Radiologic and MRI Technologists

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGieTgpDy0Y

Work Environment

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.

Pay

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.

Job Outlook

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.

Duties

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.

Work Schedules

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.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and Cardiovascular Technologists and Technicians, Including Vascular Technologists

Diagnostic medical sonographers and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists operate special imaging equipment to create images or to conduct tests.

Associate’s degree $68,750

Nuclear Medicine Technologists

Nuclear medicine technologists prepare radioactive drugs and administer them to patients for imaging or therapeutic purposes.

Associate’s degree $77,950

Radiation Therapists

Radiation therapists treat cancer and other diseases in patients by administering radiation treatments.

Associate’s degree $85,560

Veterinary technologists and technicians

Veterinary Technologists and Technicians

Veterinary technologists and technicians do medical tests that help diagnose animals’ injuries and illnesses.

Associate’s degree $35,320

For more information about radiologic and MRI technology, visit

American Society of Radiologic Technologists

Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology

American Registry of Radiologic Technologists

American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists

CareerOneStop

For career videos on radiologic and MRI technologists, visit

Radiologic Technologists

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists

O*NET

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists

Radiologic Technologists


Suggested citation:

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 ).