How to Become an Emergency Medical Technician

Updated on August 28, 2023

If you spend a lot of time wishing your regular nine to five job could be more exciting, it may be time for a career change. The job of Emergency Medical Technicians is expected to grow fifteen percent over the next decade, and you could be a part of this ever-changing, fast-paced world.

Wondering how to become an EMT? Read on.

Understanding the Role of an EMT

EMTs are just one rung of the field-based emergency medical provider ladder. There are several layers of emergency medical technician:

Emergency Medical First Responder

EMRs are trained to the most basic level of life-saving skills. They can control bleeding, set a fracture, perform CPR, and other very basic functions while waiting for a higher level provider to arrive on the scene.

Emergency Medical Technician

EMTs possess all the skills of the EMR but are also trained to use many non-invasive tools in the field. They can take blood pressures, evaluate oxygen levels in the blood, help patients take prescribed medications, and perform other basic life-saving interventions. When people research EMT school or how to become an EMT, it is usually at this skill level.

Emergency Technician Advanced

These providers can administer limited medications and start IVs. They are trained to perform more advanced diagnostic skills such as EKG’s and blood glucose measurements. 


Paramedics will typically require two years of additional EMT training. Paramedics can perform many advanced life-saving interventions and administer a large array of medications.

How to Become an EMT

Many schools nationwide offer paths to become an EMT. EMT training can be done as a stand-alone certification or combined with other classes to earn a degree in emergency medicine.

Volunteer fire departments can offer EMT training in exchange for a commitment of time spent in the company. Community colleges also offer these courses, and most four year colleges offer a form of EMT training as part of a degree program.

In addition to learning how to become an EMT, you can explore more courses in emergency medicine.

Other Skills You Will Need

EMT training is a good place to start your emergency medicine career, but to succeed you will need to know more than just how to become an EMT. A successful EMT has:

People skills: The EMT will need patience and compassion to deal with a large variety of people having their “worst day ever.” They will also need to be capable of handling a patient’s emotional family members.

Physical endurance: The EMT needs to be in good physical shape. The job requires lifting of the patient, the stretcher, and heavy equipment.

Problem-Solving abilities: A successful EMT will need to be able to make quick, informed decisions many times throughout their day. Problem-solving should come naturally to an EMT.

Using Your EMT Certification

There are many non-traditional career opportunities for EMTs. Other job opportunities can include emergency room technicians or a career with a commercial ambulance company. 

Check out other interesting articles about healthcare careers and training under our “Education” page.

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