How to Become An Emt

EMTs (emergency medical technicians) are part of the first response team that arrives in case of an emergency. These professionals look after the sick or injured in emergency medical settings. They respond to emergency calls, perform medical services and transport patients to medical facilities as well. Some other responsibilities of EMTs include:

  • Responding to 911 calls for emergency medical assistance
  • Assessing patient’s condition
  • Creating patient care reports

Advanced EMTs are those who have completed basic to advanced medical procedure training, required for EMTs to perform their duties. This includes administering intravenous fluids and medications.

EMTs job is one of the most challenging as they deal with violent criminals to drug addicts to mentally disturbed individuals. As with any job in medicine, there are risks of getting injured as well. However, EMTs reduce this risk by following proper safety procedures wearing gloves while working with a patient or waiting for a law enforcement official to clear an area in violent situations.

Why Pursue a Career as an EMT?

Job outlook for the EMTs look positive in the years to come; according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), between 2012 and 2022, employment of EMTs is likely to grow. Emergencies including car crashes and natural disasters will continue to spur the demand for emergency medical technicians, BLS further noted.

Become an EMT

To become an EMT you must complete a postsecondary educational program and also obtain a license. Training programs for EMTs are offered by a number of technical institutes, community colleges, and facilities specializing in emergency care training.

How Long Does it Take to Become an EMT?

These trainings are generally postsecondary award programs that are non-degree based and usually require less than one-year of full-time study. Some programs may require 2 years to complete. However, the exact program duration is subject to the enrollment status of a candidate.

What are the Requirements for Admissions?

To enroll in the EMT programs, students must:

  • Hold a high school diploma or GED
  • Complete courses in physiology and anatomy
  • Hold a cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification
  • Pass reading and writing placement tests
  • Go through a criminal background check

What Courses will you Study?

EMT training programs provide students with instruction in numerous areas including dealing with trauma and cardiac emergencies, assessing patients' conditions, and more. Students also learn how to clear obstructed airways with the help of field equipment, and learn how to cope with emergencies. Some of the topics of study may include:

  • Psychology
  • Principles of trauma management
  • Medical terminology
  • Neurological emergencies
  • OB/GYN emergencies
  • Medical emergencies
  • Traumatic emergencies
  • Ambulance operations

Candidates may also receive instruction in pediatric and geriatric emergencies, medical, legal, and ethical issues in EMT, respiratory emergencies and cardiac emergencies. Besides, programs may also explore endocrine emergencies and environmental emergencies.

In addition to classroom based courses, some instruction in EMT programs may also take place in an ambulance or hospital setting.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates of EMT programs may:

  • Demonstrate the knowledge and skills required to provide basic pre-hospital emergency medical care and transportation of the sick and injured
  • Provide emergency care required at the scene of a medical emergency or traumatic injury
  • Demonstrate the use and care of all medical equipment
  • Identify the roles and responsibilities in performing the emergency care
  • Demonstrate the skills for basic life-saving techniques

Important Qualities for EMTs

EMTs face a lot of challenges every day. This is why they must possess certain skills that may enable them to carry out their work efficiently and effectively.

  • Physical strength - Absolutely essential to this line of work is physical strength and stamina as EMTs requires a lot of bending, lifting, and kneeling.
  • Problem-solving skills - EMTs must have strong problem-solving skills so that they may evaluate patients’ symptoms and provide appropriate treatment.
  • Compassion - Compassion and empathy is vital to work as an EMT as these professionals need to provide emotional support to patients in emergency situations.
  • Interpersonal skills - As EMTs work in teams, they should have good interpersonal skills so that they can coordinate their activities closely with others in traumatic situations.
  • Listening and speaking skills - EMTs must listen to patients to determine the extent of their injuries or illnesses and also explain procedures to patients.

Do I Need a License?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), becoming an EMT in all states requires a license. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certifies EMTs. All levels of NREMT certifications require completing a certified education program and passing the national exam that includes written and practical sections. Candidates may also have to pass background checks and they must be over the age of 18.

Where do EMTs Work?

EMTs work both indoors and outdoors, in all types of weather. According to the BLS, most paid EMTs work in metropolitan areas but volunteer EMTs generally work in small cities, towns, and rural areas.

In 2012, the industries that employed the most paid EMTs were:

  • Ambulance services
  • Government
  • Hospitals

Prospects for EMTs

The BLS reports that employment of EMTs is likely to grow at the rate of 23% between 2012 and 2022.

Work Schedule

Most EMTs work full-time and generally over 40 hours per week. As these professionals must be available to work in emergencies, they may also work overnight and on weekends.

How Much do EMTs Earn?

According to the BLS, the median annual pay for emergency medical technicians (EMTs) in 2012 was $31,020. The lowest 10% earned less than $20,180 while the top 10% earned over $53,550 a year. However, income is subject to numerous factors such as location and experience.


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