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EMT - Basic: Salary and Career Information

Working as an EMT (emergency medical technician) - Basic requires some formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and certification to see if this is the right career for you.

Emergency medical technicians are confident, possess strong communication skills, and are interested in human medicine. This career could be appropriate for someone with these qualities, who is willing to complete a training program and earn the required certification.

Essential Information

There are three levels of emergency medical technician (EMT) certification, including the entry-level EMT-Basic. EMT-Basics travel to emergency scenes and provide the most basic form of pre-hospital care to patients. In addition to a high school education, EMT-Basics must complete a training program at the corresponding level. Such programs may be completed in as little as one semester and include clinical or practical elements.

Required Education EMT-Basic training program; some programs lead to certificates
Additional Requirements National and/or state certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 24% for all EMTs and paramedics*
Median Salary (2015) $31,980 for all EMTs and paramedics*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

EMT-Basic Salary

The median salary for EMTs and paramedics was $31,980 in May 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The highest 25% of workers had wages of $42,150 or more, and the lowest 25% earned $25,490 or less.

EMT-Basic Career Information

EMTs-Basic respond to emergencies and assess the conditions of patients on the scene. They are trained in basic life support (BLS) care and have the skills needed to treat trauma, respiratory, diabetic, behavioral, environmental, allergic and cardiac emergencies. They also have the skills needed to treat poisonings and assist in childbirth. EMTs-Basic transport patients from the emergency scene to a medical facility and may transport patients between medical facilities as well.

EMTs generally work in pairs. While transporting patients, one drives while the other sits with the patient and monitors his or her vital signs. When they arrive at the medical facility, EMTs-Basic inform the staff of their observations and any treatment given to the patient. They must create documentation of every call they go on, including patient insurance information and vehicle maintenance reports. They must also check inventory in the ambulance at the beginning of each shift and after each call, restock supplies as needed and make sure the ambulance is in good working order.

Interpersonal skills are necessary since EMTs-Basic must interact with a wide variety of different people. They need to display confidence and provide reassurance to distraught patients and bystanders. They should also be in good physical condition since they may need to lift heavy patients.

EMT-Basic Education Requirements

EMT-Basics need a high school diploma and must complete a training program in emergency medical technology. After completion of an approved program, EMTs-Basic must pass an examination to earn their licenses. In most states, the required examination is given by the National Registry for Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Most states require license renewal every 2-3 years, as well as regular continuing education courses.

An emergency medical technician can begin work after completion of a training program and successful licensing. The job is dynamic and often stressful, and requires someone with good interpersonal skills and physical fitness.


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