How to Become an EMT

How to Become an EMT

EMTs are trained to tackle all kinds of high-pressure scenarios and can even save lives.

If you’re wondering how to become an EMT than you’ve come to the right place. The EMT profession is an incredible career. As an EMT no two days will look alike. Some days will be exciting and rewarding while others will be boring or even difficult.

Either way, the work of EMTs is incredibly important. You can be a part of that important work by following these steps for how to become an EMT.

Explore this Career Guide:

What Does An EMT Do?

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are first responders like police officers and firefighters are. In fact, many firefighters are also EMTs. They respond to emergency calls. The services they provide at an emergency site are primarily medical.

EMTs take care of the sick and injured. They perform lifesaving treatment and help get patients to the hospital. EMTs also help during rescue missions.

  • respond to 911 calls
  • work alongside police and firefighters
  • perform CPR
  • bandage wounds
  • care for the sick and injured
  • drive the ambulance
  • care for patients on route to the hospital
  • clean and maintain the ambulance

There are also different kinds of emergency medical technicians. Each level of EMT operates at a different level of knowledge and skill. Different EMT levels also include different amounts of training, experience, and procedures you’re allowed and trained to perform.

The Different Kinds of EMTs:

  1. EMR
  2. EMT-Basic
  3. EMT-Intermediate or Advanced EMT
  4. Paramedics

EMT Skills

EMTs require many skills. They have to be trained as emergency doctors and prepared to confront an innumerable amount of new, emergency, high-intensity situations.

EMTs often work under a lot of pressure since they primarily work in the emergency and trauma section of the medical field. Because of the nature of an EMTs job they need to be able to keep their calm, handle stressful situations, keep their patients calm, act quickly, and make split-second decisions.

Social Skills

The work of an EMT is a very social job in that they deal with people every day. EMTs also work in very stressful environments for themselves and the people they are helping. They need to be able to effectively talk to and work with others, putting their patients at ease.

Good Listeners

EMTs need to be good listeners in order to successfully work as a team and help their patients. They come into each new situation and need to be able to listen and observe to gather as much information as possible.

Observant

EMTs and paramedics need to pay close attention to the details of emergency scenes. The things they notice can sometimes be paramount in treating the patient or in resolving whatever cases might come up afterward.

The patients they work with can also sometimes have difficulty talking to the paramedics depending on their situation. So EMTs need strong deduction skills to make their own conclusions about what treatment is needed.

Physical Strength and Stamina

The work of EMTs is very physical. They put in long and odd hours and they use their physical strength to help and sometimes rescue their patients from dangerous situations.

Problem Solving Skills

A large part of an EMTs job is coming across new problems every day and using analytical skills and their training to find solutions to these problems. For this reason, EMTs also have to stay updated on the best EMT practices.

How to Become an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR)

Emergency Medical Responders (EMR) are the most basic level of EMT. They do the most basic work. EMRs are trained specifically to do their jobs with as little equipment as possible. This makes them ideal responders for unique emergencies that don’t allow for lots of equipment use.

EMRs also don’t have to be 18 years old to apply and start working as EMRs. If a career in the emergency medical field is something you know you want, you can start even while you’re still in high school.

EMRs perform the following tasks:
  • perform basic medical care
  • work with minimal equipment
  • Be first at the scene

To become an EMR, you have to become certified. The certification process includes completing an EMR course that is approved by the state and the National Emergency Medical Services.

Your program instructor will then have to verify you completed this approved course work on the National Registry website for emergency workers. EMR workers also need to complete this approved course in the past 2 years to get their certification.

Part of becoming officially certified as an EMR will include some tests. You’ll need to pass the EMR cognitive exam, otherwise known as the knowledge exam. Then you’ll also need to pass the state-approved psychomotor exam or the skills exam. These exams will test the knowledge and skills you need to have to operate as an EMR.

On top of this EMRs need to constantly have an up-to-date credential for being a Healthcare Provider. This can also be referred to as a CPR-BLS. This CPR certification needs to always be current and is essential for all emergency workers.

Become an EMR by following these steps:
  1. Become CPR certified
  2. Complete an EMR course that is approved by the state and NEMS
  3. Pass the skills and knowledge exams for EMRs

Part of being an emergency medical technician, in general, is that you’ll need to regularly recertify with the state. This makes sure that your skills and knowledge about being an emergency medical technician are all up-to-date.

How Long is the EMR Exam: 1 hour and 45 minutes

How Many Questions are on the EMR Exam: 90 to 110 questions

How Much Does the EMR Exam Cost: $75

How Much Does the EMR Exam Renewal Fee Cost: $15

How to Become an EMT-Basic

EMT-Basics refer to the most basic level of EMT or entry-level EMTs. EMT-Basics perform the same jobs as any other EMT, but they aren’t trained in as many procedures. They often work in teams and help administer basic medical care to their patients.

Because EMT-Basics have the least amount of training they aren’t equipped to perform any type of invasive procedure, like an endotracheal intubation. But they can do noninvasive medical procedures like controlling bleeding, administering oxygen, or CPR.

EMTs perform the following tasks:
  • respond to emergency calls
  • perform basic medical care
  • work alongside Advanced EMTs

EMTs have to undergo a similar certification process as EMRs. Prospective EMTs must also become CPR certified, complete an EMT course, and pass a skills exam and a knowledge exam. But an EMT’s coursework will include more information and more course hours than that of an EMR.

The course to become an EMT takes anywhere between 120 and 150 hours to complete. EMTs are educated in administering CPR, oxygen, glucose for diabetics, and helping patients with asthma attacks or allergic reactions. It is this level of medical aid that EMTs provide as they bring their patients to a medical facility. EMTs are not trained or permitted to do any procedure that would break the skin.

It’s procedures like this that EMTs will learn in their EMT program. EMTs also have to make sure their program is approved by their state and by the National Emergency Medical Services.

Once they’ve learned all they need to know, EMT students can take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) EMT exam.

EMTs will also need their course instructor to validate their completed coursework on the National Registry website for emergency medical technicians. All of this needs to be done within 2 years of completing their course or they’ll need to retake their course and exams.

Become an EMT by following these steps:
  1. Become CPR certified
  2. Complete an EMT course that is approved by the state and NEMS
  3. Pass the skills and knowledge exams for EMTs

Part of being an emergency medical technician, in general, is that you’ll need to regularly recertify with the state. This makes sure that your skills and knowledge about being an emergency medical technician are all up-to-date.

How Long is the EMT-Basic Exam: 2 hours

How Many Questions are on the EMT-Basic Exam: 70 to 120 questions

How Much Does the EMT-Basic Exam Cost: $80

How Much Does the EMT-Basic Exam Renewal Fee Cost: $20

How to Become an Advanced EMT

Advanced EMTs are the next level in the EMT training scale. Advanced EMTs can also be called EMT-Intermediates. They receive even more training on how to care for patients and how to act in emergency situations. Advanced EMTs have been trained on more medical procedures and can handle things like administering medicines.

EMT-Intermediates are also trained to assess and lead even more emergency scenarios. They can also perform more invasive medical procedures like IV therapy and endotracheal intubations.

Advanced EMTs perform the following tasks:
  • administer IVs
  • administer medicines
  • respond to emergency calls
  • perform advanced medical procedures

Advanced EMTs or AEMTs will need to first undergo the process of becoming an EMT-Basic. Once they are certified and working as EMTs, they can complete a course specifically for AEMTs that is approved by their state and by NEMS.

Once a prospective AEMT has passed their Advanced EMT coursework and training they’ll just need to pass the knowledge and skills test given by the NREMT. During their training, AEMTs will learn all about anatomy, physiology, cardiology, medications, and more advanced emergency medical procedures.

Become an AEMT by following these steps:
  1. Become CPR certified
  2. Become certified as an EMT-Basic
  3. Take an AEMT course
  4. pass the skills and knowledge exams for AEMTs

Part of being an emergency medical technician, in general, is that you’ll need to regularly recertify with the state. This makes sure that your skills and knowledge about being an emergency medical technician are all up-to-date.

How Long is the AEMT Exam: 2 hours and 15 minutes

How Many Questions are on the AEMT Exam: 135 questions

How Much Does the AEMT Exam Cost: $115

How Much Does the AEMT Exam Renewal Fee Cost: $20

How to Become a Paramedic

Paramedics are the most advanced level of EMT. Paramedics have the most training and are able to administer more medical procedures. For example, paramedics are trained on how to use important medical monitors like the electrocardiograms (EKGs).

Since paramedics have the most medical training they can do all kinds of medical procedures like, blood transfusions, applying sutures, and reading x-rays.

Paramedics perform the following tasks:
  • use advanced medical equipment
  • use advanced medical procedures
  • undergo the most medical emergency training

Since paramedics are the most advanced form of EMT they must undergo the most training. Paramedics spend anywhere between 1,200 and 1,800 hours on their coursework. They learn about administering medication, starting intravenous lines, advanced airway management techniques, and how to treat patients with more serious problems like heart attacks and traumas.

To become a paramedic, you’ll need to first become a certified EMT. You can become a basic EMT, or you can become an AEMT as your prerequisite to becoming a paramedic.

The next step is to complete a paramedic course that is approved by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

After they’ve finished their approved paramedic program, prospective paramedics will need to create a psychomotor competency portfolio. This portfolio is a type of practical exam that will demonstrate whether you have the vital skills every paramedic needs. These skills include things like patient assessment, patient trauma, oral station, dynamic cardiology, static cardiology, and out-of-hospital scenarios.

Become a Paramedic by following these steps:
  1. Become CPR certified
  2. Become certified as an EMT-Basic or AEMT
  3. Take a certified Paramedics course
  4. pass the psychomotor competency portfolio exam

Part of being an emergency medical technician, in general, is that you’ll need to regularly recertify with the state. This makes sure that your skills and knowledge about being an emergency medical technician are all up-to-date.

How Long is the Paramedic Exam: 2 hours and 30 minutes

How Many Questions are on the Paramedic Exam: 80 to 150 questions

How Much Does the Paramedic Exam Cost: $125

How Much Does the Paramedic Exam Renewal Fee Cost: $25

How to Become an EMT Driver

Ambulance drivers work for ambulance companies and hospitals. They are trained to operate and drive emergency vehicles. Ambulance drivers often also work as EMTs and paramedics. They might help to administer first aid and transporting patients to and from the emergency vehicle.

Ambulance drivers also need to have specialized driving skills. They have to drive quickly to the scene of an emergency and to get patients to the hospital. But they also have to drive through traffic and navigate busy streets safely.

Ambulance Drivers perform the following tasks:
  • drive emergency vehicles
  • transport patients
  • lift patients
  • help administer necessary first aid

To become an ambulance driver you will first need to get a driver’s license. Your local DMV should have the necessary requirements for ambulance drivers looking to get their driver’s license. Depending on your state, you might have to undergo specific training for driving an emergency vehicle before you can get licensed to drive an ambulance in your state.

Just like EMTs, ambulance drivers will then need to become CPR certified and go through EMT training. Their EMT training will be just like any other Basic EMT and will include a certified program and both a practical and written exam from the NREMT.

Once you have a driver’s license and are a certified EMT, you can start applying for jobs as an ambulance driver. When getting a job as an ambulance driver, you might have to undergo some on-the-job training. This will often include an ambulance/safe driving course that will get you an ambulance driver certificate.

EMT drivers also need to keep a clean driving record. This includes before working as an ambulance driver as well since potential employers might look at your driving record.

Become a Paramedic by following these steps:
  1. Get a driver’s license
  2. Become CPR certified
  3. Become certified as an EMT-Basic, AEMT, or Paramedic

How to Become an EMT Dispatcher

An EMT dispatcher is the one who takes 911 calls and works with Emergency Response Teams to get callers the help they need. They will talk to the 911 caller to get information like their address and current condition and then provide this important information to first responders.

EMT Dispatchers perform the following tasks:
  • answer 911 calls
  • get important information from callers
  • relay necessary information to first responders
  • remain calm on the call
  • classify calls as emergency or non-emergency

EMT dispatchers need a specific kind of training to answer emergency phone calls. Community colleges and vocational schools generally offer training programs for emergency medical dispatchers. These courses have to meet the requirements of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

During an EMD program, you’ll learn about how to handle calls, what needs to be prioritized in each call, and how to give instructions to callers. EMDs might also study medical topics such as anatomy and physiology. A typical EMD course takes 1 week to complete.

Once you’ve completed a basic EMD course you can start working. But if you want to advance your career you can get a certification from the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch. This course will include a final exam consisting of 50 questions that you will have to pass in order to become a National Academies of Emergency Dispatch certified Emergency Dispatcher.

Become an EMT Dispatcher by following these steps:
  1. complete an EMD program approved by the NHTSA
  2. Become certified with the NAED

How Long Does it Take to Become an EMT?

The certification level you want to complete will largely determine how long it takes you to become an EMT. Becoming an EMD only takes 1 week but becoming a paramedic can take anywhere from 6 to 24 months.

How Long Does it Take to Become an EMT-Basic or EMR: 8 to 11 weeks

How Long Does it Take to Become an AEMT: 30 to 350 hours

How Long Does it Take to Become a Paramedic: 6 to 24 months

How Much Does it Cost to Become an EMT?

The cost of EMT school can vary. There is the cost of the course, the cost of any books or materials you might need, and the cost of exams to consider. But in general, the total cost of becoming an EMT is going to range anywhere between $1,000 to $2,000.


Sources


US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “EMTs and Paramedics.”

Learn.org. “What Does an Emergency Medical Technician Do?”

National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians: The Nation’s EMS Certification (nremt.org). “Emergency Medical Responder.”

National CPR Foundation. “BLS for Healthcare Providers Certification Class.”

Study.com. “How to Become an Ambulance Driver: Step-by-Step Career Guide.”

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