Ambulance Technician Overview
More commonly referred to as emergency medical technicians (EMTs), ambulance technicians are separated into three levels: EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate, and Paramedic. They respond to 911 calls for emergency assistance, assess patients' conditions, administer care, and provide transport to medical facilities. Some overnight and weekend hours are necessary so that technicians are available around the clock.
Basic-level technicians require fundamental training in first-response emergency medicine, while higher level technicians need more advanced training. States have varying licensing requirements, which often include passing the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certification exam.
|Degree Level||Certificate; associate's degree may be preferred by some employers|
|Degree Field||Emergency Medical Technician/Technologist; Paramedic|
|Certification and Licensure||License requirements vary by state; certification via the NREMT often required; EMT-Basic certification required for paramedic licensing|
|Key Skills||Interpersonal and listening skills; compassion; physical strength; problem-solving skills; CPR training; able to use of backboards, restraints, and other medical supplies|
|Salary (2015)||$35,430 per year (Mean salary for emergency medical technicians and paramedics)|
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Let's explore the steps to become an ambulance technician.
Step 1: Complete an EMT Training Program
Prospective ambulance technicians can complete a state-sponsored basic EMT training program or enroll in a certificate or associate's degree program in emergency medical services, depending on the EMT level at which they want to work. An associate's degree program typically prepares students to work as paramedics, while lower-level training programs can qualify them for EMT-Basic or EMT Intermediate positions.
EMT training focuses on recognizing various medical emergencies and knowing which medical techniques and procedures to use for each case. Topics covered in these programs might include medical microbiology, legal aspects of emergency medical care, anatomy and physiology, respiratory care, and chemistry for health care. Students gain hands-on experience by completing a clinical practicum before taking a comprehensive examination.
Check for program accreditation. Students interested in pursuing a career as a paramedic should check to see if their program is accredited by an organization like the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the EMS Professions (CoAEMSP). Paramedics must graduate from a nationally accredited program to qualify for certification.
Step 2: Get an EMT License
States have different requirements for licensure. Some states require that candidates for EMT-Basic or EMT-Intermediate complete a specific set of courses before being awarded a license. Other states choose to have graduates of an EMT degree program sit for the NREMT exam. Anyone seeking EMT-Intermediate or Paramedic licensure must first have a current EMT-Basic license.
Step 3: Maintain Certification
Once a license is obtained, an EMT must renew it every two to three years to maintain employment. Generally, the renewal process involves completion of continuing education and refresher courses. Basic-level EMTs also might wish to pursue further education to open doors to higher-level jobs.
Remember, to become an ambulance technician, more commonly referred to as an emergency medical technician, you'll need to complete a training program and earn and maintain state licensure.