A career as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) is filled with constant action while also being one of great importance. In some instances, EMT response could mean the difference between life and death. It is a job that can be fast-paced and very fulfilling. EMTs respond to 911 calls and are often the first ones to arrive on the scene.
EMTs provide immediate care to an individual in route to a medical facility. An EMT is responsible for transporting individuals who are sick or injured to a healthcare facility. During that time, EMTs apply immediate care to the problem area. While the level of care they provide is not near the same kind of care a doctor can provide, it can be enough to sustain patients until they reach a hospital or medical facility.
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EMTs are employed by private rescue companies, fire departments or ambulance services. Most people are accustomed to seeing ambulances pass on the street, although there is more to the job than just transporting patients. There is a need to communicate with both patients and medical facilities. There is also a certain amount if lifting involved as EMTs are expected to be able to lift at least 125 pounds. Physical stamina and being in somewhat decent shape are also key to this profession.
An EMT is the first one on the scene in an emergency situation. That means they could be pulling up to someone having a heart attack, suffering from a broken bone or going into labor. There is always a great unknown when starting out a shift as an EMT, which provides a certain sense of excitement. However, the one constant is that people rely heavily on EMTs to get them proper medical attention as quickly and efficiently as possible. They are often considered life savers as that is precisely what they are able to do in some situations.
EMT Salary/Job Prospects
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for an EMT is $36,110 per year. However, that pay scale fluctuates based upon location. EMTs in the state of Washington have the highest annual average salary at $65,320. The District of Columbia checks in second with an average salary of $57,900, which is followed by Alaska ($54,290), Hawaii ($49,680) and Connecticut ($46,320).
Job growth is continuing at a rapid pace for EMTs. The healthcare industry continues to expand and with it comes the need for EMTs to attend to emergency situations. Technology cannot replace the human element in this profession and for that reason, job growth is expected to reach 24% by the year 2024, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That has created new positions all over the country as a career as an EMT offers job stability for years to come.
Emergency Medical Technician Education
Those looking to start out a career as an EMT must be at least 18 years of age and have earned a high school diploma or GED equivalency. Criminal background checks are also conducted and the inability to pass a background check dismisses candidates from pursuing a career as an EMT. Each state sets its own licensing standards for EMTs, which dictates educational objectives.
A universal requirement for an EMT is to be CPR certified. That is part of what is taught in an EMT training program, which lasts anywhere from six months a year, depending on the frequency and length of classes. EMT training programs cover different levels of training, the most basic of which focuses on cardiac emergencies, bleeding and fractures. Throughout these training programs, coursework covers other subject areas, such as emergency medical operations, shock and resuscitation, patient assessment, traumatic emergencies, pharmacology, airway management, advanced life support techniques and more.
Once a foundation of basic knowledge is accumulated, training takes a more hands-on approach. Students are then required to complete a specified number of training hours. This is where students learn how to use EMT equipment, administer IVs and give certain medications to patients. Upon the completion of an EMT training program, students earn certifications that will allow them to begin a career as an EMT.
Training programs are available at post-secondary schools, such as training institutes, career centers and vocational schools. There are no college requirements needed to start out career training for a future as an EMT. Individuals looking to enhance their credentials even further can earn an Associate’s Degree of Applied Science in EMT-Paramedic. This is the most advanced option as these programs include specific emergency training along with a detailed classroom education and clinical practicums. Community colleges typically offer Associate’s Degrees of this nature.
In order to earn an EMT certification, a certain number of training hours must be completed. Basic certifications typically require 100 hours while intermediate levels call for roughly 1,000 hours. Each certification program has its own specifications for its respective certifications. There are other certification and licensing requirements as well. For example, a CPR certification must be attained to become an EMT and a valid driver’s license is required as well.
A vast amount of training programs require their EMT students to pass the NREMT (National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians) certification exam. This exam is usually taken at the end of a certification program. However, many states issue their own examinations for various levels of EMT certifications. These examinations feature written, oral and demonstrative portions. Certifications also demand continuing education credits and must be renewed every few years. Each state sets different requirements for its EMTs, although a license is required to work in each state.
National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians
This website provides information on how to become a certified EMT, and also features an extensive amount of resources that are extremely useful to EMTs.
National Association of EMT State Officials
This association is considered the voice of state policies as they apply to EMTs.
National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
This resource is a tremendous benefit to EMTs across the country, offering an abundance of information on numerous subjects.
National EMS Management Association
This association provides news, credentialing information and other helpful tips to emergency medical technicians.