Are you interested in working in the medical field? Have you ruled out the option of becoming a doctor and now think that perhaps you would enjoy working as an emergency medical technician or as a paramedic? As a paramedic you will likely work to transport and transfer patients and to assess the patient’s injury or illness to establish necessary medical procedures that must be performed. You should also expect to apply artificial respiration to patients, to administer oxygen, to provide advanced life support techniques, to start and administer intravenous fluids, to dispense antiseptic solutions that will prevent infection, and to perform any other necessary emergency medical procedures. However, if you work as an EMS you will be responding to emergency calls, assessing the situation, and providing medical care at the scene and during transit to the hospital. Each of these positions will require that you can handle making quick, effective medical decisions that will best serve the patient. Find schools below that offer EMT training classes.
Emergency Medical Technician Schools
To become a paramedic you will have the choice to complete a training program or to complete an associate’s degree program. It is important to note that before you can be admitted into a paramedic degree program you must first have obtained an EMT certification and licensure. Your paramedic training program will consist of classroom instruction courses (such as chemistry, anatomy and physiology, biology, and psychology) and practical training in the field. You will be expected to complete numerous medical procedure credentials like: advanced life support provider, advanced cardiac life support provider, and advanced neonatal resuscitation provider. In order to become an emergency medical technician (EMT) you will need to complete three educational levels that will consist of coursework and on the job training. First, you will complete a basic EMT course that will teach you about pre-hospital procedures, how to manage an emergency, and how to use basic medical equipment. Next you will be required to complete an intermediate level EMT course. Within this level you can expect to be required to complete classes in anatomy and physiology, biology, and advanced emergency topics. This course may also require you to complete up to 350 hours of training. Take a few minutes and peruse the site in search of schools that particularly appeal to you. Request a free information packet from any of the schools that you may be interested in, which can surely help you make a more informed educational decision about your career path. Research other healthcare and nursing careers on our main page. It is most common for EMTs and paramedics to work in venues like ambulance services, fire stations, or police departments. In addition, some hospitals may employ individuals who have formal training in these areas.
Are you looking to become an EMT? Emergency Medical Technician, or EMT, is a position that is projected by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow by about 24 percent between 2014 and 2024, making it one of the fastest growing occupations in the country. The entire health industry will grow with the aging of the general population, and increased spending in healthcare means more facilities and more places in which EMTs can be employed. The field of emergency medicine is relatively young in the field of health sciences, and the role of emergency medical technician had its start in the early 1970s in response to the staggering data collected in the 1960s about highway accidents and preventable death. Emergency Medical Technicians work under the supervision of a medical director, who is also a physician, to respond to emergency medical situations, like car crashes, heart attacks, natural disasters, acts of violence, and strokes. Most work in ambulances and are employed by private ambulance services, hospitals, local governments, police departments, and fire departments. There are four levels of emergency medical services: Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT), and Paramedic. We will cover all four levels and the differences between them below. There are three levels of EMT training and they are: EMT – Basic Training (EMT-B), EMT – Intermediate Training, and EMT- Paramedic Training.
Individuals who are hoping to become EMTs are compassionate and able to deal with the stress of helping someone that may be in a life-threatening situation or suffering from extreme mental distress. It is also a benefit to be physically fit as you may need to perform certain activities many times, such as lifting, bending, or kneeling in order to care for and move patients. People who hope to become emergency medical technicians should also have great critical thinking and interpersonal skills, as the job will require a person to make fast decisions that may save someone's life, and to listen closely to patients to determine the best method for treatment. Nearly 1 in 3 EMTs worked more than 40 hours a week in 2014 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and they are often asked to work on call in case of emergency, resulting in many night and weekend shifts, oftentimes in longer than average shifts of as much as 12-24 hours at a time. If this sounds like you, then read this article to find out how to get started! We'll go over the education required to become an emergency medical technician, the certifications required at the national and state level, and the different levels of being an emergency medical technician.
Education Requirements for Being an EMS
While the scope of medical services that an EMS provides is limited, it still takes some practice and a healthy dose of knowledge. Therefore, everyone who enters the field as an emergency medical technician must pass EMS basic (EMT-B) training. From there, you can specialize and earn advanced certifications in order to perform more duties, become eligible for more advanced careers, and make more money. This can be done several different ways. You can earn a certificate or diploma through a program, earn an associate's degree, earn a bachelor's degree, or acquire the knowledge through an online course. No matter which path you take to get there, the ultimate goal is to acquire an understanding of the material well enough to pass the national or state exam and prove you have the prerequisite knowledge to perform on the job. We'll discuss each option a bit more below.
• Certificate or Diploma programs – Certificate or diploma programs are perfect for people who want to get into the workforce quickly and start making money. It is entirely possible to become an emergency medical technician with a certification and eventually become a paramedic without earning a degree, but it may take you longer than someone with an associate's degree to reach this level. Any type of advancement with a certificate is limited, unless you choose to continue your education and earn other certifications or a degree. When an opening comes up for a manager or an administrative role, those with degrees are going to get preferential treatment in most cases. While a certificate program is easily the fastest way into the profession, it's worth noting that your potential salary may be better if you go on to earn your associate's degree. You also will receive less supervised training than someone with an associate's or bachelor's degree, so you may have trouble landing the most competitive positions.
These programs are typically taught at community colleges or, sometimes, in fire departments and other emergency medical service providers. During these programs, students often get hands-on training with the various tools of the profession, learn valuable physical skills, and receive classroom learning. Topics that are covered in these kind of programs include: airway maintenance, management of trauma in patients, infant and child health, administration of medicines like aspirin and glucose, and semi-automatic defibrillation. Courses taught in these programs would have titles such as: Emergency Care, Clinicals, Intro to Emergency Medical Care, The Human Body, Lifting and Moving Patients, Detailed Physical Exam, or Documentation. The certificate program can usually be completed in less than a year, though there is some variance as the required training and necessary credit hours varies state by state. Programs are typically modeled after the rules and regulations laid out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as this is the agency that administers the certification tests. An EMT certificate program typically costs between $1,000 - $2,000, but this may vary depending on the type of institution you attend and where you are located.
• Associates of Applied Science in Emergency Medical Services – A degree program will better prepare you for a management role in the field than a certification program. You will also have the potential to make more money in any given role because you have received more supervised training and classroom learning. However, be prepared to complete general education courses along with your EMT courses, such as courses in subjects like English, math, and social sciences. While degree programs are available in emergency medical services, a degree in health sciences would give you a more general base of knowledge should you choose to change your mind about your career a few years down the road. Many associate's degree programs are aimed towards educating you for the certification exam required to become a paramedic, meaning you will be more than qualified for the position of emergency medical technician, since not every graduate will immediately land a job as a paramedic. While it may take a bit longer, earning your degree will put you on track to advance into a number of rewarding careers that are more difficult to obtain with a certificate. If you have already earned your certificate, consider pursuing an associate's degree as your next step in education for all of the reasons listed above.
Most of these programs are available through accredited educational institutions, like community colleges. An associate's degree will take you two years to complete, though there may be some accelerated programs available in your area that can get you through in one year with an accelerated, concentrated course load. An associate's degree in emergency medical services or emergency medical technology will offer you knowledge on a healthy variety of topics, such as: emergency medical equipment, patient assessments, nasal intubation, trauma treatment, airway maintenance, public speaking, and psychology. Most courses are taught in a classroom or seminar setting, but many will require a clinical near the end meant for you to demonstrate the mental and physical skills you have learned during the course under the supervision of a certified professional. Courses taught in associate's degree programs for emergency medical technicians would have titles like: Rescue Operations, Anatomy and Physiology, Oral Communication, Pyschology, Intro to Cardiology, Pharmacology, and Obstetrics. An associate's degree will cost anywhere from $3,000-$7,000, depending on the school where you choose to study and the length of the program, among many other factors. Some technical schools may offer more flexible schedule, but usually charge more for tuition, around $11,000-$15,000 for the whole program. Individuals who earn an associate's degree typically cover the material in all three levels of certification: EMT – Basic Training (EMT-B), EMT – Intermediate Training, and EMT – Paramedic Training. We will cover all three below.
• Bachelors of Science in Emergency Medical Services – Perhaps best suited for those that have the goal of working in administration, bachelor's degree programs offer up a plethora of advanced knowledge and additional skills. These degree programs may be more focused on planning and development of emergency medical services programs, risk management, and the regulatory side of emergency medical services. Because the industry will look to grow so rapidly in the next decade or so, pursuing such an advanced degree in this field may be desirable as positions in management and administration will be more abundant in the near future. These longer programs can prove quite costly, but they offer a level of specialization not available in other degree or certification courses. While you will certainly be qualified to be a paramedic upon graduation, you should have your eye on top-level executive positions within the field. Becoming a paramedic is usually the first step upon graduation, and you can enjoy the benefits of higher pay as you land the most competitive jobs with one of the most advanced degrees in the field. The extra attention and hours of supervised coursework will make you a highly sought after employee.
You can earn your Bachelor of Science in Emergency Medical Services at major four-year institutions, like colleges and universities. Bachelor's degree programs typically take four years to complete, but may be completed sooner if the student has credits earned in high school that are accepted at the college. A bachelor's degree in emergency medical services or emergency medical technology will cover a wide variety of topics, and you will have access to many advanced courses in niche topics. Courses included in a bachelor's degree program will have titles such as: Human Biology, Intro to Pscyhology, Intro to Sociology, Physiology, Special Patient Populations, Critical Care, and Intro to Anthropology. A bachelor's degree program can cost between $10,000 - $35,000 per year, which makes this program the most expensive option on this list by far. However, the advancement opportunities will more than make up for this added cost in the long run. Also, earning a bachelor's degree can land you many jobs in other fields because it proves you have the ability to balance tough work with the daily tasks of living.
Individuals who earn a bachelor's degree typically cover the material in all three levels of certification: EMT – Basic Training (EMT-B), EMT – Intermediate Training, and EMT – Paramedic Training. We will cover all three below.
• Online degree courses – While there are some online degrees and certifications available, these can be quite rare because of the hands-on nature of the work involved with becoming an emergency medical technician. While it may be possible to do any required reading or learn essential facts and skills from the comfort on of your home and on your own time, you will need supervised experience in the field in order to become eligible to pass the test for certification. Online degree courses may be more suite to people already in the field who would like to learn more and increase their chances of advancement. For instance, learning about laws, regulations, and the theories of administration is possible to do from home.
On paper, there are three levels of certification in the field of emergency medical technicians. There is EMT – Basic Training (EMT-B), EMT – Intermediate Training, and EMT – Paramedic Training. However, there are actually two levels of certification in the Intermediate Training stage. Each level teaches different skills and qualifies you for different positions in the field of emergency medical services. We'll discuss the differences below!
• EMT – Basic Training (EMT-B) – As the name implies, these are the basic skills and knowledge needed to become an emergency medical technician. The training at this level requires roughly 100 hours in emergency situations, such as major accidents, natural disasters, or cardiac and respiratory events. However, this number can vary based on state requirements and regulations. There is a national standard, as outlined in the National Emergency Medical Services Education Standards set forth by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and most programs adhere to these standards unless the standards set forth by their state are more stringent. Typical topics covered at this level of training are trauma management, blood stoppage, lifting and moving patients, airway management, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and semi-automatic defibrillation. Every level of EMT must complete this level of training first.
• EMT – Intermediate Training – The focus here is on the function and operation of life support systems in order to care for traumatized or injured patients. There are two levels of intermediate training, called EMT – Intermediate 1985 and EMT – Intermediate 1999. The difference between the two is that the first, developed in 1985, uses more invasive techniques than an EMT-B, but not as advanced as an EMT – Intermediate 1999. The latter can perform most procedures that a paramedic and perform. Specifically, they can perform complicated procedures like endotracheal intubation and nasogastric intubation. During this certification, students learn how to administer certain medications, properly administer intravenous treatment, and care for more advanced forms of trauma. Many programs require internships in order to complete these levels of certification. Earning an EMT certification at the intermediate level requires anywhere from 30 to 350 hours of classroom instruction and clinicals, depending on the state's regulations.
• EMT – Paramedic Training – This is the highest level of emergency medical technician training, and takes up to two years to complete, usually resulting in an associate's degree. Field training and clinicals are a large part of this program, but students will also learn advanced first aid techniques during hands-on training in emergency rooms and ambulances. An EMT – Paramedic Training certification requires 1,000 hours or more in coursework and field experience. It is by far the most demanding certification level, but also the most rewarding in terms of potential monetary compensation.
• National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians Exams – No matter which route you go to achieve your certifications, the ultimate test of your understanding will be the certification exams administered by the National Registry of Emergency Technicians (NREMT). Although a few states still hold their own exams, this is the test in most states that an individual must pass I order to become officially certified and employable in the field. This is a multiple-choice test with four possible answers, written by a panel of 10-20 EMS professionals. These tests usually cost $80 and may be taken again if after 14 days if they are not passed the first time.
Emergencies are highly stressful situations. It takes a team of talented and dedicated professionals to respond quickly and make the correct decisions to administer the maximum amount of health care. There are many different roles within the industry, but we will examine the four major roles: Emergency Medical Responder (EMR), Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT), and Paramedic.
• Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) – This level of emergency medical technician requires the least amount of formal education and, thus, has the most limited scope of ability of the bunch. As you might be able to tell from the title, these individuals are certified to administer medical treatment outside of a medical facility in the case of an emergency. EMRs serve a support role to EMTs and paramedics when they eventually arrive on scene. EMRs can perform tasks such as controlling bleeding, taking and monitoring vital signs, and performing cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. As you can imagine, someone with this certification does not administer emergency care as a part of their daily job. Rather, they are simply the first responder on scene before an EMT or paramedic arrives.
• Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) - These are the individuals described in this article in great detail, who provide the same basic care as the first responders, but can also perform more complicated tasks like traction splinting, delivering children, and administering medicines such as glucose, aspirin, or nitroglycerin. The average yearly salary of an emergency medical technician is about $33,000 per year, though there is a lot of variance by state and whether they work in an urban or rural area.
• Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) – This is the most likely level to own certification at the EMT – Intermediate levels, whether it be the 1985 version or 1999 version. These individuals are trained experts in advanced life support and complex techniques, though they may lack the skill to perform certain techniques that a paramedic can perform. In events that require critical care or quick decisions to be made on scene, these individuals are often the best to have on hand. They also have authorization to administer stronger medications than a normal EMT.
• Paramedic – Paramedics are the decision makers when they arrive on site. The decision between life and death may be in their hands and they have substantial training to be able to make these judgment calls. Having access to the entire array of medications available to the field of emergency medical services, as well as the knowledge to execute the field's most complicated procedures, paramedics are usually the highest ranking individuals on site for a deadly accident or catastrophic event. The national average salary for a paramedic is about $36,000 per year, though there is a lot of variance state by state and in accordance with the number of years in the field.