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The salary of Travel Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (MRI Techs) can vary by the specific title as well as the location, facility, and assignment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for MRI Technologists was $74,690 in 2020 with the majority earning between $62,140 and $88,370. Entry Level positions or those paying the lowest 10% of salaries earned around $52,880 while the highest 10% earned more than $104,210. Typically, an MRI tech travel job will provide considerably higher hourly and weekly pay than permanent positions in the same location, though this varies widely by assignment and the skills and experience of each traveler.
California pays the highest average salary to Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists according to the BLS with an average annual wage of $106,040 and an hourly wage of $50.98. California is followed by the District of Columbia ($96,100 per year, $46.20 per hour), Hawaii ($96,000 per year, $46.15 per hour), Washington State ($95,850 per year, $46.08 per hour), and Alaska ($91,360 per year, $43.92 per hour).
Seeking the highest-paying contract doesn't always mean that you should take travel MRI tech jobs with the highest weekly pay. Factoring in the cost of living of each state can often give a better indication of what a travel MRI tech can expect to earn from an assignment. When comparing the cost of living adjusted average MRI tech salary, Washington State would be the highest paying state, which is also the fourth-highest paying state in total salary. The next highest paying states for MRI techs when factoring in the cost of living includes Nevada, Idaho, Texas, and Colorado.
MRI Techs - or Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists - are responsible for completing the pre-scan and scan phases of an MRI exam. MRI Techs use high-tech computerized MRI scanners to provide cross-sectional and 3-D reconstructed images of a patient’s organs and tissues, so physicians can diagnose and accurately pinpoint treatment for patients. MRIs are one of the most powerful diagnostic tools available and are most commonly used to study the heart, brain, and muscles of patients.
The difference between normal and abnormal tissue is often clearer on an MRI than a CT. Unlike X-rays and CTs, MRIs do not produce damaging radiation. An MRI Machine combines a powerful magnetic field with an advanced computer system and radio waves to produce accurate, detailed images of organs, soft tissues, bone, and other internal body structures. A contrast agent may be given to the patient through an IV to help brighten the image during the MRI if necessary. Since MRI scans can often last for 30 minutes to one hour, MRI techs are often responsible for keeping their patients calm and comfortable during the exams while in the control room.
Most MRI Technologists will pursue an associate's degree from a program accredited by the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JCERT), as that is the fastest path into the profession. Associates degree programs will understand biology, physiology, anatomy, patient care, and clinical skills through work in the classroom and clinical settings. It is also possible to pursue a Bachelor's degree in radiologic science which provides more in-depth instruction. This can lead to greater opportunities to pursue a higher salary and leadership positions.
MRI techs will generally be required to take a national certifying exam, the most common of which is administered by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists. An MRI tech would need to earn their ARRT (R) certification after graduation and it is strongly recommended to complete the ARRT (MR) exam which is the certification most companies prefer when filling MRI tech positions. State licensure requirements for MRI Technologists can vary by state and they are separate from certification.
While compensation offers can vary greatly depending on the contract or agency offering, pay packages for travel MRI tech jobs typically have four major components: hourly taxable wages, meals and incidentals, housing, and travel.
Full-time MRI techs working at healthcare facilities receive a salary, but most travel allied health employers offer hourly wages. Every pay package must include a taxable hourly wage, and the amount can vary depending on the shifts offered, location, and specialty required of the assignment.
Housing stipends can be included in a payment from an allied staffing agency. This is typically offered in two ways. Either the company is providing housing, or the traveler is taking the housing stipend. It is more beneficial for the traveler to take the housing stipend for two primary reasons. First, they will have a choice in where they stay. Everyone’s definitions of comfortable and acceptable are different. The second reason the housing stipend is more beneficial for them is that it can be given as a nontaxable amount.
Also known as per diems, meal and incidental stipends provide travelers a daily budget for daily living expenses. These standards vary depending on the cost of living in cities and states across the country.
Travel is the last portion of the pay package. While a travel stipend can be used to cover the cost of a flight for the traveler, it is more often than not used to subsidize the traveler’s expenses to and from an assignment. Travel expenses can be offered as a reimbursement rate per mile, though many agencies will opt to offer a flat rate to and from an assignment.