How Long Is EMT School?

Find out about the training and courses needed to become an EMT. Learn how long it takes to complete a training program, what material is covered, and more by reading below. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Kind of Training Must EMTs Undergo?

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) provide the first line of medical care in crisis situations, stabilizing the sick and injured to help transport them to hospitals and other facilities where they can receive more advanced care. While the exact details of EMT training can vary from state to state, a national certification program exists which helps to unify the programs and ensure certain key information is a part of each state's curriculum. EMT courses typically take about four months to complete, or one semester if through a university or community college, and will usually include some form of patient care experience through ride-alongs on ambulances in addition to classroom study and practice. Accelerated four week courses are also available in some states. EMT courses are often treated as college-level, so a good academic history is important. After completing a course, students must pass the national certification exam, and then apply for licensure in their state in order to work as an EMT.

Program Length 4 month typical duration including extensive classroom work and practical training
Requirements 18 years old, CPR/AED certified, up to date on vaccinations, state and federal background checks
Topics Covered Stabilizing patients, administering medication, monitoring vitals, basic diagnosis
Certification Required EMT certification through NREMT and state licensure
Other Related Programs Advanced EMT training, paramedic degree programs

What Are the Requirements to Enter EMT School?

Those wishing to train as EMTs must be at least 18 years old, and in some states must already have completed a course on basic life support, including how to perform CPR and use Automated Electric Defibrillators (AED). State and federal background checks are also frequently required before contact with patients is allowed. Certain vaccinations, such as that for hepatitis B, are also mandated or strongly encouraged, for the safety of both patients and EMTs in training. Courses which take place through universities or community colleges may also look to see that students have met all necessary admissions standards, such as proof of a high school diploma or equivalent. Regular access to computers to perform classwork and transportation to access off-site training, such as ride-alongs, is also often an informal requirement.

What Topics Do EMT Courses Cover?

EMT training programs must teach a large amount of information on patient care in a fairly short period of time, so courses are densely packed. While the program may or may not be split into formal classes with credit hours, etc., all programs will teach topics such as stabilizing patients, identifying injuries, monitoring patient vitals, and transporting them safely. Students will learn how to use medical tools, administer medication, and the basics of triage. State certification requirements are likely to influence the exact curriculum, so be sure any programs you consider signing up for are recognized by your state's health or emergency services department.

What Is Involved in Obtaining National EMT Certification?

Many states require that students who have completed EMT training programs take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certification exam before receiving a license to work in the state. This exam consists of two parts--a cognitive exam, which will have between 70 and 120 questions and must be answered within two hours, and a psychomotor exam, which serves to demonstrate competency with a variety of medical techniques by demonstrating them before instructors or other professionals authorized to perform the exam. The cognitive exam is administered by the NREMT, and is similar for everyone across the country, while the psychomotor exam is, by necessity, administered locally according to the state's emergency services office. After passing both exams, you will need to provide proof of your certification to the state's licensing board in order to work. Continuing education courses are also required to maintain NREMT certification.

What Are Some Related Programs Those Interested in Becoming EMTs Might Want to Know About?

EMT certification comes in different levels; those who have completed EMT training and received certification may be interested in obtaining higher certifications, such as the Advanced EMT or AEMT. AEMTs are capable of providing a higher level of care than EMTs, but perform many of the same duties and often work in ambulances as well. Another option is to become certified as a paramedic. These professionals are authorized to perform more complex, higher level procedures than even AEMTs, but often take longer to train, as programs can be at the associate's degree level. While it is necessary to be certified as an EMT before becoming an AEMT or paramedic, it is not necessary to be an AEMT before receiving certification as a paramedic.

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