How to Become an EMT – Requirements and Procedure

EMTs or Emergency Medical Technicians offer care and support to the ill and injured patients outside the hospitals, or other places where medical facilities are not available before the patient is taken to the hospital. The profession involves moving and lifting of patients and, hence, is physically demanding. EMTs also bear the risk of getting contagious ailments, on a regular basis. The process of becoming an EMT in every state of the USA is different, but the overall path is somewhat similar. If you wish to enroll for paramedic courses and learn advanced life support skills, you first need to get your EMT certification. Here is the step-by-step procedure to pursue your career as an EMT.

Requirements for Becoming an EMT

Aspirants are supposed to fulfill the following criteria:

  • The minimum age of the student should be 18 years.
  • The aspirants ought to possess a high school diploma or its equivalent.
  • In order to comply with licensing requirements, one must undergo a program of the specified number of hours from an approved program. For EMT- Basic level, at least 100 hours of program, and for EMT- Intermediate/Advanced level, approximately 1,000 hours of the program are required.
  • You must acquire a state-issued license by clearing the certification examination.
  • Good physical stamina is a must.
  • Listening skills, problem-solving skills, compassion, interpersonal and communication skills are some of the key skills which are expected to be possessed by the candidates.
  • You must possess certification in CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation).
  • Driving license.
  • A clean criminal background is also mandatory.


1. Identify the Requirements of Your State

As mentioned earlier, the requirements for enrolling in EMT courses differ in all the states. So, it’s important to understand what exactly your state requires you to fulfill.

2. Obtain CPR Certification

Almost every state of the USA mandates the students to acquire Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certificate. This certificate will help you in your future career.

Some programs suppose you to undergo the BLS Healthcare Providers coursework which is offered by the American Heart Association. This curriculum makes you understand how to relieve choking, use an AED and perform CPR. You will receive the course completion card after passing a written and practical exam at the end of the course.

3. Get in Touch With or Join a Local Fire Department or Rescue Squad

If you want to know in detail about this profession, you can join rescue squad or fire department even without being an Emergency Medical Technician. Many departments conduct Explorer programs for the aspirants so that they can determine whether it is a right career for them or not.

4. Find the Right Class for You

Several healthcare institutions, community colleges, hospitals and fire academies offer certificate programs. Make sure that the program you choose meets the standards laid down by the U.S. Department of Transportation EMT-Basic National Standard Curriculum and covers subjects like respiratory assistance, cardiac emergencies and trauma response. Besides, ensure that it includes mandatory hours of classroom and laboratory sessions.

5. Be a Volunteer

If you volunteer at a local health care center or hospital without being an EMT, it will help you understand the real working environment. You also learn to interact with the patients and respond to emergency situations. You get opportunities to work with police officers, firefighters, and paramedics. Moreover, it also increases your chances of being recruited by the potential employers.

6. Qualify National Registry EMT Test

Every state conducts a minimum of one EMT test annually. The test comprises written and practical exam. It is compulsory to pass both the sections of the examination, in order to obtain certification. You can check your result online.

7. Re-take the Exam if You Fail

The failed candidates have 2 more chances to take the test again. If you fail to clear the examination in these 2 attempts, you will have to re-take the program.

8. Keep Your Knowledge Updated

Subscribe to educational literature or join professional groups to get acquainted with the current changes in the healthcare sector. It will help you sustain in the cut-throat competition.

9. Renew Your Certificate

Once you acquire EMT certificate, it is essential to renew it periodically to carry your work smoothly. For this, you are supposed to complete continuing education hours. Some fields of continuing education are prepping patients, assessing patient conditions, types of injuries and illness, child specialties, etc. You can also take refresher courses in Airway management and CPR.

10. Advance Your Career

If you want to become physician assistant, instructor or supervisor, undergo advanced education such as EMT-Intermediate or EMT-Paramedic.

Also know, EMT Salaries by States

Scope of Practice

The scope of practice and job duties for EMTs is wide and includes:

  • Rendering emergency medical care, rescue, and basic life support to the patients.
  • Assessing blood pressure, respiration and pulse rate, and temperature.
  • Using ventilating devices, basic oxygen delivery devices, suction devices and other adjunctive airway breathing aids.
  • Using stretchers and other body immobilization devices.
  • Administering emergency medications prescribed by physicians to the patients.

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