Emergency Medical Technicians: Career Overview
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) provide urgent medical care to patients while onsite and when transporting them to a medical facility. There are two different EMT certifications that allow you to work as an EMT at different levels and perform different medical tasks. The second level requires more education than the first. So, the exact emergency medical training and classroom hours that are required to become an EMT will depend on the level you want to pursue.
How Long Does It Take?
As noted, different EMT levels will take you a different amount of time to receive the certification. The first level, EMT, is about 120 hours of training. It takes about 3-11 weeks to complete, depending the course itself and the school you're receiving the training from. The second level, advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT) training, takes approximately 30-350 hours of training in addition to EMT training. And those who wish to be a paramedic will need to take 6-24 months of additional training and schooling.
Mandatory EMT Training
There are certain set-in-stone requirements EMTs must meet to receive national EMT certification.
The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) requires you to complete a state-approved EMT course that also meets NREMT standards. When you're choosing an EMT school and course, make sure it is NREMT and state-approved.
To begin EMT training, you must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or GED. EMT training courses are designed to give students the skills and knowledge they need to perform the basic emergency medical tasks and procedures to patients in need. When learning how to become an EMT at the basic level, students are taught how to use emergency-based medical equipment, such as neck immobilizers, splints, gauze, and suction mounts.
Typical training includes:
- Learning the ins and outs of emergency response procedures
- Trauma care through scenarios
- Respiratory systems training
- Patient health assessment
- Cardiac training
Courses will cover anatomy, medical terminology, management of hazardous materials, ambulance operations, and many more basic topics.
AEMT training has the same prerequisites as EMT. However, you will learn more intensive emergency medical tasks and procedures, such as how to operate and administer IVs, learn about airway management, learn how to administer emergency medication, and learn how to provide advanced patient assessment. Students must take courses in geriatrics, pharmacology, physiology, human anatomy, intravenous (IV) administration and care, pediatrics, cardiac care, trauma, advanced ambulance operation, and patient medical documentation.
The more advanced coursework will give you a fuller and more expanded range of practical medical techniques. Courses include cardiac evaluation, administration of medication, and advanced airway management, including defibrillation. You will learn how to provide advanced emergency care as it relates to trauma, breathing, and airways, i.e., how to place a tube into the windpipe for breathing purposes, as well as how to read EKGs.
EMT: To receive EMT certification, you must pass a state-approved psychomotor test and the national NREMT certification exam.
AEMT: To receive AEMT certification, you must finish a psychomotor and cognitive test. The cognitive exam requires full competency in advanced EMS care, including but not limited to trauma, cardiology, airway management, pediatrics, and obstetrics.