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How do I Become an Emergency Medical Technician?

By Ken Black
Updated May 17, 2024
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The process required to become an emergency medical technician (EMT), also known as a paramedic, is specific to where an individual lives or hopes to work. Those who want to become an emergency medical technician need to first choose the geographic area in which they would like to work, and then plan accordingly. Each state has its own requirements for becoming certified, which is why choosing an area ahead of time and meeting those requirements is so important.

The first requirement imposed, in nearly all cases, to become an emergency medical technician is to graduate high school, or at least obtain an equivalent diploma (GED). Those who feel they may be interested in the career when still in high school may find it helpful to take as many science and biology courses as possible. This will provide some of the basic background information that EMT courses will later build upon.

The coursework required to become an emergency medical technician is often offered through local community colleges. Those who are interested may find it helpful to start there. If the college does not offer the required courses, it may be able to direct them to an institution that does. There are usually a couple of semesters of work required. This means those looking at being a paramedic can often get started on the job much sooner than those going into many other types of health care jobs.

The first semester will likely be filled with first responder training. Once completed, the student will be a certified first responder. This course will provide the basic training in emergency medicine, required by all EMTs and firefighters. This may also be enough to begin work as an EMT in some rural areas, especially as a volunteer.

To officially become an emergency medical technician, a second semester of coursework is also required. This semester will focus more on the medical treatment portion of the job. In addition to the first aid and basic life-saving skills learned in the previous semester, the second semester will go into much more detail and provide training on the highly specialized equipment often found in an ambulance. The specifics of this training will vary, however, from one region to the next.

As with many types of medical jobs, the final step is finding a provider and applying for any openings. Larger cities will have many hospitals. and likely more opportunities than rural areas. Of course, there will also be more competition as well. It should be remembered that being an EMT requires ongoing training to keep the certification active. These continuing education credits may be available through the hospital, or through the college where the original training took place.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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