How to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

How to become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

Emergency Medical Technicians, also known as EMTs, are essential to the safety of our communities. More often than not, they are the first to arrive on the scene of an accident or injury. 

EMTs save countless lives every year, making sure people can safely get transported from the scene of an accident to an emergency room and placed in the care of doctors. To do this they require skills that come with specialized training.

Think you have what it takes to save lives? Here’s what you need to know if you want to become an EMT.

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What is an EMT?

Emergency Medical Technicians are first responders to 911 calls and medical emergencies. These individuals are able to perform under extreme pressure while making quick and calculated decisions to help people in medical emergencies and safely transport them to hospitals.

How much can EMTs make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average salary for EMTs is just over $34,000 per year or about $16.50/hr. 

However, in some states and areas where the cost of living is higher, the starting pay can be higher to reflect that.

What do you need to become an EMT?

Generally, you have to be at least 18 to apply for an EMT or paramedic position. You must have also completed high school or have your GED. 

You will also need to complete some training and exams when going through the process before you are officially certified. Here is the list of requirements all applicants must complete:

CPR Training:

The American Heart Associate (AHA) and American Red Cross are two main organizations that offer CPR Training. You should check their websites for local classes, as this is the first requirement in your journey to completing the EMT requirements.


Postsecondary Emergency Medical Technology Program: 

The next step is completing a postsecondary emergency medical technology program. These programs range from less than 1 year to 2 years in length and are offered at many community colleges. 


In this program, you will spend around 150 hours with instructors in both hospital and ambulance environments. The instructors will train students and develop skills ranging from evaluating different medical conditions, managing trauma and utilizing different medical equipment.


National or State Certification Exam:

State certification is required to become an EMT, this can be accomplished through a state-specific exam (only recognized by a few states) or the more widely accepted NREMT exam. This test has 2 components; a psychomotor exam where you demonstrate your competence in emergency care skills, and the cognitive exam which is a computer test ranging from 70-120 questions. 

There are only 6 attempts allowed to pass the test with a 15 day waiting period after you have received your results before reattempting.

Advanced Training

Once you have completed the basics and have become an EMT, there’s additional training and education that you can enroll in that can further advance your career. With additional training, certifications, and experience, EMTs also earn more income. Here are the two main educational programs to further your EMT career:

 Advanced EMT Training (Optional): 

The advanced EMT program requires training courses that range in 150-200 hours of field work and often come with internship rotation requirements. These rotations will place trainees in emergency room and emergency services agency environments. 


The training should also set candidates up for preparation of their Advanced EMT Exam. Similar to the NREMT exam, this also has the psychomotor and cognitive exam portions but you will be tested on having advanced knowledge and experience.

2-Year Degree Program: 

Associates Degrees in emergency care training are another step for EMT’s to advance their career. Typical programs in this field are physiology, anatomy, and advanced life-support techniques.


Being an EMT comes with a high level of responsibility and commitment. These are a group of first responders directly responsible for giving medical care in the field and being able to make quick, calculated decisions to help save lives. 

With the education and training outlined above, it’s easy to see how much dedication it requires to become an EMT and how important their role is in our communities across the nation.