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What is the Required Training to
Become an EMT or Paramedic?

As the elderly population grows, and with more specialized care hospitals are built, the job market is continuously growing for healthcare professionals, especially paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

Research Schools and Requirements

The first step to becoming an EMT or paramedic is to research which schools have the appropriate courses and degree programs available. Many technical schools and community colleges offer courses from basic training as well as associate and bachelor’s degrees in emergency medical services. Earning a bachelor’s degree can allow for more opportunities to becoming a healthcare administrator or manager.

Along with university requirements, states also have requirements students must meet before becoming a certified EMT or paramedic.

While researching, consider the university’s requirements and prerequisites before making a decision. Most universities have a list of requirements for students before they can be accepted into the program. Along with university requirements, states also have requirements students must meet before becoming a certified EMT or paramedic. These may include but are not limited to:

  • Age limits: Most states require prospective EMTs and paramedics to be at least 18 years old before enrolling in training.
  • Background checks: Background checks are common in the healthcare field and potential employers might check for a criminal history.
  • CPR certification: Some universities will require students to have CPR certification before entering their EMT program. Others will have CPR training as part of the course.
  • Medical exams: Students might be asked for proof of immunization and evidence of a recent physical exam.

The median annual pay for both EMTs and paramedics is approximately $32,000.

Complete Basic Training

To become a paramedic, students must first go through basic EMT training. The basic training programs typically fall between 120 to 150 hours and may take students anywhere from six months to two years to complete. The basic courses covers the fundamentals that later paramedic course and degree programs will build upon as the student progresses.

Fundamentals include:

  • Assessing patient needs and their necessary care
  • Assistant treatment for  allergic reactions or asthma attacks
  • Bandaging patients
  • Managing patient airways
  • Medical terminology familiarity
  • Performing CPR
  • Stabilizing patients
  • Transporting patients

As an EMT-basic (sometimes referred to as EMT-B or EMT-1) students will alternate between classroom coursework and lectures and hands-on field experience. Students will become familiar with and work directly with administering emergency care to patients in an ambulance, artificial breathing equipment and common medications. Some basic EMT training programs offer experience with real patients, allowing students to ride in an ambulance and watch EMTs work in real-world situations.

Register as a Certified EMT

learn about our EMS degreesAfter completing their EMT-basic program, students must take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) test to become certified. The test covers both written and practical applications commonly used in the field. Students have three chances to pass the test, including a 15-day wait in between each attempt, before they undergo re-training programs. After a student passes and becomes certified, they must take the test every two years to keep their certification.

After certification, students can choose to continue their training and become an advanced EMT (AEMT), also known as an intermediate EMT. Advanced EMT courses usually require around 300 hours. Students continue to build upon the fundamentals taught in the basic program, but cover more in-depth topics (including pharmacology) and work with complex machinery like electrocardiogram (EKG) machines to track a patient's heartbeat. Students can also take the NREMT test again to become a certified advanced EMT instead of a basic EMT.

Train to be a Certified Paramedic

The next step to becoming a certified paramedic is further education. Paramedic courses delve deeper into patient care and can take between 1,200 to 1,800 hours to complete.

Students training to be paramedics become familiar with anatomy and physiology and have a deeper understanding of pharmacology and emergency medications. Paramedics learn about advanced emergency care for patients, including:

  • Assessing patients with cardiac emergencies
  • Assessing patients with different kinds of trauma
  • Caring for patients with burns
  • Treating the elderly and infants
  • Understanding pharmaceutical terminology and administering advanced emergency medications

The median annual salary for paramedics is approximately $55,000. With an associate degree, paramedics can make informed decisions based on their increased training and field experience. If students complete a bachelor's degree, their opportunities to advance their careers into healthcare administrators or managers are greater. Some students may even enroll in medical school or train to become physician assistants.

It's the training and quick- thinking of the paramedics and the EMTs in the ambulance that save lives and as the market continues to grow for healthcare professionals, paramedics and EMTs are needed everywhere.