Southern Illinois University



Classroom lab work


What is Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a procedure that uses radio waves, a magnetic field, and a computer to produce images of the body tissues. It can be used to image many parts of the body, including the brain, optic nerves, brainstem, spine, heart, abdomen, pelvis, musculoskeletal (muscles and joints), and blood vessels.

What is Computed Tomography (CT)?

Computed tomography (CT) is a procedure that uses ionizing radiation and a computer to produce cross-sectional images of the body. It can be used to image many parts of the body, such as the brain, facial bones, neck, spine, chest, abdomen, and pelvis. This procedure also plays a vital role in diagnosing trauma patients.

How do I become a MRI or CT Technologist?

The Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Computed Tomography specialization is offered during the fourth year of the Radiologic Sciences bachelor's degree program. See course sequence.

This specialization emphasizes the physics, technology, instrumentation, sectional anatomy, and pathologies common in MRI and CT. Upon completion of the program the student will be prepared to challenge the national registry examinations offered by The American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. Technologists employed in these specialty areas will be supervised by a board certified radiologist, but will be afforded a greater amount of responsibility and independence in the performance of their duties.

What does a magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography technologist do?

A magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography technologist is a highly-skilled professional who uses specialized equipment (MRI unit or CT scanner) to create images of structures inside the human body that are used by physicians to make a medical diagnosis. MRI and CT technologists have extensive, direct patient contact and may inject the patient with a contrast agent that assists in visualizing various anatomical structures. They must be able to interact compassionately and effectively with people who range from healthy to critically ill.

What are the technical and physical aspects expected of MRI and CT technologists?

Prior to becoming a MRI technologist, one must be thoroughly screened for any contraindication that could be dangerous to that person by qualified personnel before being exposed to the static, gradient, or radiofrequency electromagnetic fields of the MRI system. MRI and CT technologists should be able to:

  • Lift more than 50 pounds routinely
  • Push and pull routinely
  • Bend and stoop routinely
  • Have full use of their extremities
  • Distinguish audible sounds
  • Adequately view MR and/or CT images
  • Interact compassionately and effectively with the sick or injured
  • Assist patients on and off patient couch
  • Communicate effectively with patients and other health care professionals
  • Organize and accurately perform the individual steps in a MRI procedure in the proper sequence
  • Perform venipuncture procedures

What are the career opportunities?

Magnetic resonance imaging and computed tomography technologists can choose to work in clinics, hospitals, out-patient facilities, and other medical settings performing examinations in their areas of specialization. Career advancement opportunities exist in education, administration, research, and medical imaging corporations. Salaries for MRI and CT technologists vary depending upon geographical location, but are competitive with technologists in the medical imaging areas.