EMT Basic: Educational Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an EMT-Basic. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensure to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) at the Basic level perform fundamental lifesaving techniques on patients in emergency situations, such as accidents or injuries. An EMT-Basic training program provides an entry-level education for these emergency medical care professionals. After completing EMT-Basic training, candidates must pass an exam to become certified as EMTs; they also need to earn state licensure.

Required Education EMT-Basic training program
Licensure and CertificationState license and national certification required
Job Growth (2012-2022)*23% for all EMTs and paramedics
Median Salary (2013)* $31,270 for all EMTs and paramedics

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements for EMT-Basics

Background Information

EMTs-Basic are health care professionals who respond to medical emergencies where individuals are unable to make it to the hospital and need immediate care. For example, emergency medical technicians help elderly people who injure themselves in their homes and individuals who are injured in a car accident. EMTs attempt to stabilize patients before they reach a hospital.

Training Prerequisites

All students preparing to enter an EMT-Basic training program, also known as EMT-1, must be at least 17 years old and have a high school diploma or its equivalent. Mathematics or reading test assessments may be required for entry. Some programs mandate that students have a CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certification, and have received specific shots like the Hepatitis B vaccination.

EMT Basic Training Program

A basic emergency medical technician training program can usually be completed in 3-12 weeks. The training consists of classroom and physical skills learning. EMTs must respond to situations, such as heart attacks and car accidents, and their physical and mental alertness is crucial to their job performance. As such, course work includes:

  • Respiratory management
  • Trauma scenarios
  • Cardiac emergencies
  • Patient assessment

Additionally, students learn the functionality and importance of basic medical equipment that EMTs use on the job. Students are trained to check patient vital signs and use immobilization boards, suction mounts, breathing assistance devices and splints.

Upon completing this first level of training, students can advance to other levels of training such as EMT-2/EMT-3 and EMT-4/Paramedic. Each subsequent level of training provides students with more knowledge and broader skills. Acquiring advanced training will better their lifesaving abilities and improve potential job prospects.

Licensing and Certification

In order to become a practicing emergency medical technician, students need to become nationally certified. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians offers EMS certification for all levels (www.nremt.org). The EMT basic certification exams test a student's psychomotor (physical) skills and cognitive abilities. Students who pass both exams retain EMT certification for 2-3 years, and must complete continuing education or retake the certification exam in order to maintain their credentials.

EMTs also need to be licensed by the state in which they work. Licensure requirements vary by state, but holding NREMT certification is typically the most important requirement. Candidates may also need to pass a state licensure exam.

Career and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates a 23% job growth for EMTs and paramedics in the 2012-2022 decade, which is much faster than average. They earned median wages of $31,270 annually in 2013, according to the BLS.

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