based on their individual qualifications and the specific responsibilities of their job. Salaries for MRI Technologists tend to be the highest in large metropolitan areas.


MRI Technologist Salary Alberta: According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the Medical Radiation Technologists occupational group earn an average of 38.22 per hour.


MRI Technologist Salary Canada: According to Service Canada, the average salary level of workers in the Medical Radiation Technologists occupational group is $49,234 per year.


MRI Technologist Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean salary level of workers in the Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists is $65,410 per year. 



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Work Conditions for MRI Technologists

Work Hours: The working hours for magnetic resonance imaging technologists can vary, typically depending on the needs and operating hours of the clinic or hospital in which they work. Some MRI technologists work normal, weekday working hours that may extend into evenings and weekends. Other MRI technologists work rotating shifts, which typically include working nights, weekends and holidays. MRI technologists may also be required to be on call.


Work Environment: MRI technologists work in a faced paced environment within a hospital or clinic. They are on their feet frequently throughout their shift, and are often required to engage in light or heavy lifting, such as when assisting patients from gurneys. MRI technologists can also face a great deal of stress at work from time to time; dealing with uncooperative patients or stressed out healthcare staff can be quite demanding. 



Careers Similar to MRI Technician

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to MRI Technologist, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Clinical Technician


Medical Laboratory Technologist

Orthopaedic Technician

Registered Nurse




Please consult the references below to find more information on the various aspects of a career as an MRI Technologist.


Occupations in Alberta:Magnetic Resonance Technologist.” (March 31, 2018). ALIS website - Alberta Learning Information Service. Retrieved January 4, 2020.

Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2018:Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists.” (March 29, 2019). Occupational Outlook Handbook - United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website. Retrieved January 4, 2020.

Programs:Magnetic Resonance Imaging.” (n.d.). The Michener Institute of Education at UHN website. Retrieved January 4, 2020.



Scholarships for Becoming an MRI Technologist

Scholarships in Canada and the United States listed for majors that apply to becoming an MRI Technologist can be found on our Physics Scholarships page.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Becoming an MRI Technologist: Applicable Majors

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point to becoming an MRI Technologist. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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