What Radiologic and MRI Technologists Do
Radiologic technologists perform diagnostic imaging examinations on patients. MRI technologists operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to create diagnostic images.
Radiologic and MRI technologists work in healthcare facilities, and more than half work in hospitals.
How to Become a Radiologic or MRI Technologist
Radiologic technologists and MRI technologists typically need an associate’s degree. Many MRI technologists start out as radiologic technologists and specialize later in their career. Radiologic technologists must be licensed or certified in most states. Few states license MRI technologists. Employers typically require or prefer prospective technologists to be certified even if the state does not require it.
The median annual wage for magnetic resonance imaging technologists was $73,410 in May 2019.
The median annual wage for radiologic technologists and technicians was $60,510 in May 2019.
Overall employment of radiologic and MRI technologists is projected to grow 7 percent from 2019 to 2029, faster than the average for all occupations. As the population grows older, there will be an increase in medical conditions that require imaging as a tool for making diagnoses.
Radiologic technologists, also known as radiographers, perform diagnostic imaging examinations, such as x rays, on patients. MRI technologists operate magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners to create diagnostic images.
Radiologic and MRI technologists typically do the following:
- Adjust and maintain imaging equipment
- Precisely follow orders from physicians on what areas of the body to image
- Prepare patients for procedures, including taking a medical history and answering questions about the procedure
- Protect the patient by shielding exposed areas that do not need to be imaged
- Position the patient and the equipment in order to get the correct image
- Operate the computerized equipment to take the images
- Work with physicians to evaluate the images and to determine whether additional images need to be taken
- Keep detailed patient records
Healthcare professionals use many types of equipment to diagnose patients. Radiologic technologists specialize in x-ray and computed tomography (CT) imaging. Some radiologic technologists prepare a mixture for the patient to drink that allows soft tissue to be viewed on the images that the radiologist reviews.
Radiologic technologists might also specialize in mammography. Mammographers use low-dose x-ray systems to produce images of the breast. Technologists may be certified in multiple specialties.
MRI technologists specialize in magnetic resonance imaging scanners. They inject patients with contrast dyes so that the images will show up on the scanner. The scanners use magnetic fields in combination with the contrast agent to produce images that a physician can use to diagnose medical problems.
Healthcare professionals who specialize in other diagnostic equipment include nuclear medicine technologists and diagnostic medical sonographers, and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists.
Magnetic resonance imaging technologists held about 38,700 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of magnetic resonance imaging technologists were as follows:
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||61%|
|Medical and diagnostic laboratories||18|
|Offices of physicians||14|
|Outpatient care centers||3|
Radiologic technologists and technicians held about 212,000 jobs in 2019. The largest employers of radiologic technologists and technicians were as follows:
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||60%|
|Offices of physicians||20|
|Outpatient care centers||7|
|Medical and diagnostic laboratories||7|
|Federal government, excluding postal service||3|
Radiologic and MRI technologists are often on their feet for long periods and may need to lift or turn patients who are disabled.
Injuries and Illnesses
Like other healthcare workers, radiologic and MRI technologists may be exposed to infectious diseases. In addition, because radiologic technologists work with imaging equipment that uses radiation, they must wear badges that measure radiation levels in the radiation area. Detailed records are kept on their cumulative lifetime dose. Although radiation hazards exist in this occupation, they are minimized by the use of protective lead aprons, gloves, and other shielding devices, and by badges that monitor exposure to radiation.
Most radiologic and MRI technologists work full time. Because imaging is sometimes needed in emergency situations, some technologists work evenings, weekends, or overnight.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of radiologic and MRI technologists.
For more information about radiologic and MRI technology, visit
For career videos on radiologic and MRI technologists, visit
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Radiologic and MRI Technologists,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/radiologic-technologists.htm (visited ).