How to Become an EMT


Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) care for the sick or injured in emergency medical settings. People’s lives often depend on the quick reaction and competent care provided by these workers. EMTs respond to emergency calls, perform medical services and transport patients to medical facilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics is projected to grow 24 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Emergencies, such as car crashes, natural disasters, and acts of violence, will continue to increase the demand for EMTs.

1. Decide if becoming an EMT is right for you.

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are health professionals who arrive first at the scene of an accident. They assess emergency situations and provide initial treatment to victims. They are required to stay calm in extreme circumstances and must use personal precautions.

As an EMT you can expect to be stable in your employment. In many areas, there is shortage of qualified emergency medical technicians, and your skills may be in high demand, so you will always have a place in the medical industry. EMTs earn a great deal of respect from the patients they help and the doctors they assist. EMTs are appreciated for saving lives, and as such, they can take a great deal of pride in their work.

Unfortunately, EMTs are some of the most underpaid workers in the medical industry. You may earn less money than you imagine you deserve for the amount work. If a high salary is your top priority, you may want to look into other positions. In addition, you may sometimes find yourself in dangerous situations as an EMT; for example, you may face violent and dangerous individuals. Stressful work and long shifts deter some people from this work.

2. Get a high school diploma and CPR Certification.

If you want to be an EMT, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent. To have a better understanding of the human body, it is recommended that you take several courses related to human biology in high school.

Common prerequisites also include proof of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification offered by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the Red Cross. Course in the certification programs may include the use of defibrillators and choking relief strategies. Students learn through lectures and practice with simulated victims. After completing the program, their certifications are usually valid for up to two years.

3. Get EMT-Basic certification.

EMT basic training (EMT-B) takes anywhere from six months to two years to complete, depending on the institution.  Many community colleges and technical institutions offer these courses, in which students usually learn how to use emergency equipment, how to handle common emergency situations, and how to administer oxygen. Some programs require students to be certified in CPR before beginning classes, while others include this training in the curriculum.

4. Pass a national or state exam to become certified.

Many states have adopted the NREMT (National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians) exam as their state exam.Applicants working in these states must pass the NREMT in order to be eligible for EMT licensing. To take the exam, applicants must have completed a recognized EMT training program and be at least 18 years old. The exam covers emergency medical services questions with an emphasis on patient-care techniques. The NREMT exam is a computer-adaptive test (CAT). These questions do not count toward the test score. They simply allow the test to determine with 95% accuracy the students’ aptitude. Those who pass the exam will be certified for two years. However, there are a few states that still hold their own exams.

5. Continue education.

If you would like to advance your career, you may go on to complete an EMT-Intermediate training program, which typically requires 300 hours of coursework. The program includes advanced instruction on using medication, complex airway devices, IVs, and EKGs.

Ready to see if a career as an EMT is right for you? Check out these videos from PathSource to hear what real EMTs have to say!


FIREFIGHTER-EMT: You Have To Maintain The Safety Aspect To Do This Work

FIREFIGHTER-EMT: You Gotta Take The Good With The Bad

If you have an iPhone, download PathSource for free on the App Store for unlimited access to videos about EMTs and hundreds of other professions. For Android users, a light version is available to download on Google Play with videos coming soon!


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