“There’s a shortage of highly skilled MRI techs in Los Angeles, and a lot of demand for them,” said Julius Wilson, a senior MRI technologist at Kaiser Permanente West Los Angeles Medical Center. “It’s an ideal position because the pay scale is high and the work is very rewarding.” Wilson is one of more than 229,000 specialists in the nation operating magnetic resonance imaging scanners to create diagnostic images. By 2022, well over 48,000 new specialists are projected to have already entered the vocation, representing a 21 percent bump in the number of career-driven professionals employed in 2012.

(Photo Courtesy of Julius Wilson)

(Photo Courtesy of Julius Wilson)

In Los Angeles, MRI techs earn nearly $90,000 annually, with chief technologists raking in six-figure salaries yearly, according to current data.

What characterizes an accomplished tech?

“To be a successful MRI tech, one must be able to think quickly on his feet, be a good problem solver, and have a solid understanding of physics, specifically the physics of magnetics. It’s also important to have good people skills.”

How has the need for proficient techs progressed since 2012?

“Because technology is moving so fast, constant training is required. While technology is making things more efficient, it still takes time to acquire images. A skilled MRI tech understands how to manage the flow of patients so they always feel cared for and never rushed.”

How will a tech’s responsibilities change by 2022?

“Technologists will play a bigger role in determining which sequencing needs to be done, based on a patient’s specific medical history. It’s a more holistic way of caring for patients. I also see MRI technologists becoming more involved medically.”

How does one plan for a sound career in this field?

“The best way to prepare is to become computer savvy and literate in software programs. Having a medical background also helps.”

What is your advice to job-seeking technologists?

“I would recommend volunteering in the radiology unit at your local hospital to give [them] an idea of what the job is all about and the skills needed. I also encourage anyone interested in the profession to take science courses, such as anatomy and physics.”

Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to Examiner.com.