EMT-Basic Certification Education Requirements
Potential EMT students must have a high school diploma prior to entering a training program to become an EMT. EMTs must complete formal educational training and apply for certification through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. (NREMT)

Training for EMTs is offered at progressive levels:

  • EMT-Basic
  • EMT-Intermediate
  • Paramedic

Coursework for the EMT-Basic level consists of emergency management skills for respirator, trauma and cardiac emergencies, as well as performing patient assessments. Traditional classroom learning is combined with hands on experience riding in ambulances or working in emergency departments. EMT-Basic level EMTs learn to deal with:

  • Bleeding
  • Fractures
  • Airway obstruction
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Emergency childbirth

EMT-Basic students also learn how to maintain and utilize the following emergency equipment:

  • Backboards
  • Suction devices
  • Splints
  • Oxygen delivery systems
  • Stretchers

EMT-Basic students must pass written and practical examinations administered by their states or by NREMT.

EMT Certification
Every US state requires EMTs to be certified but levels and titles currently vary. Most states require certification from NREMT, but some states do administer their own certification tests. Certification renewal is generally required every 2 to 3 years and continuing education must be maintained. Certification can be pulled or withheld due to criminal convictions.

NREMT allows for EMTs who are not employed due to certain circumstances, such as illness or pursuit of additional education to apply for an inactive status. In order to reactivate their status, they must reapply, maintain continuing education and be actively employed as an EMT.

Limitations do exist for EMT students applying for certification. Applicants can be tested up to 3 times before additional remedial education is required for the applicant. After remedial education is completed, applicants have an additional 3 attempts to pass NREMT testing before being required to retake an EMT training course. Each attempt costs applicants $70, utilizing testing prep and practice exams is a smart move for applicants to ensure they are adequately prepared for testing.

Additional Qualifications
EMTs should be emotionally stable, able to lift and carry heavy loads, have good eyesight or use corrective lenses, and be in good physical condition. Additionally, EMTs cannot have been convicted of serious criminal offenses, and even minor ones can decrease chances of employment.

Opportunities for Advancement
EMTs have ample opportunity for advancement no matter what type of organization they are employed by. EMTs can advance to a supervisor position, operations managers, directors, or executive directors. Some EMTs find employment as instructors, dispatchers, or physicians assistants. Different industries have opportunities for EMTs. Sports and entertainment organizations often employ EMTs as well as health care organizations.

Advanced Education Provides More Opportunities
Additional education is usually required to for EMTs to take full advantage of advancement opportunities. The majority of higher paying positions are only available to EMTs who have completed training to become and EMT-Intermediate or an EMT-Paramedic. Completing additional training is worthwhile for EMTS as income potential increases exponentially as additional education is added to a candidate’s portfolio.

EMT-Basic Education: Jump-start a Career as an EMT
One of the best things about becoming an EMT is that the educational opportunities are progressive. Students can obtain certification as an EMT-Basic and enter the field within a short time. Additionally, students have the option to fulfill additional educational requirements that are generally offered around EMT work hours. Many employers will pay for the additional training.

This is a major selling point for many students. The ability to start working in their chosen field so quickly is appealing, as is the opportunity to have each tier of the education process lead to higher pay and more responsibilities. EMT students can begin work within a few short months of beginning training.


Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics . (n.d.). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved March 8, 2012, from http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos101.htm

NREMT – National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. (n.d.). NREMT – National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. Retrieved March 8, 2012, from http://www.nremt.org

For more EMT knowledge, go to our EMT Resources page
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