Emergency Medical Tech Careers

An EMT needs training—and the ability to keep calm in a crisis.

The Basics

What you'll do: You'll provide on-the-scene, immediate medical care to patients in emergency situations such as automobile accidents or heart attacks. You'll work to stabilize the sick or injured person and then transport them to a medical facility. You must know how to assess an emergency scene, control bleeding, apply splints, assist with childbirth, administer oxygen and perform CPR and other basic life support skills.

Where you'll work: You'll work in an ambulance or similar vehicle, hospitals, clinics and emergency rooms

Degree you'll need: High school diploma or GED and a certificate, diploma or associate's degree from an accredited EMT program

Median annual salary: $31,020*

emt training

To earn certification as an EMT-paramedic, you'll first need EMT I-Basic certification. Most EMT/paramedic programs are 2-year associate's degree programs, which require extensive coursework and clinical training. Paramedics (EMT-paramedic) have the most training and expansive scope of authorized activities. They administer more emergency medications and perform a wide variety of other procedures.

An EMT-I may assist a patient with the administration of the patient's prescribed nitroglycerin or hand-held inhaler.

An EMT I-Basic program will provide you with plenty of hands-on experience in how to perform the following procedures:

  • Physical exams
  • Assess trauma
  • Administer oxygen
  • Perform airway maintenance
  • Semi-automatic defibrillation
  • Administer medication

Intermediate level EMTs (EMT-II and EMT-III) have more advanced EMT training which allows them to administer intravenous fluids, use manual defibrillators to give lifesaving shocks to a stopped heart, and use advanced airway techniques and equipment to assist patients experiencing respiratory emergencies.

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Certification

EMTs need to be certified or registered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians in all states. However, some states administer their own certification examination and provide the option of taking the NRMET examination. To maintain certification, EMTs and paramedics must re-register every two years.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014-15 Occupational Outlook Handbook; EMTs and Paramedics

*The salary information listed is based on a national average, unless noted. Actual salaries may vary greatly based on specialization within the field, location, years of experience and a variety of other factors. National long-term projections of employment growth may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual job growth.