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Emergency Medical Technician - EMT - Overview of Career Education

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an emergency medical technician (EMT). Get a quick view of the requirements, including degree programs, job duties and certification, to see if this is the career for you.

EMTs are often the first responders to a health emergency and as such, need to be appropriately trained and licensed. Training for this job can begin as soon as you are 18 years of age and have earned your high school diploma or GED. You must pass a certification exam before beginning work, and will need to recertify on a regular basis.

Essential Information

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are certified professionals who provide emergency care to people in need of assistance. Students who are interested in an entry-level medical assistance career may want to consider becoming an EMT. Emergency medical technicians must have a high school education or equivalent and be at least 18 years of age in order to begin training.

Required Education High school diploma or GED; EMT training (some training programs lead to a certificate)
Certification Required: National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 24%
Median Salary (2015)* $31,980

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Education for Emergency Medical Technicians

EMTs are involved with assisting the injured, so formal training is needed. Every state also requires technicians to be certified. In order to become certified, students must complete a training program and pass an exam. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), technicians must register every two years to keep their certification current.

Training Information

EMTs must be able to provide basic emergency medical care in first responder scenarios, such as car accidents. As a first responder, EMT training generally combines classroom and hands-on learning, with an emphasis on emergency skills and responsiveness. Some of the injuries or situations they might face include:

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Blocked airway passages
  • Bone breaks
  • Cuts and bleeding
  • Emergency child delivery

Emergency medical technicians must have a high school education and be at least 18 years of age in order to begin training. EMT basic training can usually be completed in 3-12 weeks, depending on the class and school schedule. Some schools offer college credit for emergency medical technician coursework as well.

During training, students learn how to assess patient situations such as breathing and respiratory failure, heart attacks and physical trauma. Graduates of EMT basic certificate programs or courses are prepared to:

  • Use oxygen systems
  • Apply immobilization boards
  • Provide CPR
  • Use stretchers
  • Drive effectively during emergencies
  • Wrap splints
  • Take vital signs

Certification

Regardless of the state, all students must pass the examination offered through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) in order to become certified as an EMT (www.nremt.org). Students are required to have completed their EMT training within the two years prior to taking the exam. Once certified, EMTs must recertify every 1-2 years by completing continuing education (CE) in emergency medical care. Some of the common CE topics for EMTs include:

  • Assessing patients
  • Trauma
  • Medical care
  • Infant and childcare
  • Airways

Career Information and Education Advancement

EMTs can advance their level of knowledge through additional training and education, such as EMT-Intermediate or paramedic programs, which can lead to more money or better career opportunities. Degree programs for advanced training include the Associate of Applied Science in Paramedic Technology or Bachelor of Science in Emergency Medical Care. The BLS predicts that EMTs and paramedics will see a 24 percent job growth between the years 2014 and 2024. These workers also earned a median annual salary of $31,980 in May 2015, according to the BLS.

High demand for EMTs over the next decade combined with minimal degree requirements may make this career attractive to high school graduates wanting to begin work right away. However, the training needed to work as an EMT is detailed and covers many different aspects of emergency assistance. Continuing education and recertification requirements must be met at regular intervals to continue working and to advance in this field.


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