EMT - 1: Overview of How to Get your EMT Basic Certification

Apr 02, 2021

Earn Your EMT Basic Certification

EMT-Basic Certification requires the completion of a formal training program and several certification exams. Let's look at the overall steps and requirements involved.

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are classified at the basic, intermediate, and paramedic levels. The EMT-Basic certification is for entry-level positions. EMTs are required to obtain certification, but requirements vary for each state. Many states abide by or accept the requirements set by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). To earn and maintain basic EMT certification, according to NREMT's standards, students must fulfill basic education prerequisites, enroll in an EMT-Basic certificate program, graduate from the EMT-Basic Certificate program, pass a cognitive certification exam, pass a psychomotor certification exam, and meet recertification and continuing education requirements.

Fulfill the Education Prerequisites

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), many EMT training programs require individuals to have a high school diploma or its equivalent before applying. Additionally, all programs require that students have a valid cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification and complete a preliminary emergency medical course.

Graduate From an EMT-Basic Certificate

Once these prerequisites are achieved, students can enroll in an EMT-1, or EMT-Basic Certificate program. An EMT-Basic Certificate program includes lecture course and hands-on experiences. Students learn life-saving procedures, emergency situation assessment, and patient transport. While many programs have a similar foundation course load, electives may also be available. Topics covered in a program may include, but are not limited to:

  • Human biology
  • Anatomy
  • Medical terminology
  • Trauma injury treatment procedures
  • Pediatric emergency care
  • Patient assessment
  • Cardiac emergency care
  • Hazardous material management
  • Ambulance operations

To earn certification from the NREMT, the curriculum must comply with the U.S. Department of Transportation EMT-Basic National Standard Curriculum. Programs often offer classroom study and hands-on training in medical facilities and generally last less than a year.

Earn Professional Certification

Once they finish the certificate program, graduates must then pass cognitive and psychomotor examinations. The cognitive exam is a computer-adaptive test ranging from 70 to 120 questions and lasting two hours. The psychomotor exam is a hands-on skills test that may be administered as part of the certificate program or by a State EMS office. Proficiency is tested in areas such as patient assessment, shock management, bleeding control, join immobilization, and oxygen administration.

Complete Continuing Education & Recertify

Continuing education is required to keep this certification valid. The recertification paths available depend on the state of certification. State participating in the NREMT's National Continued Competency Program (NCCP) require 40 hours of continuing education credits divided between national, state-level, and individual education components. The traditional path to recertification involves taking a refresher course and earning an additional 48 hours of continuing education credits. Professionals also have the option of skipping continuing education and retaking the cognitive certification exam instead.

EMT-Intermediate and paramedic certificate programs are also available, and the EMT-Basic is typically the prerequisite for these programs. Some schools offer associate degree programs at the paramedic level. Additional certification is required after completing these programs.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS projected that employment for EMTs and paramedics should grow 7% during the 2018 to 2028 decade. Competition should be greatest for jobs in local governments and independent rescue agencies, since these employers offer better incentives. As of May 2018, EMTs and paramedics earned a median salary of $34,320, according to the BLS. Those in the bottom 10% earned a median of approximately $23,000 or less, while those in the top 10% earned a median yearly salary of over $58,000.

There are many requirements that must be filled in order to earn EMT-Basic Certification and enter the field. These include graduation from an NREMT-approved certificate program, passing exams, and fulfilling other specific requirements that may vary according to state.

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