How to Become an Emergency Medical Technician

How to become an Emergency Medical TechnicianEmergency Medical Technician I is the first step in the Emergency responder career path. The path progresses from EMT I, EMT II, to Paramedic. Emergency Medical Technicians respond to emergency calls of help, where they care and tend to the victims of Illness, Injury, and even criminal trauma.

The primary responsibility of an EMT I varies depending on the setting in which they work. Some are employed in hospital Emergency Rooms, as Ambulance Drivers and assistants, as firemen, police officers, and even volunteer firemen. They are an important part of the emergency responder team. According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for an EMT was $30,360 annually or $14.60 hourly.

How to become an EMT
Find Related CareersSOURCE: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

First, Every state requires that Emergency Medical Technicians be certified by the state in which they live and work. This means that the requirements likely vary between state as to what qualifies as a EMT program.


  • High School Diploma and/GED
  • CPR certificate
  • Health Physical, including a TB test
  • Usually a valid state issued drivers license is also required

Program Requirements:

Most EMT programs are offered through community colleges, and even technical institutes. The basic program is 100-200 hours in length depending the state in which you live. The course consists of basic education regarding patient assessment in various settings. How to take vital signs, what those vital signs mean, how best to care for a patient until they can be transported to an Emergency Room.

EMT I students are taught how to use field equipment such as splints, traction devices, and cervical collars. Basic first aid is also taught so that students are able to manage wound care, care for broken bones, and even life threatening emergencies such as heart attack and stroke.

EMT I as part of an ambulance team is primarily a driver position. They work in conjunction with their partner in the field. They are usually paired with an EMT II or a Paramedic. This is a great field for both men and women. The eligibility for entrance is fairly low key. It is helpful to have had taken classes in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, and psychology.

Advanced, EMT II Course Requirements

The first requirement is become an EMT I. EMT II is the advanced EMT and the last step that is needed before becoming a paramedic. The courses for this grade of EMT are usually about 1,000 hours in length. This is a pretty exciting level of healthcare. You are expected to be able to manage IV fluids, advanced airway devices, and you may be expected to administer some forms of medication. You will learn all of these skills during your 1,000 hour program. The care on-scene is advanced.

You work in conjunction with an Emergency Room and under the instruction of an Emergency Room Doctor. You will learn how to communicate information and how to receive instructions via radio. You will also be responsible for caring for the patient between the sight and the Emergency Room. As you can see, the difference between an EMT I and an EMT II is significant. The resource to obtain this level of licensure is complete within the lectures of the class room and experience that you gain as an intern on an ambulance.

According to the UCLA Center for Prehospital Care, a Paramedic has completed EMT I and EMT II training. The program length is about 1,200-1,800 hours depending upon the program and state requirements. Usually, at a community college level, the successful paramedic graduates with an Associate’s degree. The program can take 2-3 years to complete.

EMT, EMT II, and Paramedic are all exciting career choices. They have low barriers to entry and do not always require a college degree. The programs can be impacted so better qualified candidates can jump to the head of the line by preparing for entry in to these programs at a community college. Psychology, Anatomy and Physiology, Medical Terminology, and Communication classes are all important aspects of these jobs, even though they are not specifically required.

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