graduateshotline logo
Last Updated: September 07, 2021

How to Become an EMT/Emergency Medical Technician?

An emergency medical technician deals with injured patients who come in for immediate treatment. Since a lot of people often depend on emergency medical treatment for survival, EMTs must remain dedicated to their jobs and stay on-call throughout the day. Candidates who wish to be an EMT must understand that this job will involve traveling to scenes of emergency and working together with firefighters and the police.

The job will require them to witness gruesome conditions that patients are in and calculate the probability of survival if they are taken to a hospital while they provide immediate treatments that can prolong the patient’s life. They are contacted by 911 operators at all times of the day and will have to be available for emergency calls, doing medical services, and even transporting patients to medical facilities.

This is one of the jobs in the healthcare sector which requires a lot of emotional and physical investment by the candidate since they will be expected to kneel, bend, and lift while moving patients throughout the day. They will also be prone to sickness and injuries due to the nature of this work. EMTs work on a full-time schedule spending at least 40 hours a week in the hospital. But due to the nature of the job, they will even be called in on weekends.

Eligibility to Become an EMT

Candidates who wish to be an EMT will have to complete their high school education or its equivalent like GED after which they will be able to do a postsecondary non-degree program in the same. They will have to also get a CPR certification during their high school years. The basic eligibility requirements for being an EMT includes-

Benefits of Becoming an EMT

A career as an EMT will let candidates join the healthcare sector with a minimum level of training. They will be able to work on the frontlines by doing a diploma or associate degree and will only have to take an extra certification before they will be employed. The benefits of being an EMT include-

Steps to Become an EMT

The steps for becoming an EMT ranges from completing a high school degree or its equivalent to gaining the EMT/AEMT certification after which they will be able to practice the profession. The steps that are included are as follows-

Step 1- The first step toward becoming an EMT is securing a high school diploma. Candidates will also be able to take their equivalent like GED instead and produce the certificate to enroll in an EMT program.

Step 2- It is ideal for candidates to get a CPR certification while in high school or before enrolling in an EMT program since it is part of the eligibility requirements for the course. Even if it isn’t, a CPR certification is considered to be vital for the job of an EMT in any workspace.

Step 3- The next step is in finding the right EMT program which is state-approved. The program they choose to attend must be listed by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

Step 4- The fourth step for the candidate would be to take the cognitive test for EMT certification which is called the National Registry Emergency Medical Technician Cognitive Exam.

Step 5- Once the candidate has cleared the cognitive examination, they will be able to write the psychomotor exam which is administered by the states’ emergency management services office or other training institutes.

Programs for EMT

Candidates who wish to be an EMT will be able to do an EMT program that is provided by a state-approved institution. Since it is a postsecondary non-degree program, candidates will be able to complete the course within a duration of 2 years or even less than 1 year depending upon the institution they choose. The courses they do will have at least 3-11 weeks of instruction which may amount to 120 hours of instruction.

EMT programs are generally offered by community colleges, universities, technical institutes, and even facilities that offer emergency care training. Accredited institutions will be listed by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

Popular Colleges for EMT

The popular options for EMT programs are offered by the following universities-

Certifications for EMT

There are different certification levels candidates can take after completing their emergency medical technology program. These are-

1. Emergency Medical Technician Certification

Candidates who take this certification will be learning about the basics of emergency medical services. They will be the people assigned with traveling to the scene of the emergency and providing immediate healthcare that can save the patient from fatalities. Upon reaching the scene, they will have to assess the condition of the patient and provide immediate care. They will have to control bleeding, address shock, stabilize breaks, deal with trauma airways, etc. as part of the job.

The EMT certification will require the candidates to take classes for 150 hours or more within a hospital or ambulance setting.

Getting EMT Certified
To get certified as an EMT, candidates will have to complete their EMT program which will last for a maximum of 2 years with 120 hours of class instruction. Once they have completed the program, they will have to get the credential of a Healthcare Provider or its equivalent. They will then be able to apply for the EMT certification which has a cognitive paper and a psychomotor exam.

The EMT cognitive exam is a computerized test consisting of 70-120 questions. This examination is conducted within a duration of 2 hours and will contain topics like Airway, Respiration, & Ventilation, Cardiology & Resuscitation, Trauma, Obstetrics & Gynecology, and EMS Operations. Candidates who are unable to clear their examination will be able to apply for a retest after 15 days.

Once this exam has been cleared, candidates will be able to take the psychomotor test which is conducted by the State EMS Office or training institutions.

2. Advanced Emergency Medical Technician Certification

Candidates who take an advanced emergency medical technician certification will have to deal with advanced emergency services that an EMT-level person cannot do while also doing the tasks they can do. This will include administering fluids, providing immediate medications, using advanced medical equipment, etc. It is ideal for candidates opting for this certification to take up anatomy and CPR during their high school years.

The AEMT certificate will require the candidates to take classes for over 400 hours before they will be able to take the EMT cognitive and psychomotor exams.

Getting AEMT Certified
Candidates who wish to learn more and advance their career from that of an EMT will be able to take the AEMT certification to grow within the field. The candidates who are applying for this certification will require an EMT certification or higher. They must also have completed an advanced EMT program from a state-approved institution which will include an EMT program along with additional 350 hours of educational instruction. They should also be holding a Healthcare Provider credential or its equivalent if they want to apply for the AEMT certification.

Once these requirements have been fulfilled, they will be able to attempt the cognitive examination which contains 135 questions in all. Candidates will be provided with a time duration of 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete the examination. The basic content for the examination will be the same as an EMT examination though each field will have advanced questions from within the same fields.

Upon clearing the cognitive examination, they will be able to attempt the psychomotor exam where they will have to prove their knowledge inpatient trauma assessment, patient medical assessment, ventilatory management, cardiac arrest management, IV and medication skills, pediatric intraosseous infusion, and random EMT skills.

Places of Work

Candidates who have been certified to be EMTs will be able to work in ambulance services and hospitals. According to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, almost 265,200 jobs were held by EMTs and paramedics in the year 2019 within the healthcare sector. Out of these employees, They will also be able to do volunteer work for fire departments and hospitals where they might or might not receive any pay. Unpaid EMTs will be called only during emergencies which can be a few times in a month. Paid EMTs are generally required to work at least 40 hours a week and are supposed to be available for overnight and weekend work if so required.

Career Prospects

The job outlook for being an EMT or a paramedic has been projected to grow at least 6% from 2019-2029 which is above the average of other occupations. As long as there are accidents, natural disasters, and other medical emergencies, EMTs will be in demand irrespective of the location they decide to live in.

The job description of an EMT includes responding to 911 calls and traveling to the spot of emergency whenever required. They will have to provide emergency medical assistance at the site of emergency by controlling bleeding, providing CPR, bandaging wounds, etc. Mostly, they will have to provide first-aid to the patients before they can be driven to a nearby hospital for further treatment. While doing this, they will also have to inform the hospital staff including physicians and nurses about the condition of the patient and the treatment they have provided on the way so that they will be able to continue treating the patient.

The estimated median pay they receive according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics is around $36,650 per year. This can be calculated to $17.62 per hour.

Healthcare Industry

Healthcare Career Options