How To Become An EMT

How To Become An EMTMany first time job seekers, and those looking for a new career, want to learn how to become an EMT.  Being an EMT offers many benefits, including: a defined career path, numerous job openings, and diverse working conditions.

EMT work can take many forms depending on the EMT’s certification level, work experience and location.  EMTs are licensed by their individual state but obtain certifications from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).  The NREMT certifications include: First Responder, EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate/85, EMT-Intermediate/99, and Paramedic.

The following steps describe how to become an EMT.

  1. Meet the Minimum Requirements – Although each state (and each employer) may set their own requirements, there are a minimum set of requirements that must be met.  To become an EMT you must be 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent (GED).  You must pass a state approved EMT training program and pass your EMT exams.  Most employers will also require you to have a valid driver’s license and have no felony convictions.
  2. Obtain a CPR certification – A valid CPR certification is required for the EMT-B certification (and higher certifications).  CPR training may or may not be included in your EMT training courses.  If CPR training is not included in your courses, you can receive your CPR certification from the Red Cross or American Heart Association.
  3. Take and pass an approved training program – To become an EMT you must complete a state approved training course.  EMT courses are available from a wide variety of sources, including community colleges, healthcare institutions, local fire departments and independent providers.  The courses must meet the National Standard Curriculum as defined by the U.S. Department of Transportation.  EMT training ranges from 40 hours to 1,000 or more hours (for a Paramedic certification).  A typical EMT Basic training program may take 2 to 6 months to complete.
  4. Pass your NREMT certification exam – EMT candidates must pass their appropriate NREMT certification exam.  The NREMT exams are delivered via computer and administered by an independent testing provider (Pearson VUE).  The EMT-B test will consist of between 70 and 120 questions and takes about 2 hours to complete.
  5. Become state licensed – Every state requires an EMT to be licensed.  Each state will have its own licensure requirements.  States typically require that an EMT renew their license every few years and complete continuing education courses on a regular basis to maintain their skills and knowledge.
  6. Find a job – Obtaining work experience is a vital component to becoming an EMT and ultimately advancing your career.  Entry level EMTs work for a variety of organizations.  Ambulance services are the largest employer of beginning EMTs.  Hospitals and local governments also employ a significant amount of EMTs.  EMT salaries vary greatly by location and experience.  EMTs with less than 1 year of experience typically earn between $10 and $13.50 per hour.  The overall EMT median salary is approximately $30,000.
  7. Advance your career – One of the benefits of becoming an EMT is the well defined career ladder.  With experience and more training, EMTs can gain additional certifications from the NREMT which can lead to better, higher paying jobs.  Paramedic is currently the highest certification offered by the NREMT.

If you want to become an EMT, you should follow these steps and pursue your career.  Being an EMT can be a rewarding career choice for people who seek challenging, rewarding work with potential for advancement.