How to Choose a School for an Emergency Medical Services Career

A program in emergency medical services will prepare students to treat and assess individuals undergoing trauma or medical emergency. This training often will lead to licensure as an emergency medical technician (EMT) or a paramedic. For students interested in learning advanced life support techniques, certificates and associate's degrees are available.

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Emergency medical services programs are most commonly held at 2-year community colleges, but some 4-year colleges also offer programs. At times, these can be referred to as EMT, EMS or paramedic technology programs.

Schools with Emergency Medical Services Programs

The following schools offer emergency medical services programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Programs Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Austin Community College District Austin, Texas 2-year, Public Certificate
$2,550 In-district
$9,210 In-state
$11,340 Out-of-state*
Broward College Fort Lauderdale, Florida 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Diploma
$2,753 In-state
$8,875 Out-of-state*
College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas, Nevada 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Certificate
$2,805 In-state
$9,450 Out-of-state*
West Los Angeles College Culver City, California 2-year, Public Paramedic Program $9,500**
Houston Community College Houston, Texas 2-year, Public Certificate
$1,632 In-district
$3,360 In-state
$3,756 Out-of-state*
Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis, Indiana 2-year, Public Certificate
$4,115 In-state
$7,992 Out-of-state*
Lone Star College System The Woodlands, Texas 2-year, Public Certificate $1,504 In-district
$3,184 In-state
$3,544 Out-of-state*
Miami Dade College Miami, Florida 4-year, primarily associate's, Public Certificate $2,834 In-state
$9,661 Out-of-state*
Northern Virginia Community College Annandale, Virginia 2-year, Public Certificate
$5,138 In-state
$11,055 Out-of-state*

Source: *NCES College Navigator, **School website

School Selection Criteria

Emergency medical services programs will often involve anatomy and biology classes, and many schools require a clinical internship before graduation. Before choosing a program, consider the following:

  • In many cases, students are required to be certified at either the EMT-Basic or EMT-Intermediate level before enrolling in certificate or associate degree programs for paramedics.
  • Some certificate programs take two years to finish and may include more clinical experiences or general requirements than 1-year programs.
  • Associate's degree programs may be better suited for students who wish to continue their education and transfer to a bachelor's degree program in a related field, such as allied health services or nursing.
  • Students may be interested in programs that offer courses specifically designed to prepare for national and state certification exams.

Certificate in Emergency Medical Services

Certificate programs typically require that students have been previously certified at the basic or intermediate EMT level. Individuals are often required to complete clinical experiences.

Associate Degree in Emergency Medical Services

Associate degree programs in the emergency medical services can be completed in two years and are typically designed to prepare students for national and state-level exams. General education courses in math, science and English are typically required. Students often need to complete extensive clinical experiences, which occur over multiple semesters.

Emergency medical services programs are available at the certificate and associate's degree levels. These programs emphasize competency in areas such as cardiology, trauma, emergency procedures, airway assessment and paramedic technology.

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