How to Become an Ambulance Technician in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become an ambulance technician. Learn about the educational requirements, job duties, employment outlook and salary information to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does An Ambulance Technician Do?

Ambulance technicians are EMTs or paramedics assigned to an ambulance. They play a very crucial role as they are often some of the first responders to emergency medical situations. When they arrive on scene, they immediately make decisions regarding the state of the injured, provide the appropriate treatment, and prepare them for transport to the hospital. They may often have to deal with frantic family and friends, so they should be able to maintain a calm demeanor when providing care and communicating important information to the family. The table below provides an overview for this career:

Education Required Associate's degree OR training program certificate
Key Responsibilities Assess patient condition, provide initial medical care, transport patients
Licensure & Certification State license, CPR certification
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 24% (emergency medical technicians & paramedics)
Median Salary (2015)* $31,980 (emergency medical technicians & paramedics)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is an Ambulance Technician?

As an ambulance technician, you're part of the ambulance crew as either an emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic. You provide immediate medical attention to sick or injured individuals and transport the patient to a medical facility. Upon arrival at the scene, you need to assess the situation and make fast decisions about what care to provide.

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

To prepare for this career while in high school, you should focus on science, mathematics and health classes - particularly those that introduce you to human anatomy and medical fundamentals. You should also take classes that can help you learn to communicate effectively and efficiently. Ambulance technicians need to be physically fit, so you could consider participating in athletics at your school or within your community.

Step 2: Choose a Training Track

To work as an ambulance technician, you can attend a training program to become either an EMT or a paramedic. The three levels of emergency medical service are EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and Paramedic. EMT-Basic training programs typically result in a certificate and take less than a year to complete, while paramedic training programs typically result in an associate's degree after two years of study.

Step 3: Complete Training

During basic training, you learn to assess the patient's condition and handle basic emergencies, including cardiac arrest, respiratory programs and simple trauma. At the intermediate level, you learn to operate airway devices, administer intravenous fluids and dispense some medications. If you choose to complete a paramedic training program, you learn more complex procedures like intubations.

Step 4: Get Certified

When you have completed an EMT training program, you are eligible to seek certification. All states require ambulance technicians to become certified. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians is the most widely recognized certification organization, though a few states offer their own certification exams (www.nremt.org). You must pass the cognitive and psychomotor test to obtain certification at each level and apply for recertification - usually every two years.

Step 5: Find a Job

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), you may find the best opportunities with private ambulance companies (www.bls.gov). Government, fire or police departments also employ ambulance technicians. You may have the advantage in the job market with advanced training, such as paramedic certification.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Firefighting and police work are both similar careers to that of an ambulance technician because they also call for individuals who can react quickly in emergency situations, provide basic first-aid care, and are calm under pressure. For those who are interested in a more medically-inclined job, they could pursue additional education to become physician's assistants or registered nurses.

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