EMT Training - Paramedic & EMT Schools

When the unforeseen happens and help is needed immediately, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are available to help. We rely on them to be there when we call 911, to arrive quickly, and to have the education and cool-headedness to handle the most stressful emergency medical situations. However, little thought is given to the training that goes into becoming part of this essential medical team.

A career as an EMT begins with emergency medical technician training. Most programs only require that students be 18 years of age with either a high school diploma or a GED. EMT courses can take a few months, depending on the school and schedule, and include both classroom and practical instruction on the basics of anatomy, trauma care, and emergency management. At the end of the training, new EMTs are eligible to take the exam given by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Upon passing the exam, candidates are awarded a nationally recognized certification.

The demand for EMTs is expected to grow by 6 percent between 2019 and 2029, making now an ideal time to think about pursuing training in this fast-paced career (BLS 2020). Further, many EMTs find that they love patient care and use their experience in an ambulance as a stepping stone to other medical careers.

Keep reading to learn more about what it takes to become an EMT.

EMT fast facts
Projected Jobs Created17,000
Projected Job Growth6%
Average Salary$38,830
Low Salary$23,490
High Salary$59,860
Entry-Level EDU Certification
Sourced from BLS, March 2021

EMT Degree & Certification Programs

Although specific qualifications may vary somewhat from state to state, at minimum prospective EMTs will have to complete a certification course covering basic life support skills. These courses generally take around 120 to 150 hours to complete. EMT certification courses include training in CPR, hazardous material handling, and observation or ride alongs with working EMTs. A completed course is a prerequisite for sitting for the EMT certification exam, which will qualify incoming EMTs for entry-level work.

In some states, there are multiple EMT training levels, including EMT-1 (also referred to as EMT Basics) and EMT Intermediates, followed by Paramedics. For many EMTs, an EMT certification is just the first step towards a career in medicine. Most educational institutions that offer EMT training also offer courses for paramedics, though these programs are much longer and more intensive. In fact, many paramedics training courses have EMT certification as a prerequisite for enrollment.

Many institutions around the country offer EMT certification courses. Students should ensure their EMT program meets the educational requirements for NREMT or is approved by their state emergency medical services. This information should be available directly through the program. On the other hand, paramedic programs should be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) to be eligible to sit for certification exams. The accreditation process will be covered later in this article. Following is a selection of schools and organizations that offer NREMT-approved EMT training programs.

  • California State University, Sacramento: At Sacramento State, EMT students spend nine weeks studying the basics of emergency care in both a classroom and lab setting. Upon completing the course, students will be CPR certified through the American Heart Association and earn certifications for hazardous material handling and Federal Emergency Management incident command.

  • Front Range Community College: With campuses offering EMT courses in Boulder, Larimer, and Westminster, Colorado, the Front Range Community College EMT program is an excellent choice for anyone living in that state. The program, which requires 12 credits to complete, specifically prepares students to work in the fast-paced environment of emergency medicine, whether their career leads them to a job with an ambulance service, in a hospital, with a fire department, or eventually as a nurse or doctor in an emergency department. Front Range also offers a Pre-Paramedic track that goes beyond its EMT training to prepare students for a paramedic course.

  • Broward College: The one-semester applied technology program for EMTs at Broward prepares students for entry-level work in emergency medicine. Students who wish to pursue further education will find this program to be a good fit as they can transition directly on to the paramedic certificate program and from there to the associate in emergency medical services. The EMT program is offered in the evenings to allow working professionals the opportunity to complete their studies without having to quit their jobs. The programs are taught as cohorts allowing students the chance to build relationships and learn to work in a group.

  • Center for Emergency Medicine of Western PA: At CEM in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, EMT students receive training to “meet the increasing demands of out-of-hospital care.” EMT students are prepared for the Pennsylvania Department of Health Emergency Medical Technician certification and also have the opportunity for CPR certification as well as national EMT certification. CEM also offers CPR training for non-EMTs and paramedic courses for those ready to pursue a more rigorous emergency life support career.

List of E M T Schools

Filter by state :
School City State Website grads (2018)
North Seattle College Seattle Washington www.northseattle.edu 221
College of Lake County Grayslake Illinois www.clcillinois.edu 201
City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X College Chicago Illinois www.ccc.edu/colleges/malcolm-x 178
Sinclair Community College Dayton Ohio www.sinclair.edu 141
Pierce College-Fort Steilacoom Lakewood Washington www.pierce.ctc.edu 138
Mountainland Technical College Lehi Utah mtec.edu 130
University of Antelope Valley Lancaster California www.uav.edu 129
Illinois Central College East Peoria Illinois icc.edu 102
Waubonsee Community College Sugar Grove Illinois www.waubonsee.edu 100
Apollo Career Center Lima Ohio www.apollocareercenter.com/adult-education 99
Clovis Community College Clovis New Mexico www.clovis.edu 84
Elgin Community College Elgin Illinois www.elgin.edu 81
Century College White Bear Lake Minnesota www.century.edu 74
Kansas City Kansas Community College Kansas City Kansas www.kckcc.edu 70
Bridgerland Technical College Logan Utah www.btech.edu 67
William Rainey Harper College Palatine Illinois www.harpercollege.edu 63
Heartland Community College Normal Illinois www.heartland.edu 60
McHenry County College Crystal Lake Illinois www.mchenry.edu 57
Parkland College Champaign Illinois www.parkland.edu 56
Bristol Community College Fall River Massachusetts www.bristolcc.edu 54
Davis Technical College Kaysville Utah www.davistech.edu 51
Bellingham Technical College Bellingham Washington www.btc.edu 48
Dixie Technical College Saint George Utah www.dixietech.edu 47
Mahoning County Career and Technical Center Canfield Ohio mahoningctc.com/adult 46
Inver Hills Community College Inver Grove Heights Minnesota www.inverhills.edu 46
Lewis and Clark Community College Godfrey Illinois www.lc.edu 45
Barton County Community College Great Bend Kansas www.bartonccc.edu 44
Columbia Basin College Pasco Washington www.columbiabasin.edu 43
Southwest Technical College Cedar City Utah stech.edu 43
Dixie State University Saint George Utah dixie.edu 42
Cowley County Community College Arkansas City Kansas www.cowley.edu 41
Highland Community College Highland Kansas www.highlandcc.edu 41
Kishwaukee College Malta Illinois www.kish.edu 35
Fort Scott Community College Fort Scott Kansas www.fortscott.edu 33
Peninsula College Port Angeles Washington www.pencol.edu 31
Riverside County Office of Education-School of Career Education Indio California www.riversidesce.org 30
Prairie State College Chicago Heights Illinois www.prairiestate.edu 28
University of Arkansas Community College-Hope Hope Arkansas www.uacch.edu 28
Frontier Community College Fairfield Illinois www.iecc.edu 26
Orange Technical College-Mid Florida Campus Orlando Florida www.orangetechcollege.net 26
Coffeyville Community College Coffeyville Kansas www.coffeyville.edu 25
Warren County Career Center Lebanon Ohio www.mywccc.org 22
Mt. Diablo Adult Education-Mt. Diablo USD Concord California mdae.mdusd.org 20
Clark College Vancouver Washington www.clark.edu 19
Flint Hills Technical College Emporia Kansas www.fhtc.edu 19
Salina Area Technical College Salina Kansas www.salinatech.edu 19
Butler Community College El Dorado Kansas www.butlercc.edu 18
Massachusetts Bay Community College Wellesley Hills Massachusetts www.massbay.edu 17
Walla Walla Community College Walla Walla Washington www.wwcc.edu 17
Hennepin Technical College Brooklyn Park Minnesota www.hennepintech.edu 16
Centralia College Centralia Washington www.centralia.edu 15
Kellogg Community College Battle Creek Michigan www.kellogg.edu 15
Wenatchee Valley College Wenatchee Washington www.wvc.edu 15
EHOVE Career Center Milan Ohio www.ehove.net 14
Ivy Tech Community College Indianapolis Indiana www.ivytech.edu 12
Tulsa Community College Tulsa Oklahoma www.tulsacc.edu 11
Lamar Community College Lamar Colorado www.lamarcc.edu 10
Vermilion Community College Ely Minnesota www.vcc.edu 10
Herkimer County Community College Herkimer New York www.herkimer.edu 9
Neosho County Community College Chanute Kansas www.neosho.edu 9
Cloud County Community College Concordia Kansas www.cloud.edu 8
Independence Community College Independence Kansas www.indycc.edu 8
Kennebec Valley Community College Fairfield Maine www.kvcc.me.edu 8
Mesalands Community College Tucumcari New Mexico www.mesalands.edu 8
Western Dakota Technical Institute Rapid City South Dakota www.wdt.edu 7
Pike County Joint Vocational School District Piketon Ohio www.pikectc.org 6
Saint Louis Community College Bridgeton Missouri www.stlcc.edu 5
Bay Mills Community College Brimley Michigan www.bmcc.edu 4
Pennsylvania College of Technology Williamsport Pennsylvania www.pct.edu 4
Rochester Community and Technical College Rochester Minnesota www.rctc.edu 4
Buckeye Hills Career Center Rio Grande Ohio www.buckeyehills.net 3
Mohawk Valley Community College Utica New York www.mvcc.edu 3
Northcentral Technical College Wausau Wisconsin www.ntc.edu 3
Anna Maria College Paxton Massachusetts www.annamaria.edu 2
Anoka Technical College Anoka Minnesota www.anokatech.edu 2
Erie Community College Buffalo New York www.ecc.edu 2
High Plains Technology Center Woodward Oklahoma www.hptc.edu 2
Pierce College-Puyallup Lakewood Washington www.pierce.ctc.edu 2
Riverland Community College Austin Minnesota www.riverland.edu 2
2017-2018 School Data from IPEDS (Sourced in November, 2019)

Hybrid & Online EMT Programs

While the basics of an EMT training program can be completed online, a practical portion of the certification test requires evaluation in person. To complete the NREMT certification exam, students must first pass the psychomotor portion of the test. In traditional classroom courses, these tests are administered throughout the training sessions and ultimately approved by the course instructor. Therefore, online courses generally require that students appear in person for practical instruction before they are able to complete the course.

  • PERCOM Online: PERCOM Online is a CAAHEP-accredited institution that allows students to complete all their classroom EMT work online. After passing the final exam for the EMT online courses, students are eligible to attend a three-day skills event in person, which consists of the hands-on training necessary to sit for the certification exam. The flexibility of PERCOM's program is such that students can take the online course at their own pace and register for the skills portion when ready.

  • EMTS Academy: Although EMTS academy is located in Texas, its online EMT courses are available to students across the country. Upon the successful completion of the online portion of the course, students will have to make arrangements to travel to Round Rock, Texas, in order to complete six skill sessions of eight hours each as well as three clinical shift days.

  • UCLA Center for Prehospital Care EMT Program: At UCLA, interested students have the option to take a traditional classroom course or an online/classroom hybrid track. The hybrid courses consist of 10 online sessions, self-paced interactive assignments, and an additional eight sessions of hands-on skills training. These hands-on trainings are required in order to meet certification requirements.

  • Oregon Institute of Technology: The EMT program at OIT partners with Oregon Health and Sciences University so students can get the highest quality of teaching directly from professionals at a top medical school. Students in this program will receive typical EMT training as well as one-of-a-kind education in the OHSU cadaver lab. This program utilized a hybrid learning format with some courses offered online accompanied by hands-on lab and rotations with local EMS teams. Many students who complete this program go on to complete the paramedic program or even the bachelor’s of science in emergency medical services management.

Core & Elective Courses in EMT Programs

EMT training aims to give students a basic understanding of the life-saving skills necessary to work in prehospital medicine. Because EMTs are expected to be able to assess and transport patients to more substantial medical care, EMT training cannot and should not cover every possible illness, injury, or medical procedure. The national EMT-Basic curriculum was developed in conjunction with the United States Department of Transportation as well as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A number of paramedics, EMTs, nurses, and physicians collaborated on the standard curriculum, including representatives from the American Heart Association, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the American College of Emergency Physicians.

The EMT-Basic National Standard Curriculum is available online.

Included in the standard curriculum are courses such as:

  • Introduction to Emergency Medical Care

  • The human body

  • Lifting and moving

  • A focused history and physical exam: trauma

  • Bleeding and shock

  • Respiratory emergencies

  • Obstetrics

  • Ambulance operations

This is not a complete list but gives an overview of what courses to expect in an EMT-Basic training course. It is also good to note that the courses are divided into the categories of:

  • Preparatory

  • Airway

  • Medical

  • Patient assessment

  • Trauma

  • Infants and children

  • Operations

EMT courses are generally relatively short as compared to other medical training courses. Because of this, electives are rarely an option. While there are no specializations within the EMT-Basic certification track, students who excel may wish to continue to a more advanced track, including paramedic or eventually physician's assistant, registered nurse, or medical doctor. Of course, the curriculums for those careers are much more involved.

EMT Program & School Accreditation

EMT programs are accredited through a two-step process with the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoAEMSP) and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Programs who wish to become accredited must submit an application and Letter of Review (LoR) for the program for which they are seeking accreditation to the CoAEMSP. Upon analysis and approval, the school must complete a self-study, followed by a site visit. Details of the complete accreditation process are available on the CoAEMSP website.

Once under the LoR through the CoAEMSP, programs can then pursue CAAHEP accreditation. This involves more site visits and a board review. Accreditation is available to both traditional and online emergency medical training programs.

It should be noted that paramedic programs must CAAHEP accreditation in order for graduates to be eligible to sit for the NREMT certification. It is not required for EMT programs. Some schools that offer both EMT and paramedic training may have one or both of those programs accredited.

Although CoAEMSP LoR status and CAAHEP accreditation are marks of a reputable EMT program, state agencies may also approve EMT certification courses. In fact, to take the national certification exam, students need only to have completed a state-approved course. There is no requirement for national accreditation. The following, although not a complete list, is representative of the type of agency that would approve an EMT program and maintain an EMT certification database:

  • California Emergency Medical Services Authority

  • Texas Department of State Health Services

  • Montana Department of Health and Human Services EMS Service Licensing Program

  • Ohio Emergency Medical Services

Although most programs that are accredited by a national agency will also be state-approved, it is worth checking before enrolling in any EMT course.

Career Outlook

The career outlook for EMTs across the country is good. Over the next ten years, the demand for EMTs and paramedics is expected to grow by 6 percent between 2019 and 2029, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes as “faster than average” (BLS 2021). This si6x percent growth will add 17,000 new jobs by 2029.

As with many healthcare occupations, demand for EMTs is expected to continue to climb as the population in the U.S. continues to age and therefore needs more medical care. It is important to note that the BLS tracks statistics for EMTs and paramedics together, despite the fact that the career paths and training requirements are quite different.

EMTs are often hired by ambulance companies, though many also work for fire departments or directly for hospital emergency rooms.

Career Facts EMT
Related CareersRespiratory Therapist, Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse
Common Job TitlesEmergency Medical Technician (EMT), Emergency Medical Technician Basic (EMT, B), EMT Intermediate, EMT/Dispatchers, EMT/Driver, First Responder, Paramedic
Technology & EquipmentDefibrillators, Heart And Blood Pressure Monitors, Ventilators, Sphygmomanometers, Nebulizers, Glucose Meters
Sourced from BLS, March 2021

Licensing & Certification of EMTs

In the field of emergency medicine, an EMT certification is not simply a way to make yourself more attractive to employers. Emergency medical technician certification is required in order to obtain work as an EMT. Students may obtain nationally recognized certification through the NREMT or may instead choose to go through the state or local certification process. The certification requirements vary by state, so students should check with their EMT instructors or their local government agencies to determine what is required in their state.

The NREMT offers four levels of certification for emergency medical personnel. They are emergency medical responder (EMR), EMT, advanced EMT (AEMT), and paramedic. Eligibility requirements for the EMT certification are:

  • Complete a state-approved EMT course that meets or exceeds the National Emergency Medical Services Education Standards for the Emergency Medical Technician
  • Candidates for the EMT certification must sit for their exam within two years of the EMT training course
  • Have a current CPR and Basic Life Support certification for healthcare providers
  • Pay $98 application fee
  • Pass the EMT exam

The exam includes both a computer-based multiple-choice exam and a psychomotor exam.

The computer-based exam, known as the cognitive test, consists of 70-120 multiple choice questions and must be completed in two hours. The psychomotor portion of the exam is conducted throughout approved EMT courses and evaluates candidates’ competency in performing eight emergency medical procedures, including fracture immobilization, patient assessment, ventilation, and more. The instructor sends results to NREMT as the final step of certification.

In order to work in emergency medical services, EMTs must also hold state certification. These requirements can vary. For example, in Texas, candidates for an EMT certification must:

  • Complete a Texas Department of State Health Services approved EMS course
  • Be 18 years old
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Submit an application and pay the application fee
  • Pass the NREMT exam
  • Complete a background check, including fingerprinting

EMTs must also maintain their certification both at the state level and with NREMT by completing continuing education courses throughout their careers. The NREMT maintains a database of certified individuals, and employers will check to ensure applicants have completed their certification

Kimmy Gustafson
Kimmy Gustafson Writer

Kimmy Gustafson is a freelance writer with a passion for sharing stories of bravery. Her love for world-traveling began when her family moved to Spain when she was six and since then, she has lived overseas extensively, visited six continents, and traveled to over 25 countries. She is fluent in Spanish and conversational in French. When not writing or parenting she can be found kiteboarding, hiking, or cooking.