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EMT-Basic Training Programs and Requirements

Read about the prerequisites, classes and training involved in EMT-Basic programs. Learn about career options, salaries and employment projections within the field.

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Essential Information

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)-Basic programs prepare students to become first responders in emergency situations. Coursework covers topics such as assessment and treatment of injuries and use of medical equipment. The EMT-Basic certification is the first of three levels of certification and training available for emergency medical services personnel and often serves as a prerequisite for earning EMT-Intermediate and paramedic certifications.

EMT-Basic training programs can be offered through community colleges and emergency medical service providers, such as fire departments. These programs usually take 3-12 weeks (typically 120 hours) and combine classroom learning, physical skills, aptitude enhancement and sometimes hands-on training in emergency settings. EMT-Basic training programs prepare students to take the required EMT-Basic exam through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.

Educational Prerequisites

In addition to meeting standard testing and age requirements, a high school education or its equivalent is generally needed to enter EMT-Basic training programs. Prior volunteer experience is also recommended to ensure a strong commitment to the career.

Course Topics

EMT-Basic training programs give students the knowledge and skills to provide basic emergency medical assistance to people in need. Students can learn how to use required emergency medical equipment, such as suction mounts, neck immobilizers and splints. Common courses or training includes:

  • Emergency responsiveness
  • Trauma scenarios
  • Managing respiratory systems
  • Assessing patients
  • Cardiac emergencies

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) emergency medical service careers are expected to grow at nine percent from 2008-18 ( An aging population should result in more emergency calls, which will fuel this growth. Emergency medical technicians earned mean annual salaries of $33,300 in 2010, according to the BLS.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

Aspiring EMT-Basics must obtain certification in order to be eligible for hire. All levels of emergency medical services personnel can gain certification through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). The NREMT certification exam for EMT-Basic tests the cognitive skills and physical abilities of applicants. Upon passing the exam, students gain EMT certification for a period of one year. Every year after that, EMTs must complete continuing education in order to be legally eligible to work in the career field.

A student who completes an EMT-Basic training program may pursue advanced education in the field. Through a certificate or associate degree program, students can pursue certification at the EMT-Intermediate or paramedic level. Completing such a program could qualify an EMT to gain more responsibility in the workplace, including the operation of more complex equipment and the performance of more delicate procedures. Regulation of the tasks designated to EMT-Intermediate or paramedic professionals varies greatly by state.

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