What Is the Best Degree Path for Becoming an EMT?
When accidents happen or people become seriously ill, emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics are there to save the day. These healthcare professionals respond to emergency situations every day, working to save lives as they respond to emergency calls, transport patients to medical facilities and provide urgently needed medical care. If you are interested in a fulfilling career as an EMT, pursuing postsecondary training and education in medical technology is essential to gaining the skills and knowledge you will need to make a difference.
An Education in Emergency Medical Technology
To develop the skills in using emergency medical technology effectively, aspiring EMTs must complete a postsecondary education program at a community college, technical school or other institution. First, they must have not only a high school diploma but also cardiopulmonary resuscitation – more commonly known as CPR – certification, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. There is no age requirement for taking a CPR course, and they can be completed in person or even online.
Once an aspiring EMT has earned both a diploma and CPR certification, he or she can enroll in an emergency medical technology program. These programs can last from less than one year to two years, though they are non-degree awarding, which means there is no diploma upon completion. However, aspiring paramedics, who have more extensive responsibilities than EMTs, often need to earn an associate’s degree.
In an emergency medical technology program, students will spend approximately 150 hours with instructors, some in hospitals or ambulances. They will learn how to evaluate patients’ conditions, manage trauma and heart emergencies, clear airways and utilize medical equipment. The more advanced an emergency responder’s position is, the more education he or she needs. The education required to become an Advanced EMT spans 300 hours and covers the use of intravenous (IV) fluids, certain medications and more complex devices for opening airways. Paramedics will spend 1,200 hours learning more complex skills, such as how to administer IV fluids and how to stitch up wounds.
EMT Licenses and Certifications
Every state requires EMTs to attain licenses. Often, this means earning certification through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT), which comes after completing an emergency medical technology education program and passing both the practical and written components of a test. Some states may also require candidates to take an additional examination to earn their licenses. Other first responders, like firefighters, may also need to attain EMT certification to work in emergency services.
EMTs and paramedics have the opportunity to save lives every day. The postsecondary education required to attain an EMT position is necessary for teaching the practical skills to rescue, transport and stabilize patients in urgent need of medical care. While the job is certainly challenging, requiring a combination of physical strength, compassion and problem-solving skills, it can also be highly rewarding. EMTs and other types of emergency responders make an important difference to their patients and their communities.