What Does a Medical Imaging Engineer Do?

Mary McMahon

A medical imaging engineer designs, develops, and maintains equipment like magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and fluoroscopy machines. This represents a branch within the larger field of biomedical engineering, which focuses on the application of engineering principles to medical diagnosis, treatment, and care. The level of education and training required in this field can depend on the precise nature of the job, and some positions also require hands on experience.

Medical imaging engineers design, develop and maintain the equipment that enables the capture of internal images of the body.
Medical imaging engineers design, develop and maintain the equipment that enables the capture of internal images of the body.

One aspect of the work of a medical imaging engineer can be the design of new imaging technology, and improvement of existing systems. This can involve everything from improving image resolution by controlling interference within devices to working on the software used to render imaging data. Manufacturers of imaging equipment use engineers in their labs to work on a variety of projects and maintain reputations for producing innovative equipment and constantly refining existing inventions.

An MRI machine, which is used for medical imaging.
An MRI machine, which is used for medical imaging.

In the field, a medical imaging engineer may supervise the installation of equipment as well as maintenance and complex repairs. While some technicians can handle basic tasks, with large and complicated systems, an engineer may be necessary. The medical imaging engineer can also perform tasks like upgrading software and resolving problems with the software, like a failure to transmit images to the right place, or poor image quality caused by software errors. This can require travel, as it may be necessary to visit facilities to look at their equipment.

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The hours for this kind of work tend to be regular, although travel can make hours longer or more complex for a medical imaging engineer. In any given day, a variety of tasks may be part of the job, and it is often necessary to be flexible as well as good at solving problems to succeed in this career. Whether people are repairing existing equipment or developing new imaging technologies in a lab, they need to have a thorough understanding of how the equipment will be used and how it works in order to offer the best quality services.

Some biomedical engineering programs offer specialty training specifically in medical imaging. This can provide opportunities for in-depth learning and experience, and sometimes leads to connections through internships and job placement opportunities. A working medical imaging engineer may also choose to join a professional organization to network with other engineers and organizations, take advantage of continuing education, and have access to closed job listings that may not be widely publicized.

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