The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists an expected 11% increase in available EMT jobs, around 20,000 per year through 2030.
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are some of the most important members of the medical field because they are usually first on the scene to provide care. It can be dangerous at times and requires a level of skill to handle various hazards and injuries. However, it’s also a rewarding career for many.
If you’re interested in joining the field, you need to know how to become an EMT. Read on for a step-by-step guide on becoming an EMT.
The first step in becoming an EMT is learning your state’s requirements through the local EMS agency. Though each state’s minimums vary, there are some general requirements to expect in most areas, including:
Most states also require completion of an EMT course or program before applying for certification.
EMT courses and training can take up to three years, depending on how specialized you hope to become. Many technical and vocational schools, community colleges, and some universities offer basic EMT programs that take several months to complete. Advanced programs last up to three years but prepare you for more advanced roles.
Most EMT programs involve coursework and multiple ambulance ride-alongs to give you real-world experience. Look for EMT training programs that include internships and hands-on training.
Though there are some exceptions in certain states, typically you can be a basic, intermediate, or advanced EMT.
Even if you ultimately want to become a paramedic, it’s possible to start as a basic EMT and work your way up.
Once you complete the prerequisites and training program, you can register for the certification exam. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians handles these exams to certify EMTs for each state.
To sit for the exam, individuals need to have at least 20 hours of education divided between five areas:
Applicants must submit proof that they meet the requirements for the exam. Additionally, there is a non-refundable application fee to take the exam. The cognitive exam has a two-hour time limit and consists of 70 to 120 questions.
Additionally, you must take a psychomotor exam to demonstrate competence with various skills, like handling a cardiac arrest or setting a bone fracture. Your educational institution may offer the exam, or you can find a location through the State EMS office.
Prospective EMTs need to pass a background check before applying for certification. It’s typically a fingerprint background check that goes through local offices and the Department of Justice. Expect to pay an additional fee to have the background check done.
The final step in becoming an EMT is securing your certification or license. Gather all of your documentation and submit them to your State EMS office for review. Note that several states offer various licensing levels, so you must identify the one you qualify for to avoid a denial.
EMTs usually need to recertify every two years. Each state has individual guidelines for recertification, but it typically requires continuing education, another exam, or a combination of both.
Be careful about keeping the certification current. Allowing it to lapse may require more time away from the job. You might have to complete additional coursework and retake the cognitive and psychomotor exams.
With your certifications and background checks in line, you can apply for a job. Make sure you highlight all work experience and educational accolades that can set you apart from the competition.
One of the key reasons to become an EMT is the impressive job outlook. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists an expected 11% increase in available jobs, around 20,000 per year through 2030. Additionally, the site lists the average annual salary as holding steady at around $36,650 per year as of May 2020.
Additionally, EMTs are positioned to advance within the medical field. Continuing education options open the door to advance to a paramedic position or transition into other areas within the field.
Now you know how to become an EMT. It’s the perfect time to start your journey to a rewarding and challenging career.