EMT 1: Career Summary, Job Outlook and Educational Requirements

Research what it takes to become an EMT 1. Learn about job functions, employment outlook, training requirements, and salary to find out if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does an EMT 1 Do?

An emergency medical technician 1 or EMT-Basic has received the first level of EMT certification. EMT 1's respond to medical emergencies and help transport patients to hospitals, clinics and similar facilities. Unlike paramedics, EMT 1's cannot administer most medicines or utilize risky techniques. They are expected to work efficiently with other first responders to save lives. Typically, you or your partner drives the ambulance while the other sits with the patient and monitors their condition. Once you arrive at the medical facility, you hand over care of your patient to the medical staff and report your treatment and observations.

The following chart gives you an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Training Required Certificate
Key Responsibilities Patient assessment, basic life support, patient transportation
Licensure/Certification Licensure required; CPR certification sometimes required
Job Growth (2014-2024) 24% (for all EMTs and paramedics)*
Average Salary (2015) $35,430 (for all EMTs and paramedics)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What are the Typical Job Functions of an EMT 1?

Like paramedics, EMT 1's are dispatched to the scenes of emergencies in order to assess and stabilize patients and transport them to medical facilities. As an EMT 1, your scope of practice would be more limited than that of a paramedic. You are not allowed to perform advanced life support functions, administer most medications, or perform invasive airway management. Instead, you perform basic life support functions, which include assessing patients, establishing airways, and treating trauma emergencies.

After your patient's condition is under control, you help in transporting them to a hospital or other medical facility. After each run, you must complete thorough documentation, decontaminate the ambulance, and replenish supplies.

What are the Job Prospects?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between 2014 and 2024, employment of all EMTs and paramedics will rise at a much faster-than-average rate of 24%. This increase may be partly attributed to a growing aging population and to an increase in medical facilities that focus on particular conditions.

What Kind of Training Will I Need?

To become an EMT 1, you need to complete an EMT Basic training course, which usually results in a certificate and takes one semester to complete. However, accelerated courses are also available and can last as little as three weeks. In these programs, you learn how to deal with emergency situations, such as heart attacks, childbirth, airway obstruction, emotional problems, bleeding, and shock. You also receive instruction in anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology. Part of your training includes clinical and field experiences in which you are exposed to the many job functions that EMT 1's perform in clinical settings and on ambulances.

Additional requirements that you may need to complete include a criminal background check, physical examination, vaccinations verification, and a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training course. To work as an EMT in the United States, you need to become licensed. Some states administer their own examination, while others require you to complete the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) EMT-Basic certification exam. Depending on the state in which you work, you may need to renew your license every two or three years. You will most likely be required to complete continuing education requirements throughout your career as an EMT 1.

What Are Some Similar Careers?

The most similar career to an EMT 1 would be a paramedic. Paramedics and EMT's have very similar roles, though paramedics are allowed to take more drastic measures in saving a patient's life, such as administering medications and initiating invasive procedures. Paramedics must undergo advanced training and obtain licensure. Firefighters and police officers are also related as first responders, and both of these careers typically require completion of a training academy. Registered nurses (RNs) perform similar duties, though they provide more extensive one-on-one care for patients at hospitals and clinics. RNs can hold either an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree, and they need professional licensure as well.

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