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Becoming an EMT: Emergency Medical Technician Career Information

emergency medical technician careers-how to become an emt

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Superheroes don’t just live in comic books or on the big screen. They exist in real life in the form of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). Where there is an emergency situation, EMT’s are the first responders. These skilled EMT’s, men and women, swoop in to help save lives. EMT’s have a crucial role in our society, and the amount of gratitude they deserve is more than they could ever earn through paychecks. Are you interested in becoming an EMT? Learn more facts about following an incredible career path as an EMT. According to the, Paramedics and EMT’s are rated highly in Best Healthcare Support careers.

What is an EMT?

maya angelou quote-what is an emt

EMT’s are qualified to perform life-saving efforts such as CPR, oxygen administration, take vital signs, spinal immobilization, and basic airway management. They respond to most emergencies such as car accidents, heart attacks, violence, childbirth, and more. Usually called in by emergency dispatch, or 9-1-1, EMT’s show up on the scene, ready to work alongside other emergency responders to take care of what needs to be done.

Requirements for EMT Training

If you are interested in becoming an EMT, there are a few requirements that you must fulfill before even starting the training program. Each state has its individual minimum requirements, but they are all aligned at the following:

  • 18 years of age
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Valid driver’s license
  • CPR Certified
  • Some schools will require basic math and reading exams before gaining entry
  • Some programs require your inoculations to be up to date.

So, if you can nod your head yes to the first four prerequisites, then you’re ready to go and start your EMT training course. Find out from the admissions office what other requirements you’ll need to meet. The Emergency Medical Technician program can last anywhere between one month to two years, depending on where you go. Vocational or trade schools, and community colleges require 120-150 hours worth of coursework. While most institutions require you to be CPR certified prior to entrance, some do include it as part of their coursework. Part of your school's program should include shadowing a Licensed EMT, so you’ll gain firsthand experience in the field.

Once you’ve completed your EMT schooling from a state-approved facility, and you’ve passed a background check, you will have to sit for a licensing exam that is given by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Depending on which state you’re in, the exam will be issued by the state or nationally. To be eligible to sit for the exam, you must take it within two years of successfully completing the EMT course. You will be expected to take a cognitive motor exam, and a psychomotor exam, which are your practical skills. The passing standard for the exam is based on your ability to prove you can provide safe and effective care as an EMT-Basic. If you don’t pass the exam the first time, you can try three more times with a fifteen day wait period between each time. The EMT certification needs to be renewed every two years.

  • Keep in mind: If you choose to attend a school that is not accredited, you may risk the chance of being denied when it comes to taking the licensing exam. Make sure you choose an accredited school. 100 percent of Career School Now's programs are accredited.

Choosing an EMT Program

There are a lot of EMT courses to choose from and the decision as to which one to attend can be confusing and overwhelming. The best way to approach it when trying to make your final decision as to which EMT program to choose is to keep some of these following points in mind:

  1. Create a list of EMT schools you’re considering.
  2. Research those EMT school reputations. See what their students are saying through reviews.
  3. Closely inspect and compare their training program. How long is it? What courses and skills are taught? There needs to be a good combination of classroom and field work.
  4. Do these EMT programs have job placement services?
  5. What is the difference in their tuition and do they offer financial aid of any kind?
  6. What is their student to teacher ratio?
  7. What is the graduation rate and success rate of their alumni?

If you are comfortable with the answers for a particular school or schools, then make an appointment to meet with their admissions and go from there!

How Much is EMT Training?

The great news is, to be prepared for a rewarding career, it isn’t going to cost you an arm, leg, and kidney. EMT training programs cost, on average, $750-$1,800 for a private program and $200-$1,000 for a public school program.

University programs charge $800-$1,000 for their program which can last between 1-3 months for EMT. Community Colleges will cost $200-$1,000 for the EMT courses, as well. Depending on the program, trade schools can cost $750-$1,800. The NREMT licensing exam will cost around $70, no matter which program you choose to get your education through.

Aside from the cost of school, expect additional costs for books, required health testing, other vaccinations when necessary, and your CPR certificate if it’s not included as part of the curriculum. These extras can add a couple hundred to your total bill.

NAEMT offers scholarships for all levels of EMS certificates and degrees. Since the EMT training is comparatively low cost, check with your institution of choice to see what their financial aid is, and if they have payment plans. Find out more about financial aid here.

If you’re considering EMT training online, there are a few that are acceptable by the NREMT. However, you may need to make your accommodations for clinical time with either a hospital or an ambulance company. A major part of the job training is through the hands-on experience which may not be available through online training. Continuing ed courses, which are needed to keep your license updated, are available online.

Classes in an EMT Program

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In your training course to become an EMT, you’ll have between 150-160 hours worth of classwork. While each institution may title their class names differently, the sentiment will be similar.

EMT Standard Class Topics:

  • Disease transmission
  • Emergency scene safety
  • EMS system communications
  • Different standards of care
  • How to bandage wounds
  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical terminology
  • Anatomy and Human Development
  • Patient assessment
  • Dealing with blood loss
  • Emergency childbirth delivery

Your training hours should include both classroom and field training.

EMT Employment Opportunities

The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment growth for EMS, including EMT’s, to grow 11 percent through 2030. This is a little faster than the national average.

One of the reasons for this spike in employment growth for EMT’s is the fact that the US population is aging. With age comes more related illnesses such as heart attacks and strokes, which will increase calls to 9-1-1, thus increasing the need for EMS to respond. And sadly, there will always be natural disasters, car accidents, fires, and other such unfortunate circumstances calling for the need of EMT’s and Paramedics.

States With The Highest Level Of Employment For EMT’s


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EMT Career Ladder

One of the great things about going into EMS jobs is that they are not dead-end careers. After you’ve gotten your EMT-Basic license, you can keep going on through the offered programs. Many EMT-Basics go into the medical field.

The primary ‘career ladder’ when it comes to EMS careers looks like this:

  • EMT: 1-3 months of training from an accredited school.
  • AEMT: 30-300 hours of additional training to be qualified for certification.
  • Paramedic: 6 months-2 years of education, often through an associate’s degree program.
  • Firefighter: 3-6 months of academy training with several hundred hours of field work involved.

When it comes to emergency medical careers, often they are used as stepping stones to jump into higher level medical careers. It’s not uncommon for EMTs to further their education and become Registered Nurses or even doctors. If going into the medical field is a dream you’re looking to catch, then a great place to start is as an EMT!

How Much EMTs Make

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, EMT’s and Paramedics earned a national average of $38,830 in 2021. The top 10% of those in EMT careers received an average of $59,860. Some EMTs significantly increase their salary by working as much overtime as they can. You will earn time and a half after you hit the 40 hour mark.