Radiologic and MRI technologists typically do the following:
Radiologic technologists are trained in the use of different types of medical diagnostic equipment. They may choose to specialize, such as in x-ray, mammography, or computed tomography (CT) imaging. Some radiologic technologists provide a mixture for the patient to drink that allows soft tissue to be viewed on the images that the radiologist reviews.
MRI technologists specialize in magnetic resonance imaging scanners. They inject patients with contrast media, such as a dye, 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.
For information about healthcare workers who specialize in other diagnostic equipment, see the profiles for nuclear medicine technologists and diagnostic medical sonographers, and cardiovascular technologists and technicians, including vascular technologists.
High school students who are interested in radiologic or MRI technology should take courses that focus on math and science, such as anatomy, biology, chemistry, and physics.
An associate’s degree is the education typically required for radiologic and MRI technologists. There also are postsecondary education programs that lead to graduate certificates or bachelor’s degrees. Education programs typically include both academic study and clinical work. Coursework includes anatomy, pathology, patient care, radiation physics and protection, and image evaluation.
The Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) accredits programs in radiography and magnetic resonance, and the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT) accredits MRI programs. Some states require candidates for licensure to complete an accredited program.
Most states require radiologic technologists to be licensed or certified. Few states require licensure for MRI technologists. Requirements vary by state.
To become licensed, technologists usually must graduate from an accredited program and either pass a certification exam from the state or obtain certification from a credentialing organization. Technologists may be certified in multiple specialties. Certifications for radiologic technologists are available from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). Certification for MRI technologists is available from the ARRT and from the American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT). For specific licensure requirements for radiologic technologists and MRI technologists, contact the state’s health board.
Employers typically require or prefer prospective technologists to be certified even if the state does not require it. Employers also may require or prefer that prospective technologists have certification in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or basic life support (BLS).