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 5 percent between 2022 and 2032, making now an ideal time to think about pursuing training in this fast-paced career (BLS 2022). 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 Created
|Projected Job Growth
|Sourced from BLS June 2022
EMT Degree & Certification Programs
Arizona State University
Eastern Oregon University
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-along 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 toward 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.
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.
To register for this EMT course, students must be at least 18 years of age. This course has no prerequisites, however, passing CPR during the EMT course is required. As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as EMS systems; patient assessment; medical terminology; the human body; airway; pharmacology; medical emergencies; orthopedic emergencies; and transport operations, among many others.
Students in this program will learn from practicing paramedics and EMTs who work in the field every day.
- Location: Sacramento, CA
- Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- Expected Time to Completion: Nine weeks
- Estimated Tuition: $1,700
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 college offers an EMT certificate which comprises 12 credits and a clinical EMT certificate which requires 24 credits.
The EMT certificate 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. Courses in this program include EMT fundamentals; EMT medical emergencies; EMT trauma emergencies; EMT special considerations; and EMT clinical.
Students in the clinical EMT certificate are provided with an expanded set of knowledge and skills through professional development to better care for patients under the supervision of doctors or nurses. This two-semester program includes all courses mentioned above with the addition of medical record terminology; EMS IV/IO therapy; basic EKG interpretation; and clinical EMT courses.
- Location: Boulder, Larimer, and Westminster, CO
- Accreditation: The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Expected Time to Completion: EMT certificate (one semester); clinical EMT certificate (two semesters)
- Estimated Tuition: Resident ($280.20 per credit); non-resident ($673.90 per credit)
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.
The EMS certificate course is made up of 12 credits, the paramedic certificate comprises 42 credits, while the EMS associate’s degree requires 73 credits. Some of the courses in the curriculum include introduction to emergency medical services; emergency medical technician skills laboratory; basic emergency medical technician; EMT hospital clinical; emergency services administration; and community risk reduction, among others.
- Location: Coconut Creek, FL; Davie, FL
- Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- Expected Time to Completion: EMT certification course (one semester); paramedic certificate (four semesters); EMS associate’s degree (six semesters)
- Estimated Tuition: Residents (EMT certification course – $2000; paramedic certificate – $7000; EMS associate’s degree – $10,000); out-of-state candidates (EMT certification course – $5,000; paramedic certificate – $16,000; EMS associate’s degree – $30,000)
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.
- Location: Pittsburgh, PA
- Accreditation: N/A
- Expected Time to Completion: varies
- Estimated Tuition: $750 to $850
List of EMT & Paramedic Schools
|Ivy Tech Community College
|College of Lake County
|Hutchinson Community College
|Mountainland Technical College
|City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X College
|North Seattle College
|Waubonsee Community College
|Sinclair Community College
|University of Antelope Valley
|Skagit Valley College
|White Bear Lake
|Davis Technical College
|Apollo Career Center
|Bridgerland Technical College
|Illinois Central College
|Kansas City Kansas Community College
|Rio Grande Valley College
|Clovis Community College
|Bellingham Technical College
|William Rainey Harper College
|Heartland Community College
|McHenry County College
|Cowley County Community College
|Herkimer County Community College
|Columbia Basin College
|EHOVE Career Center
|Anoka Technical College
|Barton County Community College
|Butler Community College
|Frontier Community College
|Elgin Community College
|Kellogg Community College
|Garden City Community College
|Prairie State College
|Walla Walla Community College
|Inver Hills Community College
|Inver Grove Heights
|Lewis and Clark Community College
|Hennepin Technical College
|Salina Area Technical College
|Dixie State University
|Highland Community College
|Coffeyville Community College
|Minnesota North College - Vermilion
|Flint Hills Technical College
|University of Arkansas Hope-Texarkana
|Western Dakota Technical College
|Riverside County Office of Education-School of Career Education
|Red River Technology Center
|Mt. Diablo Adult Education-Mt. Diablo USD
|Mount Wachusett Community College
|Massachusetts Bay Community College
|Pierce College District
|Riverland Community College
|Neosho County Community College
|Vantage Career Center
|Stanly Community College
|Tulsa Community College
|Pine Technical & Community College
|Quinsigamond Community College
|Pike County Joint Vocational School District
|Monroe Community College
|Rochester Community and Technical College
|Tacoma Community College
|Union County College
|Universal Technology College of Puerto Rico
|Cloud County Community College
|Pennsylvania College of Technology
|Minnesota North College - Mesabi Range
|Anna Maria College
|Bristol Community College
|Lamar Community College
|Independence Community College
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 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.
Applicants to the program must have a high school diploma or its equivalent, a valid government-issued identification card, and must not have anything in their personal criminal background which would prevent them to work as medical professionals.
- Location: Abilene, TX
- Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
- Expected Time to Completion: Six months
- Estimated Tuition: $1,000
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.
Topics discussed in the program include EMS services and quality control; interpersonal communications; EMT safety and well-being; and EMT legal issues.
- Location: Round Rock, TX
- Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
- Expected Time to Completion: Varies
- Estimated Tuition: $2,799
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 pieces of training are required in order to meet certification requirements.
- Location: Los Angeles, CA
- Accreditation: Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
- Expected Time to Completion: Accelerated EMT Program (four weeks); Online EMT Program (ten weeks)
- Estimated Tuition: Course fee ($1,595); required materials ($349)
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.
- Location: Klamath Falls, OR
- Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU); Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)
- Expected Time to Completion: Two academic quarter terms
- Estimated Tuition: $12,686.70 total
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
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:
Infants and children
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 that 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 have 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:
Although most programs that are accredited by a national agency will also be state-approved, it is worth checking before enrolling in an EMT course.
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 5 percent between 2022 and 2032, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics categorizes as “faster than average” (BLS 2022). This projected growth will add 14,600 new jobs by 2032.
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.
|Respiratory Therapist, Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse
|Common Job Titles
|Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Emergency Medical Technician-Basic (EMT, B), EMT Intermediate, EMT/Dispatchers, EMT/Driver, First Responder, Paramedic
|Technology & Equipment
|Defibrillators, Heart And Blood Pressure Monitors, Ventilators, Sphygmomanometers, Nebulizers, Glucose Meters
|Sourced from BLS, May 2022
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 responders (EMR), EMTs, advanced EMTs (AEMT), and paramedics. 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.