EMT Degree Program Options and Prerequisites

A degree program in emergency medical technology is designed to offer instruction in emergency care and transportation for the injured or ill. Students can focus on EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate or EMT-Paramedic programs.

Essential Information

Emergency medical technicians (EMT) are trained to be the first responders to emergency medical situations. Many aspiring EMTs complete EMT-Basic (EMT-B), EMT-Intermediate (EMT-I) or EMT-Paramedic (EMT-P) certificate programs. However, some schools also offer one- to two-year associate degree programs that include each of these three levels. Unlike certificate programs, EMT associate programs typically include general education coursework.

For an EMT associate degree program, students must provide high school transcripts as well as proof of graduation or a GED before enrolling. A medical examination and CPR certification are also required to begin an EMT program. Nearly all EMT programs require the completion of field experiences in emergency rooms or on ambulances.

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Associate Degree in Emergency Medical Technology

An EMT associate degree program typically has more educational prerequisites than a certificate program. Although there are more lecture and classroom courses included in an EMT degree program than in an EMT certificate program, both still have many hands-on, practical courses. Common course topics include:

  • Patient assessment
  • Basic emergency equipment
  • Airway obstruction
  • Treating trauma
  • Cardiac arrests
  • Nasal intubation

Popular Career Options

The degree can prepare job candidates for a range of career opportunities as emergency medical responders, emergency medical technicians, advanced EMTs, and paramedics. EMTs at the basic or intermediate level who have 1-2 years of experience can apply to a paramedic training program. Paramedics may conduct invasive procedures and administer medication. Some job options include the following:

  • Paramedic
  • Wilderness EMT
  • Air-Evacuation Paramedic
  • Firefighter Paramedic

Employment and Career Overview

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the estimated job growth rate for EMTs and paramedics is 24% for the years 2014 through 2024. This growth is due, in large part, to an increased in the middle-aged and elderly populations who are at risk of age-related emergencies. There may also be an increase in need for part-time and volunteer EMTs in more rural areas. The median annual EMT and paramedic salary in 2015 was $31,980.

Continuing Education

Graduates may wish to continue their education by pursuing degree programs in medicine and health care. The experience and skills gained in emergency medical technology can improve one's eligibility for emergency medical services management degree programs, paramedic to registered nurse bridge programs, physician assistant degree programs and medical degree programs. Providing emergency care while remaining calm under pressure is valued for patient care professions, placing experienced EMTs in good standing to seek other careers in the health care industry.

Individuals wanting to become EMTs have a couple options, one of which is earning an associate degree. This route has more educational prerequisites than the certificate program route, and it offers general education coursework alongside hands-on training. The outlook for EMT jobs is much faster than the average for 2014-2024.

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