Krista Wenz Authored By: Krista Wenz
How to Become an EMT

An EMT, or emergency medical technician, is an essential professional in the health care system. EMTs are responsible for responding and applying quick medical attention, usually for medical emergencies, traumatic injuries, or accidents. We will review how to become an EMT in our guide below.

A couple of different EMT requirements need to be met before becoming an EMT. While the requirements aren’t the most challenging, they will take some time and effort to complete. 

Becoming an EMT can be a very rewarding experience and career. Review the requirements to become an EMT below.

EMT stands for emergency medical technician. EMTs are trained to respond and think quickly in emergency medical situations - specifically medical emergencies, traumatic injuries, and accident scenes. 

Many EMTs are found working in an ambulance and are often employed by private ambulance services, governments, hospitals, fire departments, and police departments. 

Many individuals are firefighter-EMTs or police officer-EMTs. A medical director or a physician supervises emergency medical technicians.

An EMT is usually the first medical professional on the scene, so they must act and think quickly. EMTs are trained in emergency medical knowledge and skills that can be implemented within a fast time frame. The main goals when an EMT intervenes include:

  • Rapidly evaluate a patient's condition
  • Maintain patient's airway
  • Maintain patient's breathing
  • Maintain patient's circulation
  • Control patient's external bleeding
  • Prevent patient from going into shock
  • Prevent further injury while transporting the patient

See Our Top Recommended EMT Prep Course

  1. BoostPrep EMT Prep Course - Best for Practice Questions

One common misconception about EMT requirements is that you need an associate or bachelor's degree. However, this is not the case. You do not need an associate or bachelor’s degree.

In your journey to becoming an EMT, the following requirements will need to be met.

1. Complete Basic Education Requirements

To become an EMT, you will need to have your high school diploma or GED, equivalent to a high school diploma. If you do not have this, it is recommended that you earn your GED.

2. Be CPR Certified

Many EMT training programs require applicants to be CPR certified. You can complete this EMT requirement either online or in person through organizations like the American Red Cross. This is a valuable skill and can come in handy even if you do not plan to become an EMT.

3. Complete a State-Approved EMT Program

Students should attend an accredited program to complete their education. You can review accredited programs here. These programs can take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years to complete. These programs are usually offered by community colleges, technical colleges, or state-sponsored programs.

4. Pass the Cognitive Exam

The Cognitive exam is given by the National Registry of Emergency Technicians (NREMT). It consists of 70-120 questions. There are 5 different categories of questions you will be tested on. You can review questions using our EMT practice tests. You can review our guide to the EMT test for more information on that exam.

5. Pass the Psychomotor Exam

The Psychomotor exam is given out on a state level. The test is hands-on, with different skills being tested. You can learn more about this exam in our guide to the EMT test.

After completing the above EMT requirements, you will be a certified EMT and can apply for a job as an EMT in your state. Now that you know how to become an EMT let’s review some of the skills an EMT should have.

To be successful, an EMT should possess the following skills and talents: 

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • Good communicator
  • A strong stomach
  • Physically fit
  • Calm under pressure

What does an EMT do?

Emergency medical technicians are a vital part of the health care system. An EMT provides pre-hospital (out of hospital) emergency care and transportation for individuals. EMTs have the skills and knowledge to stabilize and transport patients.

What is the fastest way to become an EMT?

The fastest way to become an EMT is by obtaining your high school diploma or GED. Once you have that, get your CPR certification. After getting CPR certified, enroll in a state-approved EMT program – these are typically 6 months to 3 years. After completing your EMT program, pass your EMT tests.

What does EMT stand for?

EMT stands for emergency medical technician.

Is it worth becoming an EMT?

Becoming an EMT can be a very rewarding experience and career path. You will be put in situations to help save lives and people in need.

The compensation for EMTs varies by state. You can learn more about EMT salaries with our guide.

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