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How to Become a Medical Imaging Assistant
Medical imaging assistants support imaging technicians using X-rays, computer tomography, or CT, and magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, techniques and equipment. They usually work in busy work settings like medical imaging departments. Requirements for employment as a medical imaging assistant can vary by employer and state.
Career Path and Educational Requirements
The job requirements for this position usually include work experience in a medical setting; nursing assistants and general medical assistants may advance to medical imaging assistant jobs. Medical imaging assistants typically advance to medical imaging technologist positions. A high school diploma or GED is the minimum educational requirement for medical imaging assistants, but certification in medical imaging and CPR may also be required for employment.
Recommended coursework for medical imaging technologist jobs includes anatomy and physiology, biology, chemistry, medical terminology and physics. Students also gain clinical experience through degree and certification programs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, advises high school students planning careers in medical imaging to concentrate their studies in math and science.
Employment Venues and Job Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) tracks data and makes projections for all civilian occupations. There is no specific breakdown for medical imaging assistants, but there are figures for Radiologic and MRI technologists. Job growth is expected to be 13 percent through 2026, a rate faster than average compared with all other jobs.
The BLS reports that approximately 59 percent of medical imaging technologists work in hospitals, though physicians' offices and outpatient imaging centers also hire medical imaging assistants. Although figures are not provided for imaging assistants, job growth expectations for medical imaging technologists suggest that demand for medical imaging assistants will also exceed the average job growth.
Job Description and Skills
Medical imaging assistants support imaging department staff such as imaging technicians, office staff and physicians. They must be knowledgeable in imaging procedures, including safety protocols for patients and staff. Job duties can vary according to how imaging departments are organized, but usually include patient preparation and transport, as well as administrative support functions such as updating patient records and scheduling appointments. Knowledge of basic medical procedures is also very important.
Medical imaging assistants typically work in busy environments requiring knowledge of department and staff procedures designed for maximum efficiency. Good verbal and written communication skills, the ability to follow instructions and strong interpersonal skills are important skills for medical imaging assistants.
Earnings as a Medical Imaging Assistant
The jobs website ZipRecruiter lists a number of opportunities for different types of medical imaging assistants. Here are some of job titles listed with average annual pay:
- Medical Imaging Assistant: $51,596
- MRI Technologist Assistant: $70,812
- Radiology Aide: $41,619
- Radiology Assistant: $44,677
Note that these are average salaries. There can be a wide range of salaries with each job title depending on a number of factors, including employer, geographic location and experience. For example, ZipRecruiter shows that an MRI assistant salary can range between $21,500 and $115,000 annually.
Tips for Success
Meeting the minimum requirements for employment doesn't guarantee a job offer. Take college courses in medical assisting and imaging, and make sure to periodically update your training on medical imaging equipment and techniques.
Medical imaging assistants who work in hospitals can expect to work nights, weekends and holidays.
Lifting, transporting and preparing patients for imaging requires physical strength and knowledge of safety procedures.
Ask for guidance and help when needed. Don't risk harm to patients, coworkers or yourself by keeping quiet.
Discuss career development opportunities with academic counselors, supervisors and your human resources department. Medical imaging assistants can progress to careers as medical imaging technicians and radiologic technologists.