Travel MRI tech frequently asked questions

Midge Lee
October 4, 2023
Reading time:
5 min
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Travel MRI technologists, also known as magnetic resonance imaging techs, are specialized radiology technologists who operate magnetic resonance imaging equipment to create diagnostic images of the inside of a patient's body, specifically within soft tissue. The diagnostic imaging that MRI techs provide helps diagnose issues in the brain and nervous system, musculoskeletal system, heart and blood vessels, breasts, and more. The job outlook for travel MRI techs is bright. Travel MRI techs are in demand not only because facilities are short staffed, but because travel MRI techs may have the skills to work on a broad variety of MRI equipment.

At Nomad Health, we understand that travel MRI tech jobs can be demanding, but incredibly rewarding too. That’s why we’re dedicated to removing obstacles for our travel MRI techs, so they can thrive personally and professionally wherever they are. If you’re starting your travel journey, or want to learn more about what it’s like to be a travel MRI tech, our guide is here to help.

What does a travel MRI tech do?

Travel MRI techs work with state of the art equipment to diagnose patients using magnetic resonance imaging technology. Travel MRI techs are highly experienced with using different types of MRI technology and know how to communicate and collaborate with patients and other healthcare staff. The MRIs performed may be routine, STAT, or in conjunction with interventional procedures done by medical providers. In addition to patient care, travel MRI techs have routine tasks they must complete throughout the day, including:

Equipment checks

Travel MRI techs, specifically those working a morning shift, turn on MRI scanners and calibrate them for the day ahead. It’s their responsibility to ensure quality control checks are in place, and that the MRI machine is functioning as it should.

Safety Protocols

Because MRI machines have a strong magnetic field, it's critical for MRI technologists to ensure the surrounding environment, incoming patients, and other healthcare providers present are in accordance with safety protocols for the appropriate MRI zone.

Schedule checks

Travel MRI techs will review their patient schedule for the day to determine what types of scans to expect, if contrast will be required, if patients meet MRI safety standards, and if RN supervision of the patient is required. They may also use this time to review patients' medical history and note any specific concerns ahead of scans.

Exam room prep

Travel MRI techs will make sure exam rooms are stocked with the appropriate supplies before each new patient arrives. If needed, travel MRI techs will check that contrast agents are ready.

Interact with patients

Travel MRI technologists regularly interact with patients before, during, and after MRI scan procedures. They answer patient questions, address concerns, and help the patient prepare for their scan. Post-scan, Travel MRI technologists will provide patient education for any care or follow-ups needed after their scan.

Perform MRI scans

The most important task a travel MRI tech does is to safely perform MRI scans. To do this, they will assist the patient to get into the correct position that works best for accurate MRI imaging. Travel MRI techs operate scanners from a control room and communicate with the patient through an intercom. During a scan, settings may be adjusted and calibrated by the travel MRI tech to get the most high-quality images possible. They may also administer a dye, like gadolinium, to enhance the images. Post-scan, the MRI tech will clean and sanitize the machine in preparation for the next patient.

Image review and documentation

Travel MRI technologists are in charge of reviewing images for quality and completeness. After the images have met this criteria, the MRI tech will document the procedure and make note of any observations in the patient’s medical record. From there, they send the images to a radiologist for final interpretation.

Equipment shutdown

For travel MRI techs working a closing shift, MRI equipment must be properly shut down and sanitized for the next day.

How much does a travel MRI tech earn?

The total compensation of travel MRI technologists depends on many different factors including location, experience, facility demand, education, and certifications. At Nomad Health, travel MRI techs earn around $66 per hour in weekly compensation, including a travel stipend.

How do you become a licensed travel MRI technologist?

To become a travel MRI technologist, everything starts with your education. You’ll be required to have a high school diploma, then complete an accredited radiologic technologist program. Aspiring travel MRI techs can choose between certificate programs, associate degree programs, or bachelor degree programs. The most important step is making sure the institution is accredited by a recognized body like the Joint Review Committee on Education and Licensing in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT).

Next, you’ll need to pass the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) exam to become a certified radiologic technologist. To specialize in MRI, you’ll need to enroll in an MRI-specific training program, or get on-the-job training. After that, you’ll be eligible to take the MRI certification exam from AART, which is the industry gold standard. There are other MRI certifications available from organizations like the American Registry for Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT). Once you’ve passed the MRI exam, you can go on to obtain your state license for where you want to practice in.

How long does it take to become a travel MRI tech?

How long it takes to become a travel MRI tech will depend on factors like your educational path, test preparation, and gaining the necessary experience required to complete the certification process. Depending on the job market, it can take anywhere from five to seven years, or more, to become a travel MRI tech.

Are travel MRI technologists in high demand?

Yes. Travel MRI technologists are in high demand. Like other healthcare travel careers, travel MRI techs remain in high demand because of short term staffing needs at healthcare facilities. Another factor that keeps MRI techs in high demand is the rapidly evolving technology they are trained to use. As facilities change or upgrade their MRI machines, It’s critical to have experienced MRI technologists familiar with the models and brands of MRI machines used, and who know how to troubleshoot, update, and operate the equipment.

What certifications do I need as a travel MRI tech?

Certifications are an excellent way for travel MRI techs to show their expertise and increase their skills. Most of these certifications are earned from the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) and the American Registry for Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technology (ARMRIT). Depending on the specific MRI tech travel job, the facility, and state regulations, you may be required to obtain further certifications. At a minimum, travel MRI technologists will require the following certifications:

Basic Life Support (BLS)

Most healthcare facilities will require travel MRI technologists to have a current BLS, which includes CPR training, in case of an emergency.

State license

Travel MRI techs should know that licensing depends on the state you’re working in. Each state comes with its own licensing requirements, so be prepared to take additional certification exams. Be sure to check with your state licensing board to get the most updated information.

MRI certification

With Nomad, travel MRI techs must obtain an MRI certification from AART.

Travel MRI tech healthcare resources

  1. American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT). (n.d.). MRI. Retrieved from
  2. American Society of Radiologic Technologists (ASRT). (2018). MR Safety White Paper. Retrieved from
  3. Kanal, E., Tweedle, M., & Brunberg, J. A. (2016). Residual or retained gadolinium: practical implications for radiologists and our patients. Radiology, 279(3), 630-635. Retrieved from
  4. American Registry of Magnetic Resonance Imaging Technologists (ARMRIT). (n.d.). Certified Technologists. Retrieved from

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Midge Lee
Midge is a registered nurse with eight years of clinical experience in ER, ICU, and home health. After travel nursing for a couple of years, she transitioned from the bedside to writing full-time. She’s passionate about diversity and trauma-informed care and will write hospital haikus if you ask nicely. Currently, she’s an SEO content writer at Nomad Health.
Published: Oct. 4, 2023
Modified: Oct. 4, 2023