Who are EMTs? Quite simply, EMTs are people who desire to medically care for the sick and injured. Let me say first, “thank you” for your interest in the exciting and high demand field of Emergency Medical Technicians! Our nation needs people like you who are willing to work hard and join the ranks of highly trained EMS personnel that our country so desperately needs!
EMT training requirements vary from state to state. Please select your state below to read about specific information for your own state.
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Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
What is an EMT?
An emergency medical technician is a first responder. Someone who is one of the first to arrive on the scene after car accidents, medical emergencies or fires. Oftentimes, EMTs work alongside other first responders, such as police or firefighters, to provide whatever care is most needed during an emergency. What you do will help save lives.
An EMTs job, first and foremost, is to treat wounds and injuries at the scene of accidents or at a patient’s home. Once there, an EMT will assess the patient’s condition and work to stabilize the patient long enough to quickly transport them to the nearest medical facility. Medical care that may be involved includes; control of bleeding, applying bandages, setting of splints, immobilizing spinal or neck injuries, administrating oxygen and intravenous drips, CPR, treatment of burns, assisting in childbirth, and helping evacuate people trapped by accidents or fire. As you can see, that is a lot of responsibilities. If you think you have what it takes, keep reading.
Find more information about EMT job description.
Where would I work as an EMT?
There are many diverse settings that an EMT may find work. Generally, there are more job options in larger population areas. However, even smaller locales continue to have needs for trained EMT. Some potential job settings for EMTs are:
- Fire Departments
- Ambulance Services
- Emergency Rooms
- Industrial Settings
- Ski Patrols
- Zoos and Amusement Parks
- Concerts and Live Events
- Movie Sets
- Individual Doctors
- Search and Rescue Teams
As you can see, there are a lot of options to choose from. Take a look at the list above and try to figure out where you see yourself working as an emergency medical technician. Do you like to listen to live music? Do you enjoy the outdoors or working near water? Do you want to be around cutting edge medicine of the local ER? Figuring this out may help you find an EMT job that you would really enjoy.
Find more information about different types of EMT jobs.
EMT Training and Education
How do I become an EMT?
To begin with, there are some basic prerequisites that are generally needed in order to enroll in EMT basic training courses. Check your individual state’s requirements by looking up local EMT training programs online and reading about their requirements for enrollment (California’s, for example). However, here is a good general guideline:
Typical Educational Requirements
- At a minimum you need a high school diploma or equivalent in order to enroll in EMT basic or paramedic training programs.
- Most of the time you are required to have gained CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certification. – visit redcross.org for information on classes near you.
- You generally need to be up to date with immunizations for Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and MMR (measles-mumps-rubella).
- You need to have passed a recent physical examination by a doctor.
- You need to allow the school or educational institution to run a criminal background check on you.
After meeting the minimum requirements listed above, start by looking for EMT schools in your area. Two things to consider when looking for EMT training is how long the training will be and how much classes will cost. Examine, these options below:
EMT School Choices
Are a low cost and effective way of getting your EMT education. Classes may take up to 4-6 months to complete for EMT basic training.
Non-profit EMT/Paramedic Associations
These programs are usually reasonably priced and often have more accelerated class schedules. You may find courses that only take 5-10 weeks to complete.
Usually a more expensive option, but may allow more flexibility in scheduling and course length.
Allows for the most flexibility in how fast you wish to complete the courses, but there are some potential limitations. Just to clarify, there is no such thing as an ENTIRELY online EMT training program. However, there are many programs that allow you to be able to take the lecture or “classroom” portion of the training online. After completion of the “cognitive” portion of the program, you would typically undertake a week-long hands on practical skills session at a nearby training center. There are some states that DO NOT accept online education as valid way to gain a state license. Be sure and research your state’s licensure policy before ever starting an online class. Also, find out if your state requires any internship hour requirements. If so, you will need to make sure that the online training program has an affiliation with local hospitals or ambulance companies. That way after completing your online courses you will be able to intern somewhere and meet the internship hour requirements your state has.
Most states recognize 4 levels of EMT certification with each increasing level requiring more knowledge and study. The first level of EMT certification is EMT-b (basic).
Course Breakdown for Basic EMT Training
EMT basic training courses are generally broken down into classroom lecture and hands-on training (about 120 hours), internships and clinical “in the field” work (around 10 hours) and final testing (5-7 hours).
In class, you will spend time learning about anatomy and physiology, how to assess a patient’s condition, treat various medical emergencies, how to safely lift, carry, transport patients, and how to use numerous medical equipment. You will also learn about medical, legal and ethical issues that may arise while providing medical care. All this learning is done in a classroom setting through lectures, simulations, and skill labs.
You will also be required to intern or work ride-alongs with local hospitals, fire departments or ambulance services. This is where you will get “real life” experience. While interning you will get the chance to use the techniques you have studied, in the real world, while under close supervision. There will usually be a checklist of successful use of various medical procedures performed while working that you will need to satisfy. Complete the checklist, the required hours and your internship will be done!
Once you have completed your education and any internship requirements, you will be able to take your state’s approved certification test. Many states utilize certification issued by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT), others have their own test. Your school will be able to direct you on how to take the test required by your state upon graduation from the program.
Once you have passed your state’s certification exam, you can apply for a license to practice as an EMT in your state, congratulations!
For more specific information about EMT training and education by state, click below.
EMT Certifications & Licensure
Why do I need EMT certification AND a license?
Differences Between Certification and License
Emergency medical services (EMS) certifications are utilized to set standards for different levels of EMT and Paramedic training. Your certification level will determine what duties you are qualified to perform while working as an EMT. Once you pass the appropriate educational courses, you must pass the certification test required by your state. Many states utilize certification issued by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).
Alternatively, licensure, is a license given by individual states that allows the person with the certificate to actually work as an EMT at a given level. There may be licensure stipulations that go beyond gaining a certificate, such as, internship hour requirements, passing a background check and registering with the state and county. Hence, you can be certified as an EMT, but not have a license, if you haven’t completed the state’s administrative procedures. On the other-hand, you can NEVER have a state license if you are not certified since that is a core requirement to gaining a license. For more information on the difference between EMT certification and licensure.
Levels of EMT Certification
As of 2013, individual states set their own standards for EMT licensure. However, all states require, as a minimum, the training curriculum and certificate program set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Here is a link to the NHTSA curriculum for EMT-B (basic), if you are interested.
NHTSA currently recognizes four levels of EMT certification:
- EMT-B (Basic) - At least 110 hours of training required
- EMT-I/85 (Intermediate) - 200 to 300 hours of training
- EMT-I/99 (Intermediate or Advanced) - 300 to 400 hours of training
- EMT-P (Paramedic) - 1000 hours or more of training
With each increasing level of certification the EMT is given more responsibilities for patient care and assessment.
Differences Between Levels of EMT Certification
EMT-Bs (basic), for example, are trained in mostly non-invasive patient care such as ventilation of patients with bag valve masks, administrating supplemental oxygen, splinting, bleeding control and wound care, neck and spinal immobilization, treating the patient for shock and the like.
At the highest level of training EMT-Ps (Paramedics) are regarded as being able to provide the highest level of pre-hospital medical care. Paramedics are trained in many more areas of urgent care, including invasive medical intervention. Paramedics may utilize procedures such as endotracheal intubation, administration of drugs and IVs, cardiac monitoring, surgical airway procedures, and decompression of chest cavities via needle thoracotomy, among others.
The intermediate levels of certification have skills and responsibilities that fall somewhere between the EMT-B and Paramedic. As you can see there is a lot to learn as an emergency medical technician.
For more specific information about EMT certification and licensure by state, click below.
Continuing EMT Training and Education
Already working as an EMT?
Recertification and “Refresher” Courses