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How to Become an Emergency Care Attendant

Learn how to become an emergency care attendant. Research the job duties and the education and licensing requirements, and find out how to start a career in emergency care.

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Do I Want to Be an Emergency Care Attendant?

Also referred to as emergency medical technicians (EMTs), these professionals are trained and licensed to provide medical services during emergencies. They assist in pre-hospital situations and in transporting patients to hospitals. Precautions must be taken when dealing with exposure to possibly infectious conditions.

Job Requirements

With a high school diploma and a CPR certification, aspiring emergency attendants can pursue a postsecondary program that usually takes about one year to complete and that offers certification. Licensure may be a part of that certification, but some states also require passing an exam to earn the license.

The table below outlines the requirements to become an emergency care attendant, via the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Common Requirements
Degree Level None required
Licensure or Certification Certification for EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and Paramedic; licensing requirements differ by state
Key Skills Excellent interpersonal and listening skills, physical strength, communication skills
Technical Skills Use of common emergency medical equipment, including that used to monitor vital signs, immobilize patients for transport and administer CPR

Step 1: Earn High School Diploma

A high school diploma is often necessary to begin a career as an emergency care attendant. Without a high school diploma the individual may not be qualified to begin emergency medical training.

Success Tip:

  • Obtain CPR training. CPR is usually required prior to entering an emergency medical services (EMS) training program, although some programs include it as part of their curriculum.

Step 2: Complete Emergency Medical Services Training

There are three options for emergency care attendant training: EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and Paramedic. EMT-Basic training prepares the individual to manage patient emergencies, use emergency equipment and assess patient needs. Along with coursework, these programs may include on-the-job training that allows students to work in an emergency unit or ambulance.

EMT-Intermediate training varies but usually requires approximately 1,000 hours of training. This program concentrates on more advanced techniques and equipment, such as that used in the field to keep airways clear and administer intravenous fluids as well as some medications. Paramedic level is the highest form of training for an EMT and requires the completion of EMT-Basic and EMT-Intermediate training prior to beginning a paramedic program. Courses focus on advanced medical skills. Training can be completed in one to two years and can earn graduates an associate's degree.

Step 3: Pass Certification Exam

At the end of training the individual is required to pass a certification exam before beginning work. The examination is administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) and includes both written and practical components.

Step 4: Acquire a License

It is a requirement in all 50 states that emergency care attendants are licensed EMTs. Although acquiring a license is mandatory, the licensing process and job titles vary by state. Many states only require passing the NREMT exam to qualify for licensing, while others might have their own licensing exams.

Success Tip:

  • Maintain licensing qualifications. Renewing one's license is necessary every two to three years. To maintain industry standards in the field, individuals should take continuing education classes as well as additional training sessions.
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