How to Become an EMT – Overview
It may take one to three years to become an emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic, depending on your educational qualification and career goals.
EMT training aims to teach life support techniques for first-responder situations. These include tourniquet application, CPR, wound treatment, etc.
Paramedics are slightly more trained than EMTs and hence require more extensive education and training.
This article will take a quick look at the requirements and paths to becoming a certified emergency medical technician (EMT) in the US.
What Does an EMT Do?
An EMT works in a variety of situations, including providing urgent medical treatment for the sick and injured in medical emergencies. They are also responsible for transporting patients to medical facilities.
Emergency medical technicians respond to emergency calls and medical emergencies. They can perform basic medical tasks and transport patients to the hospital, acting as first responders.
As an EMT, you will have to work under pressure to make life-saving decisions in high-stress situations.
EMTs work together with other medical professionals, such as:
The level of responsibility for an EMT depends on their education and training. Some first responders only provide basic care while EMTs are trained to perform more complicated medical procedures, on the field and on the way to the medical facility.
In short, as an EMT, you should be prepared to:
#1. Provide basic medical care to patients when in the field, which includes stopping external bleeding, administering CPR and applying neck braces.
#2. Work in ambulance services, fire and police departments and hospitals.
#3. Complete around 120 to 150 hours of training to obtain certification.
#4. Take the NREMT (National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians) exam.
What are the Average Salary and Career Outlook for an EMT?
As an EMT in the US, you can expect to earn up to US$ 36,650 as the median annual salary, according to reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The highest salary is earned by the top 10% of EMTs, which is around US$ 62,150 per year.
The BLS expects a 6% job growth for EMTs in the US by 2029, which is faster than the national average for other occupations.
The BLS reports suggest that as the population ages, it will boost the demand for first responders to age-related health emergencies.
How to Become an EMT?
To become an EMT, you will first need to finish high school and earn your diploma or a GED. You should earn CPR certification before enrolling in a post-secondary emergency medical technology program. These training programs last 1 to 2 years but do not confer any degrees.
Here’s a stepwise breakdown of how to become an EMT:
Step 1 – Complete Basic EMT Training
As an EMT, you will initially need to earn a CPR certification. You can undergo CPR training through various organizations, including the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association.
Then you will need to complete a post-secondary emergency medical technology program through a university, technical college or community college.
These programs usually last for 1 to 2 years and teach students to assess, care for and transport patients safely during medical emergencies.
Next, you will need to pursue a 2-year associate degree in emergency medical services. These programs train you to administer medications, resuscitate patients, insert IVs, etc.
Step 2 – Pass National/State Exam for Board Certification
You will need state certification to practice as an EMT. Some states require EMT aspirants to take state-specific certification exams.
However, the majority of states in the US accept the NREMT exam results. To take this exam, you must first complete a state-approved training course within the past 24 months of applying.
The NREMT exam involves a cognitive test and a psychomotor portion. You will get 6 attempts to pass the cognitive exam, and you can re-apply to take the cognitive exams 15 days after receiving the result.
You can take the psychomotor exam through an approved training site or a state emergency services office.
Step 3 – Complete Advanced EMT Training (Optional)
Some EMTs also choose to get additional training and certification for better career prospects. These advanced courses will help you to prepare for the Advanced EMT exam from the NREMT.
Advanced training courses usually require investing 150 to 200 hours into fieldwork. Some courses also require you to do internship rotations in an emergency room and an emergency services agency.
Step 4 – Complete 2-year Degree Program (Optional)
Various universities, community and technical colleges offer associate degree certification in emergency care training. Associate programs in the field usually cover advanced life-support techniques, physiology and anatomy.
To become an EMT, it is advisable to complete CPR certification. You should also take a 6-month long training course before you sit for the NREMT examination.
Make sure to take the NREMT examination as quickly as possible after completing your training. Make sure to read the state-specific guidelines for EMT certification in the state you wish to practice in.