EMT-Basic: The First Step to a Career in EMT
Becoming an EMT-Basic can be the first step in a career that truly makes a difference in the lives of others and the community. EMTs understand the impact of every decision made. EMTs make decisions that can mean the difference between life and death on a daily basis.

Since the inception of EMS, this profession has sustained continued growth and expansion. There are currently three levels of EMT:

  • Basic
  • Intermediate
  • Paramedic

EMT Education
Before enrolling in an EMT educational program, it is recommended that the student research the training center. Investigating the program’s history prior to enrolling is wise. Not all programs are created equally. A few helpful questions to ask are:

  • How long has the program been in existence?
  • What is the success rate for students taking the NREMT exams?
  • Do they have a positive relationship with local EMTs and Health care organizations?

Networking is extremely important for EMTs. It is vital that instructors teaching EMT classes have positive relationships with the health care community and EMT personnel. In many cases, the first step for employment for students is through their instructors.

Step 1: Getting CPR Certification
The first step for students interested in becoming EMTs in their educational journey is to take a course in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). CPR courses are usually 8 hours in length and taught in various formats. Passing a CPR course is a prerequisite for the EMT Basic course.
Step 2: Enrolling in an EMT-Basic Course
After obtaining a CPR completion card students are eligible to enroll in the EMT Basic program. There are various hospitals and community colleges across the country for students to choose from, in addition to online courses coupled with weekend labs. With all the available options, students can find a class to fit their various needs.

Step 3: NREMT Testing
In order to be certified, students must pass NREMT exams. Testing prep is essential for students wishing to become EMTs. Practice for skills and exams can ensure that students achieve a passing score on the exams on the first attempt.

Step 4: Finding Employment
Finding employment as an EMT may seem overwhelming to newly certified EMTs but many private ambulance companies are willing to take on new graduates. Also, attentive students who have done well in class may find instructors more than willing to connect them with employment after obtaining certification.

Step 5: Continuing Education
EMT-Basic employees should take several classes during their first year of employment.

IV Approval Course- the IV approval course is 24 hours in length and covers starting intravenous fluids for patients as well as the procedures for monitoring patients during the procedure.

Basic EKG Course- this course is approximately 30 hours in length and introduces students to interpreting cardiac rhythm disturbances.

By taking these classes, newly certified EMT-Basics enhance their skills and complete prerequisites for paramedic programs.

Step 6: Becoming an EMT-Intermediate (EMT-I) or Paramedic
Most EMT-I programs offer 225 hours of classroom and lab along with 175 hours of clinical experience. EMT-I courses teach advanced level assessment and advanced treatment skills relating to a number of emergency situations. In many states these courses act as a bridge between EMT-Basic and Paramedic education, and can be skipped in some instances.

The EMT Paramedic courses require 1100 hours of education, 450 hours of classroom and lab, 150 hours of clinical experience, in addition to 500 hours of field internship. In addition to the required hours, a specific number of patient assessments and additional skills are necessary.

Education is the Key for Higher Earnings and Job Opportunities
EMTs pursuing advanced education can increase their earnings exponentially. Pursuing advanced education also offers increased responsibilities and better job opportunities. Employment opportunities for EMTs can be competitive; having a degree can open doors.

“How to Become an EMT: Career Roadmap.” Web. 08 Mar. 2012. <http://education-portal.com/how_to_become_an_emt.html>.

“Significant Points.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Web. 08 Mar. 2012. <http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos101.htm>.

For more EMT knowledge, go to our EMT Resources page
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