5 Steps to Becoming an Emergency Room Technician

Research what it takes to become an emergency room technician. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Emergency room technicians are specialized EMTs who work in hospitals. The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Postsecondary non-degree award
Key Responsibilities Assessing patients
Transporting patients and/or specimens
Perform basic procedures (draw blood, insert catheters, resuscitation)
Licensure/Certification Required Licensure required, specifications vary by state
Job Outlook (2012-2022) 23%*
Average Salary (2014) $35,110*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What is an Emergency Room Technician?

An emergency room technician is someone who has undergone emergency medical technician (EMT) training, but works in an emergency room rather than on an ambulance in the field. As an emergency room technician, you will work under the direction of a registered nurse, providing care to emergency patients. Some of the duties you perform may include assessing patients, transporting patients and specimens between units, communicating with patients and their families, resuscitating patients as necessary, drawing blood and monitoring patients. With additional certifications, you may perform additional duties, such as inserting catheters and nasogastric tubes.

Step 1: Earn a Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Providers Card

Some EMT-Basic programs require that you earn a BLS for Healthcare Providers card as a prerequisite. The American Heart Association offers the BLS Healthcare Provider course. While enrolled in this 4.5-hour course, you will receive training in performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), using an automated external defibrillator (AED) and relieving choking (www.americanheart.org).

Step 2: Complete an EMT-Basic Training Program

The minimum level of education required for emergency room technicians is the completion of an EMT-Basic program. While enrolled in an EMT-Basic program, you will learn to manage cardiac, respiratory and trauma emergencies. Part of your training includes classroom instruction in anatomy and physiology, medical terminology and patient assessment. You'll also study emergency childbirth, bleeding control, spinal immobilization and shock management. You may also be required to gain experience working on an ambulance and in a hospital. Your program can take anywhere from three weeks to a full semester to complete.

Step 3: Earn a License

After completing your EMT-Basic program, you must earn a license. Although each state maintains its own licensure requirements, most require that you pass an examination administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Other states may administer their own licensure exams. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most states require that you participate in continuing education to renew your license (www.bls.gov).

Step 4: Gain Experience as an EMT-Basic

Some employers require that you have experience working as an EMT-Basic before you may work in an emergency department as an emergency room technician. As an EMT-Basic, you will travel to the scenes of emergencies in an ambulance with a partner. You will assess and stabilize patients on the scene and then transport them to a hospital or other medical facility.

Step 5: Consider Additional Training and Certifications

Some employers require or prefer that you have certification in one or more specialized skills, such as arrhythmia recognition, catheter insertion or nasogastric tube insertion. You may also want to consider completing a paramedic program because doing so may allow you to advance your career as an emergency room technician. These programs, which can take up to two years to complete, provide training in patient assessment, critical care, pharmacology, pathophysiology and advanced cardiovascular life support (ACLS). You will then need to complete your state's licensure requirements for paramedics.

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