How to Get EMT Certified: Overview
All emergency medical technicians (EMT) must be licensed, although each state has its own specific requirements. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) provides certification standards that are applicable in most locations. Some states provide their own examinations, while others use the NREMT tests.
Typically, EMT-Basic training includes at least 130 hours' worth of classroom and emergency medical experience, which can be completed in 2-4 months. EMT-Paramedic training is more extensive, requiring at least 1,200 hours or about two years of work. Individuals enrolled in a paramedic training program may also have the option to complete an associate's degree program in conjunction with their training. In addition to online coursework, each of these programs requires on-site clinical training in hospital and ambulance settings. Applicants must have CPR or life support certification, and they may be required to submit health and immunization documentation.
Accredited Online EMT Training Programs
Are you wondering how to get EMT certified and if there is EMT certification near you? EMT certification cannot be completed 100% online. However, those willing to go on-site for portions of the practical training can take EMT training online. Due to the nature of distance learning, an accredited online EMT course is often most suitable to those who have already completed a certification program and are looking for renewal, individuals with a healthcare background or students with high motivation and strong discipline.
EMT certification online may be partially obtained through hybrid EMT training, which is available from community colleges and some four-year universities. To be eligible for enrollment in an EMT school online, prospective students may have to submit documentation regarding their health status, immunizations and valid CPR or basic life support certification.
Online EMT Courses
Like traditional on-campus programs, distance learning EMT training focuses on the technical, safety and ethical issues involved in being an emergency responder. Though not necessarily required, some schools recommend that students complete classes in areas like anatomy before enrolling to help them be prepared for the coursework. Students in a hybrid EMT program learn about specific medical conditions and how to handle them, in addition to the following:
- Medical terminology
- Anatomy and human development
- Safety protocols
- EMS systems
- Patient assessment
- Emergency responses to specific populations (children, the elderly and those with special needs)
- Oxygenation and ventilation
Online & On-Site Components
For initial EMT-Basic or EMT-Paramedic training, some programs provide Web-based instruction through lectures by streaming audio and video, PowerPoint presentation, discussion board participation and self-conducted examinations.
On top of the EMT training online, students need to attend weekly skill sessions and complete clinical time in an ambulance or hospital environment. Practical skills that cannot be learned online may include patient assessment, administering oxygen and bandaging.
Work Place Skills for EMTs
While EMTs need to be proficient in many technical areas, they must also possess several important skills that are needed in their work place. The work environment of an EMT is fast-moving and often unpredictable. Some of the skills that an EMT needs include:
- Communication skills - An EMT needs to be able to communicate clearly and precisely with other members of the team, including those at the local emergency room where patients are transported. The EMT needs to help them prepare for the patient's arrival by giving them accurate observations about the patient's condition.
- Problem-solving skills - The field, which is the place where an EMT responds to a call of distress, is not already set up for a shift to begin as would often be the case in a hospital. EMTs often find disorder and chaos at the scene when they respond and must have good problem-solving skills to make some order out of this chaos.
- Adaptation skills - EMTs come to work each day or night not knowing what sorts of situations they will witness as they respond to emergency calls. They could be responding to anything from a bar fight injury, to an elderly person who fell, to a baby who has stopped breathing. Regardless of the situation, they must be able to remain calm and adapt, while responding appropriately.
- Interviewing skills - EMTs must be able to get accurate historical information from the patients they serve. Questioning and observation are both skills that EMTs must have as they sort their way through a situation.
Certification and License Renewal Requirements
To be eligible for NREMT certification, candidates must finish an approved training program and pass a written and practical exam. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, other common requirements for state licensure include being at least 18 years old and having a clean criminal background check (www.bls.gov).
Most states require license renewal after two or three years. EMT-Basic and EMT-Paramedic refresher courses are available online for EMTs looking to brush up on their skills. Online courses are also available for Continuing Education Units (CEUs) that can count toward license renewal.
Hybrid EMT training programs provide a blend of EMT classes online, which is provided through a virtual classroom, and on-site practical training, which gives them real-world emergency response experience, so that graduates are ready to take state licensure exams. Depending on the student's previous education, these programs are offered at several different levels.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Life of an EMT
Those who are interested in becoming an EMT commonly ask a few important questions about what it's actually like to be on the job. The daily life of an EMT is pretty unpredictable, but some of the questions about it that are often asked include:
- Is this a dangerous job? - The job of an EMT can certainly be dangerous at times. EMTs respond to situations in which there are those who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and they may be carrying weapons. Some patients may be combative or mentally ill. Responding to motor vehicle accidents can involve work alongside the road which is dangerous due to cars speeding by. The hours may be demanding and can involve shift work, so the EMT may be working when tired and stressed.
- Who employs EMTs? - EMTs may be employed by many different local government agencies, like the fire department, or may work for ambulance companies or hospitals. They may also be employed by private businesses like resorts or as part of security for a large corporation. An EMT may even work on a cruise ship.
- Is the coursework difficult? - In most cases, the coursework for becoming an EMT is not nearly as difficult as the job itself, and the real challenges begin once the new EMT is out working in the field. However, prospective EMTs may sometimes not pass the NREMT test on their first try. Candidates are allowed to attempt to take the test three times. If all three attempts result in failure, then remedial training is required.
Salary, Growth Opportunities and Job Outlook for EMTs
Those who decide to become EMTs must love the work or simply must want the experience, because no one becomes wealthy working as an EMT. The financial compensation for this job is very low when considering the risks that EMTs sometimes take and the stress that is often involved.
|Required Education||Post-secondary classroom training|
|Licensing||Must Meet Individual State Requirements|
|Projected Job Growth (2019-2029)*||6% (faster than average)|
|Median Salary (2019)*||$35,400|
Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics
Nearly all EMTs work full-time hours, and since the job outlook is good, the job of an EMT is secure. As the baby boomer generation ages, the number of age-related health emergencies increases, as does the need for skilled EMTs.