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How to Become an EMT

Not all medical careers fit inside the walls of a hospital. One of the most vital roles played in the field is that of an EMT, or Emergency Medical Technician. By becoming an EMT, you will have a chance to work in an exciting environment that changes and challenges you mentally, physically and emotionally every single day.

Emergency Medical Technicians are known as “first responders.” They are often the very first person to interact with a patient throughout the course of treatment. EMTs ride and work in ambulances or helicopters, picking up patients from the scene of the illness and transporting them to treatment facilities. Often the timing is critical, as these patients have suffered an emergency medical condition, and after becoming an EMT you must have the skills and dedication to handle the stress and responsibility of acting quickly and accurately. EMT training includes life saving procedures, such as CPR. From delivering babies to resuscitation, a day in the life of an EMT can present one medical emergency after another.

By becoming an EMT, you will enter the fast paced world of 24 hour emergency care. You will work with other professionals, from police to doctors, to help assess and treat patients.  You are also responsible for checking and maintaining your emergency equipment, and in some cases, following up by reporting diseases and the like. EMTs will also sometimes help transport patients in non-emergency situations.  Often your workload is over 40 hours, in many types of conditions.

EMT Training

You must have your high school diploma or GED to even begin training for EMT certification. There are several possible levels of EMT Training. They are:

  1. First Responder
  2. EMT-Basic
  3.  EMT-Intermediate 1985
  4. EMT-Intermediate 1999
  5. Paramedic

Certification for EMTs is mandatory in all 50 states. Renewal is also a common requirement every few years. At each level of EMT training, there are a set of skills and knowledge required, which advance as you go through the ranks. Credit hours range from 30 to over 300. The highest rank of Emergency Medical Technician is Paramedic. These highly skilled medical workers can perform more advanced procedures such as intubation. Each state has its own certification requirements. EMT training courses combine time on the job with classroom instruction. The final exam comes from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT), which also has final approval for certification. Those who choose to do their training at a community college or other similar institution can earn a two year Associate’s degree.The meat and potatoes of an EMT training course will cover everything from life saving procedures to staying calm and in control of an emergency medical situation.

EMT Salary

The salary of an EMT is calculated based upon hourly wages. Most earn between $11.00 and $18.00 per hour, with the highest earning up to $23.00 per hour. This means that the average yearly salary of an EMT will be from $26,000-$39,000. EMT salaries  tend to be higher in most major cities, where they can be anywhere from $40,000- $50,000, with opportunities for bonuses. EMT salaries can also vary according to the nature of the work and the work environment.

EMT Certification Test

EMT certification tests are administered by the NREMT and are multiple choice computer based exams. If the computer records that a tester will most likely not pass, the exam is automatically ended. You must then take the exam again in two weeks. Results appear quickly on NREMT’s website. All testing procedures can be reviewed and registration completed at

Job growth is looking good for those in the EMT and paramedic fields. Jobs will continue to grow over the next few years, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is in part due to the need for patient transport to specialized facilities in the safe and medically equipped environment of an ambulance or similar vehicle. The other reason for growth comes from the turnover rate among current EMTs.

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