How Can I Earn an EMT Basic License?

If you would like to actively save people's lives during medical emergencies and are physically active and emotionally stable, you might consider becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT). If you already have great communication skills, a clean criminal record and a current cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification, then earning an emergency medical technician-basic license, or EMT-B, is the logical next step. Continue reading to discover how you might earn this credential. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

EMT-Basic License and EMT Career Overview

EMTs are often the first line of medical response on an emergency scene after serious injury or illness has occurred. EMTs are expected to provide crucial (often lifesaving) aid while also helping to transport their patients to nearby hospitals or medical centers for more treatment. Earning EMT-Basic certification is an excellent way to enter the emergency response field and begin working as an EMT.

Important Facts About EMT Careers

Required Education High school diploma (or equivalent), CPR certification, and completion of a postsecondary education program
Key Skills Professionalism and focus, interpersonal skills, physically fit, listening skills
Similar Professions Physician assistants, paramedics, registered nurses, police officers, firefighters
Work Environment Indoor and outdoor settings, during odd hours and through variable weather
Possible exposure to contagious infections or injury, but this can be minimized by following proper safety protocol

Education and Preparation for the EMT-Basic License

The EMT-Basic designation is considered the entry-level class of emergency medical technician positions. You'll need to complete an EMT-Basic course to qualify for licensure. Community and vocational colleges offer courses and certificate programs that you might consider. Training at a state-approved and accredited institution might allow you to build self-confidence and develop relevant skills by working in a team-oriented setting, learning to drive a transport vehicle and documenting patient assessment information. The United States Department of Transportation ( has set a National Standard Curriculum for EMT-Basic programs, which includes the following core modules:

  • Preparatory
  • Airway
  • Patient assessment
  • Medical and behavioral emergencies
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Trauma
  • Infants and children
  • Operations
  • Advanced airway

Licensure Requirements

In order to sit for the national registry examination, you must be at least 18 years old, pass an approved EMT-Basic program within the last two years and hold a valid cardiopulmonary resuscitation credential. A clean criminal record may be required of you in some states, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (

The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (, the certifying agent in the U.S., includes cognitive and psychomotor registry examination components in the certification process that most states use to credential EMTs. Each test is independent. The EMT-B certification is valid for 2-3 years depending on when it was issued, and it can be renewed by either taking a re-certification examination or completing continuing education credits. Refresher courses are available at state-approved learning institutions.

In addition to passing the cognitive and psychomotor exams, prospective EMT-Basics must submit an application for a state-issued license.

Job Duties

As an EMT-Basic, you'll be one of the first to respond to an emergency, assess and stabilize the sick and injured and to provide pre-hospital care for trauma, cardiac and respiratory emergencies. With this license, you might qualify for employment with ambulance companies, fire departments or hospitals. In this capacity, you could help manage crises until additional help arrives. It is important to note that this license does not qualify you to administer medications or perform advanced life saving procedures.

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for all emergency medical technicians and paramedics, including EMT-Basics, would increase by 24% from 2014-2024. This same group was reported to have earned a median annual salary of $31,700 in May 2014. As you advance in your career, you may progress to more rigorous levels of emergency response. For instance, there are programs designed to prepare you for EMT-Intermediate and paramedic positions.

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