How to Become An EMT

Looking for a fast-paced and exciting job in the medical field? Want to help your community? Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are the first responders to emergencies and on the front line of health care. As an EMT, you’ll save lives and provide critical care to patients in need. If you’re wondering how to become an EMT, you’ll find all the information you need right here.

Education is a must in this field. EMTs provide medical care in the critical first moments of emergencies. The basic requirements to enroll in an EMT program is a high school diploma, a clear background check, and a basic CPR class. Most community colleges offer both EMT classes and Associates Degree classes to become a paramedic. Some hospitals also offer EMT classes, so if you’re interested in how to become an EMT, call your local emergency response agency to ask what local options are available for training.

What is required after graduation?

After taking and successful passing an EMT course, obtaining certification is an important step. The National Registry EMT exam assesses knowledge through a standardized test. Registration will provide a higher salary and ensure competency.

Every state requires that EMTs become certified to work. Most only require the National Registry exam but some states require additional certification. Check with your local programs for additional requirements.

Can I become an EMT online?

There are online EMT programs but be wary of any program that doesn’t provide or require hands on experience. Local classroom based programs are best because they provide training with local ambulance companies which increases the chance of employment. For the full time EMT looking to become a paramedic, an online program may be best. Ensure that the program is endorsed by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians before enrolling in any online EMT class.

How much does an EMT program cost?

The cost of becoming an EMT or paramedic varies wildly depending on location and program. A basic EMT program can start as low as $600 and go as high as $3000. A paramedic program can range from $3000 up to $16000. It’s best to contact any local programs for tuition rates and ensure that they are an institution in good standing with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.

Certification is another cost that must be factored into the cost of becoming an EMT. The NREMT costs EMTs $65 to attempt to take the test and paramedics $70.

What’s the difference between a paramedic and an EMT?

One difference in how to become an EMT versus how to become a paramedic is education. EMTs participate in 3-6 months of classroom instruction, approximately 150 hours of training. Paramedics require about 2 years of training with 1200 to 1800 hours of training.

When it comes to job responsibility, paramedics can “break skin” while EMTs can’t. Paramedics can insert IVs, give shots, and are trained to administer medications. EMTs are restricted to administering inhalers, providing basic airway management, and bandaging, among other tasks. Paramedics can also specialize in areas such as Critical Care, Advanced Life Support, and Flight which will expand their job prospects.

How much should you expect to make?

The average salary for an EMT according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2010 was $30,360 per year, or $14.60 per hour. Salaries vary by location with the highest wages paid in Alaska and Hawaii. A surefire way to increase your salary is to increase your education. Paramedics get paid the highest wages and can often transition into working in hospitals which generally pays more.

Is there a demand in the field?

The ten year job outlook shows a 33% increase in positions which is much faster than average. With the population aging, medical emergencies will only increase and EMTs will be called to respond to this crises.

As in all professions, more education means better job opportunities. The demand for paramedics is generally greater than the demand for EMTs. Regardless, medical emergencies are recession proof and demand will only continue to increase.

What if I don’t want to work on an ambulance?

EMTs aren’t just needed in ambulances. Hospitals employ paramedics to work in emergency rooms and critical care units. Many people in EMT programs are firefighters by trade, adding emergency response to enhance their knowledge and marketability. EMTs are also needed to work in helicopter ambulances, search and rescue, and as military medics. Nearly any career that requires fast, life saving services can employ an EMT.

How much physical fitness is required to become an EMT?

Physical fitness is a must when becoming an EMT. Patient transports and life-saving CPR requires strenuous exertion and physical fitness. EMTs lift patients, carry heavy equipment, and climb flights of stairs. Working quickly is essential to providing care so keeping in shape is an important part of this profession.

What are the dangers of becoming an EMT?

EMTs are exposed to body fluids with minimal personal protective equipment. Exposure to blood borne diseases is a very real danger. Accidental needle sticks are possible and even probable when the ambulance is jostling down a busy street. While taking proper precautions can reduce the risk of exposure, it cannot eliminate exposure to blood born disease.

EMTs work in highly stressful situations so depression and burnout are common in this field.

What are the benefits?

Not everyone gets to say they saved a life at work. EMTs provide vital care for some of the sickest patients in the community. The job satisfaction that comes with providing lifesaving services can be an added bonus to a career as an EMT.

Learning how to become an EMT can also provide an excellent way to transition into a medical career. EMT classes require minimal time to jump start a career and many employers offer tuition assistance to aid you in gaining more education. Once a paramedic transitions into a hospital, options may be available to go to nursing school or become a physician’s assistant.

A career as an EMT is a fun and fulfilling career path for the right person. People who want to save lives and possess the ability to react calmly and accurately in high stress situations will thrive in the emergency medical field. With more jobs opening up everyday and training as quick as eight weeks, it’s the perfect career for those looking to jump-start their career in the medical field.