Emergency Medical Technician: Educational Requirements

Oct 20, 2021

Emergency medical technicians provide care for people during emergency medical situations. They must complete a state-approved training program and obtain EMT certification. Job growth for emergency medical technicians is high.

Essential Information

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) have progressive levels of education that provide them with basic emergency skills. These programs involve varying amounts of coursework and include hands-on training. Regardless of the education level, there are licensing and continuing education requirements. Such professionals should work well under stress and be comfortable working with bodily fluids.

Required Education Approved training program(s) at the appropriate EMT level; some programs lead to certificates or associate's degrees
Other Requirements State licensure; most states utilize the exams proctored by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT)
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 6% (Emergency medical technicians and paramedics)*
Median Salary (2019) $35,400 (Emergency medical technicians and paramedics)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Emergency Medical Technician Education

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are the first responders to an accident who provide life-saving care and transport to a hospital. There are three progressive levels of education for EMTs that include coursework and on-the-job training. Prospective EMTs may have to meet prerequisites, such as a high school diploma, age requirement, fitness test and background checks.


The first level of EMT education is EMT-Basic. These programs may be completed in several weeks and teach students pre-hospital procedures like patient assessment and emergency management. Students will become familiar with basic equipment, such as backboards, stretchers and splints. Clinical experience in a hospital and with an ambulance team is also required.


Individuals who hold an EMT-Basic certification may enter an EMT-Intermediate training program, although there may be experience requirements in some states. EMT-Intermediate programs may refresh upon topics included in EMT-Basic training, but will teach advanced emergency topics as well. Courses in biology, anatomy and physiology may be part of the curricula. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the nationally defined EMT-Intermediate levels require 30-350 hours of training, depending on the scope of practice (www.bls.gov).


Paramedic training programs are the most advanced education level and may be offered as an associate's degree program. Paramedic programs require students to earn multiple medical procedure credentials, such as Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Pediatric Advanced Life Support. Associate's degree programs may require significant scientific coursework, including biology, chemistry, anatomy and physiology. Many programs require applicants to be certified EMTs and may prefer those who have experience.

Licensing Information

EMTs and paramedics are required to be licensed in every state. Many states require certification by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, which certifies all three levels of training. The BLS indicates that many states require licenses to be renewed every two or three years in the form of continuing education or refresher courses.

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS stated in May 2019 that EMTs and paramedics earned $35,400 as a median annual wage. For the coming decade of 2019-2029, the BLS predicts a 6% job growth for these professionals.

Emergency medical technicians help save peoples lives by providing care and transportation to a hospital during emergencies. Training varies for EMTs at the basic, intermediate, and paramedic levels, though all positions require level-specific training and certification. Job growth from 2019 to 2029 is projected at 6%, which is faster than the average for many occupations.

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