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A True Compare and Contrast: Radiology Tech vs MRI Tech

Radiology techs and MRI techs are often grouped together. They’re even on the same page of the Bureau of Labor Statistics website! Medical techs are vital in the diagnostic process as well as helping doctors be confident in delivering news to patients and creating treatment plans. Radiology techs and MRI techs, specifically, are two of the most important technologist positions. Although these two medical careers are similar, there are several key differences between them. These differences range from responsibilities, education requirements, and daily tasks. We’ve outlined how these Radiology tech vs MRI tech careers differentiate as well as their similarities. While you may find one career more interesting than the other, remember that both are vital to the medical field!

Radiology Tech Responsibilities

Radiology Techs are primarily responsible for performing diagnostic imaging examinations. These can include x-rays, sound waves, and other imaging tools to create images of patients’ internal organs, bones, or tissue. These techs use the images to help doctors diagnose patients. They maintain and operate imaging equipment and help prepare patients for imaging procedures. Radiology techs are experts in x-ray technology and are usually well-versed in CT scans as well. They not only take x-rays but can also specialize in mammograms, sonograms, bone density tests, etc. Radiology techs take the images and also help analyze them. They assist physicians in the diagnostic process and give advice about further treatment when needed.

MRI Tech Responsibilities

Whereas Radiology techs perform different diagnostic imaging exams, MRI Techs primarily focus on Magnetic Resonance Imaging. This imaging, or MRI, displays the anatomic and physiologic bodily conditions. Not only do MRI techs perform the actual imaging process, but they are also responsible for explaining the process to patients and making them feel more at ease. They both mentally and physically prepare patients and operate the equipment. Techs position the patients properly for the MRI, because if they are not positioned properly then the scan will not be successful. They then, similarly to Radiology techs, consult with physicians about the images and subsequent diagnosis and treatment. A big part of an MRI tech’s job is to show sensitivity to patients. MRIs and other imaging tests can be scary for patients. MRI techs make patients feel comfortable and confident before the scan takes place.

Radiology Tech Education

In order to become a Radiology tech, you need to have completed an accredited radiologic technology program. It’s very easy to find these programs, but they absolutely need to be accredited. You can either earn an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in order to qualify for entry to a program. Each program is different and earning a bachelor’s degree as opposed to an associate degree does not necessarily make you a more viable candidate for a Radiology tech program. However, it might make a candidate more competitive in the job market. You can find a list of accredited programs as sites such as

MRI Tech Education

One way to become an MRI tech is to begin training as a Radiology tech and then specialize in MRI. This is the traditional route that many MRI techs take. However, it is not the only way to train to become an MRI tech. Many MRI techs are training exclusively as MRI techs without training as Radiology techs first, which is a key difference between Radiology tech vs MRI tech education. Like Radiology tech programs, it’s important to choose a program that is accredited. These programs combine classroom learning with hands-on learning. You will train with actual equipment and may even go on clinical rotations!

Radiology Tech vs MRI Tech Similarities

Both techs have the same primary responsibilities but use different equipment. They both operate equipment and ready patients for tests. Radiology techs and MRI techs are also totally devoted to patient safety and ensure that tests run smoothly. They keep detailed patient records and assist physicians with diagnoses. Radiology techs vs MRI techs are similar in theory, but distinct. They are both integral parts of medical practice.