How Can I Get My EMT License?

To become a licensed emergency medical technician (EMT), you'll need to complete a training program, which you can find at several community colleges and vocational schools as well as through your state health department. Programs range from basic EMT instruction to paramedic training. Keep reading to learn how to obtain your EMT license. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

EMT Job Overview

EMTs are usually the first medical professionals to respond to an emergency, trauma or life-threatening situation. As an EMT, you could report to car accidents, homes, businesses or any other location where people have been injured. Usually arriving via ambulance, you'll perform life-saving measures, like CPR to treat those who are hurt. You'll also be responsible for safely transporting those who need further medical attention to a hospital, and you must be prepared to communicate with the hospital staff about the victim's situation and any treatment they received before arriving at the hospital.

As an EMT, you should be able to make quick decisions, employ sound judgment and be familiar with medical terminologies and procedures. You can also expect to work with a partner. You'll need to communicate with a wide variety of people on a day-to-day basis, often in hectic situations.

Important Facts About EMTs

Work Environment Hospital, fire house, in the field
Similar Occupations Air traffic controller, fire fighter, police officer
Projected Job Growth (2016-2026) 15% (for EMTs and paramedics)
Median Salary (2018) $34,320 (for EMTs and paramedics)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training, Licensure and Certification Requirements

You can attend an academic training program to obtain a degree, diploma or certificate as an EMT. A high school diploma or GED certificate, as well as training in CPR, are usually prerequisites. EMT certificate and diploma programs can last as little as a single semester. Associate degree programs with EMT courses usually also include advanced EMT and paramedic training and can take up to two years to complete. Each state regulates the type and extent of the training you'll need to obtain an EMT license.

Educational Programs

Basic EMT programs provide classes that teach you about medical procedures, treatment, terms and equipment. You will learn how to treat broken bones, bleeding injuries and blocked airways. Some schools offer separate intermediate and advanced EMT programs, while others incorporate the training into a paramedic program. Paramedic training includes more advanced coursework in medical terminology, anatomy and physiology. Both EMT and paramedic programs often include rotations at hospitals, fire stations and other emergency medical facilities to give you practical experience with trained, certified professionals.

EMT Licensure

Although each state determines its specific requirements for an EMT license, you'll usually need to complete some form of formal education or training to become eligible. Unlike certification, licensure is granted by the state. You'll need to pass an exam to earn your license, and many states offer multiple types of EMT licenses, depending on where you work or the type of services you're allowed to perform. Qualifications for licensure can include passing a background check, submitting health records and showing proof of sufficient training and experience. Certification through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) could be accepted in lieu of state license exams or as preliminary verification of your competence.

Some states require that you complete continuing education and pay a fee to maintain your license. If you move to another state, you could transfer your license, though you might need to offer a demonstration of your competency in EMT procedures.

NREMT Certification

Though you'll need to be licensed to work as an EMT, certification might be required or considered voluntary. The NREMT offers certification options at basic, intermediate and advanced EMT levels as well as paramedic certification. To earn certification at both the EMT and paramedic levels, you'll need to pass one or more exams. Recertification follows the same requirements as renewing a license, such as continuing education, updated CPR certification and current employment as an EMT (

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