EMT License Requirements and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an emergency medical technician (EMT). Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and licensing to find out if this is the career for you.

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EMTs must complete training appropriate to the level -- from basic to paramedic -- that they wish to obtain certification or licensure for in the field. Each level of training includes varying amounts of time and types of skills in order to pass. Once finished with training and earning credentials, EMTs provide emergency medical care and transportation for patients.

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Essential Information

Licensure and training for prospective emergency medical technicians (EMT) are most commonly offered at the basic, intermediate and paramedic levels. EMTs initially assess and treat patients, as well as transport them to a nearby medical facility. To become an EMT or paramedic, one must complete the requisite training for that level. For example, paramedics must first complete a basic program to train at the paramedic level. Once training is complete, all EMTs and paramedics must be licensed or certified according to state regulations.

Required Education Training programs at the appropriate EMT level: basic, intermediate, and paramedic; some programs lead to certificates; paramedic programs resulting in associate's degrees are available
Licensing Required in all states; most states utilize the exams proctored by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT)
Projected Job Growth (2012-2024) 24% for EMTs and paramedics*
Median Salary (2015) $31,980 for EMTs and paramedics*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Licensure Requirements for Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT)

All states in the U.S. require emergency medical technicians (EMT) to be licensed. While licensing requirements vary by state, EMT training programs are typically offered at the basic, intermediate and paramedic levels. The length of a training program depends on the level of licensure being earned, with basic EMT programs taking as little as six months and paramedic programs taking up to two years to complete.

Basic EMT programs, often offered as a certificate or single course, cover patient assessment, managing cardiac emergencies, bleeding control, airway management and shock management. Intermediate EMT programs go on to cover advanced airway devices, patient resuscitation, intravenous therapy and ventilatory management. Paramedic programs, commonly offered as an associate degree, include advanced training in interpreting EKGs, administering medication and endotracheal intubations.

Most states require individuals to hold EMT certification in order to obtain an EMT license. In order to obtain licensure, many states require certification through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Certification by the NREMT, at all EMT levels, requires passage of a psychomotor and cognitive examination covering knowledge and skills learned as part of the prospective EMT's training program. There are some states that offer their own certification exam or give prospective EMTs the option of taking a state or NREMT exam. In order to maintain their license, EMTs must be recertified every two years.

Career Information

EMTs are the first responders to an emergency situation, providing initial emergency medical care and transporting patients to medical facilities. EMTs respond to a host of issues, including automobile accidents, gunshot wounds, strokes, heart attacks and childbirth. EMTs are commonly employed with hospitals, fire departments, private ambulance services, helicopter rescue crews and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2014 and 2024, employment for EMTs and paramedics is predicted to increase faster than average at 24%. EMTs and paramedics had median hourly wages of $15.38 in 2015, equating to $31,980 a year, according to the BLS.

The amount of time it takes to become an EMT varies based on level, with basic EMT programs taking around six months and paramedic training taking up to a couple of years to complete. Several states require these emergency responders to possess certification to be eligible for state licensure. EMTs help save lives every day by providing emergency medical assistance in a variety of situations ranging from car accidents to childbirth.

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