What is an MRI Technologist?

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  • Written By: Cassie L. Damewood
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 29 March 2019
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A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technologist creates three-dimensional (3D) images of human body tissues on a computerized MRI scanner utilizing magnetic fields and radio frequencies. He normally works under the supervision of doctors or other authorized medical personnel. His work is typically performed in hospitals, clinics or physician offices or at diagnostic imaging centers. Some in this profession provide services from a mobile radiographic unit that can travel to remote areas to provide MRI examinations.

To proficiently perform this job, an MRI technologist is generally required to be familiar with MRI technology and the equipment used to apply it. He is commonly expected to know which software applies to each task and how to maneuver the equipment to produce the clearest images. If a patient is physically disabled, the technologist is customarily required to move the patient from a gurney or wheelchair to the MRI machine and properly position the person to record the images.

A person with this job interacts with both physicians and patients. The physician normally provides him with detailed instructions on what is needed in the images to help make an accurate diagnosis. The MRI technologist typically records the results of the procedure and presents them to the doctor. He is expected to have the knowledge to explain any anomalies in the results caused by patient movement or machine malfunctions.


The technologist’s relationships with patients is important as this procedure frequently creates anxiety in patients who are claustrophobic. Since the patient’s body is enclosed in a large metal tube prior to imaging, the technologist is typically expected to ease fears and encourage compliance in a gentle, supportive manner. If the patient moves during the process, the MRI may have to be repeated.

Patience and an upbeat attitude are normally considered assets for an MRI technologist. The patients with whom he interacts are often in the middle of lengthy diagnostic processes and uneasy about their conditions and prognoses. Having a friendly, supportive professional provide care frequently makes the MRI experience less stressful for these patients.

Becoming an MRI technologist requires special education and training and frequently requires certification or licensing. Before applying to an MRI program, completion of radiologic technology degree program is generally required. Depending on the institution, an associate’s degree or accredited diploma or certificate in MRI technology is generally required to apply for this position. Work experience in a health care environment, such as a hospital or clinic, is considered a plus for applicants for this job as well.



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