EMT Professions: Overview of Educational Requirements

Oct 20, 2021

In order to become an emergency medical technology professional you'll need to complete an accredited training program. You also must be licensed and certified by the state.

Essential Information

Emergency medical technology professionals provide medical aid to those in need during emergency situations. There are three levels of emergency medical technician (EMT): basic, intermediate and paramedic, with each requiring additional training and certification. All levels of EMTs need to be licensed by the state in which they work and certified to perform their job duties.

Career EMTs and Paramedics
Required Education Completion of an accredited training program
Other Requirements All levels of EMTs need to be licensed and certified by the state in which they work
Projected Job Growth (2019-2029) 6% for emergency medical technicians and paramedics*
Median Salary (May 2019) $35,400 for emergency medical technicians and paramedics*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Educational Requirements for EMT Professions

EMTs are health care professionals who provide treatment to individuals at the scenes of accidents or medical emergencies. There are three levels of emergency medical technician: EMT-1 (basic), EMT-2/EMT-3 (intermediate) and EMT-4/paramedic.

The duties of an emergency medical technician vary depending on the amount of training an individual has received. All EMTs must be at least 18 years old, have a high school education and hold a current CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certification.

Training Program Overviews

All potential emergency medical technicians must complete an accredited training program in order to be eligible to work in the profession. While a basic EMT-1 program can be completed in as few as three weeks, if a student is interested in becoming a paramedic, the training program may last up to two years. Paramedics are the highest level of emergency medical technician, so they provide the most advanced care to patients. Some of their programs can result in students receiving an Associate of Science in Fire Technology or related degree.

Students learn medical care necessities throughout their EMT training. Common EMT training includes the following:

  • Dealing with medical traumas
  • Cardiac emergencies
  • Patient preparation and assessment
  • Taking vital signs
  • Airway and breathing issues
  • Bandaging and splinting styles
  • Use of basic emergency medical equipment

Advanced training in EMT or paramedic programs can include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Advanced patient preparation
  • Patients with special needs
  • Patients on life support
  • Legal and ethical issues

Throughout EMT training, students learn in both classroom environments and through live work experiences. The amount of training hours necessary to complete an EMT-basic program and paramedic training varies greatly. Students may receive as few as 20-30 hours in a level-1 program, while paramedics must complete as many as 1800 or more work hours in advanced programs. These requirements vary by school and state.


All levels of EMTs need to be licensed by the state in which they work and certified to perform their job duties. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) offers professional certification examinations for those who have completed their education, as well as finished the required on-site clinical learning hours associated with their training level (www.nremt.org). Successful completion of these exams may satisfy state licensing requirements.

The NREMT certification exams consist of written and practical testing. The written portions test a student's clinical knowledge, while the practical portions test their skills and abilities in simulated emergency situations. Once a student has successfully received certification they must maintain that certification every 2-3 years, through continuing emergency medical training. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the median salary for EMTs and paramedics was $35,400 (www.bls.gov) in May, 2019. The bureau also notes that jobs for these workers are expected to grow 6% from 2019-2029, a rate which is faster than for most other occupations.

After completing your training and earning your state licensure you're well on your way to becoming an emergency medical technology professional. For this career you'll need to be able to work under pressure, have extensive medical knowledge, think on your feet and use medical technology.

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