Steps to Becoming an EMT in California

Get the facts about what you'll need to achieve in order to become an EMT in the state of California. Find out more about the required training, the examinations, certifications, and income to help you determine if this is the right career and work location for you. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information at a Glance

Emergency medical technicians, commonly referred to as EMTs, are responsible for caring for injured patients that have been involved in medical emergencies. They are tasked with determining a patient's condition and providing safe and accurate medical care in an efficient manner. In the table below, you'll find the education and certification requirements, projected job growth, and mean income for EMTs in the state of California.

Education Required California state-approved training program
Certification California EMT state certification; requires passing scores on the NREMT
Projected Job Growth (2016-2026) 15% (national average for EMTs and paramedics)*
Mean Income (2017) $36,370 (for EMTs and paramedics in the state of California)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Type of Training Is Required?

The first step towards becoming an EMT in the state of California is to complete an EMT training program that is approved by the state. These programs teach students the Basic Life Support (BLS) standards for healthcare providers across a variety of fields. Students learn how to quickly and effectively respond to emergency situations such as medical distress, injuries, or accidents. These training programs are designed to equip students with the knowledge on how to stabilize and transport patients when faced with these scenarios. The prerequisites for registering to a state-approved training program include possessing a high school diploma, a valid identification card, and a basic CPR certification card, passing a background check, and providing proof of immunization records.

What Exam Do I Need To Pass?

After completing a state-approved training program, an individual must pass the National Registry for Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) cognitive and psychomotor exams. The NREMT exams are used to determine a candidate's ability to make effective and safe decisions in emergency settings. The cognitive exam tests an individual's knowledge of EMT fundamentals in five core areas including airway/respiration/ventilation, cardiology/resuscitation, trauma, medical/obstetrics/gynecology, and general EMS operations. The psychomotor exam tests a candidate's ability to perform a variety of skills, including AED use/cardiac arrest management, trauma, medical patient treatment, and spinal cord immobilization techniques, among others.

How Do I Apply for My Certification?

Once an individual has passed the necessary NREMT exams, they must apply for certification through a local California EMS agency. In the state of California, this process includes paying a processing fee and undergoing an additional background check using the agency's provided form. Once the background check is approved and any other additional requirements have been sorted, the California agency will provide the candidate with an EMT number from the State Central Registry. Individuals will also receive an EMT card. It is not until an individual has obtained their EMT number and card that they can be considered a certified EMT in California.

What Is the Certificate Validity and Recertification Process?

EMT certifications are valid for two years in the state of California. The recertification process can be completed in two different ways, either by completing 40 hours of continuing education courses or by passing a recertification exam course. The continuing education courses include three components: national, state, and individually approved courses that cover a multitude of topics and are taken through both in-class settings and through online modules. The recertification exam allows individuals to prove that they still retain their cognitive EMT knowledge and that continuing education courses are not required.

What Is Working as an EMT Like?

EMTs play a vital role in a larger emergency medical response team working for hospitals and fire departments. Because emergencies can happen at any time of the day or night, EMTs are often required to work overnight and weekend shifts. It is common for EMTs to work long shifts, anywhere between 12 to 24 hours a few times a week. In California, EMTs earned an annual mean income of $36,370. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of EMTs across the country is projected to increase as a result of a growing and aging population.

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