Generally, a high school diploma is required to enter a training program
to become an EMT or paramedic. Workers must complete a formal training and
Education and training. A high school
diploma is usually required to enter a formal emergency medical technician
training program. Training is offered at progressive levels: EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate,
At the EMT-Basic level, coursework emphasizes emergency skills, such as
managing respiratory, trauma, and cardiac emergencies, and patient assessment.
Formal courses are often combined with time in an emergency department or
ambulance. The program provides instruction and practice in dealing with
bleeding, fractures, airway obstruction, cardiac arrest, and emergency
childbirth. Students learn how to use and maintain common emergency equipment,
such as backboards, suction devices, splints, oxygen delivery systems, and
stretchers. Graduates of approved EMT-Basic training programs must pass a
written and practical examination administered by the State licensing agency or
At the EMT-Intermediate level, training requirements vary by State. The
nationally defined levels, EMT-Intermediate 1985 and EMT-Intermediate 1999,
typically require 30 to 350 hours of training based on scope of practice.
Students learn advanced skills such the use of advanced airway devices,
intravenous fluids, and some medications.
The most advanced level of training for this occupation is Paramedic. At this
level, the caregiver receives training in anatomy and physiology as well as
advanced medical skills. Most commonly, the training is conducted in community
colleges and technical schools and may result in an associate's degree. These
programs may take up to one to two years. Such education prepares the graduate
to take the NREMT examination to become certified as a Paramedic. Extensive
related coursework and clinical and field experience is required. Refresher
courses and continuing education are available for EMTs and paramedics at all
Licensure. All 50 States require EMTs and
Paramedics to be licensed, but the levels and titles vary from State to State.
In most States and the District of Columbia certification by the NREMT is
required at some or all levels. Some States administer their own certification
examination or provide the option of taking either the NREMT or State
examination. In most States, licensure renewal is required every two to three
years and generally, EMTs and Paramedics must take refresher training courses or
complete continuing education requirements. Many States restrict licensure based
on an individual�s criminal history.
Other qualifications. EMTs and paramedics
should be emotionally stable, have good dexterity, agility, and physical
coordination, and be able to lift and carry heavy loads. They also need good
eyesight (corrective lenses may be used) with accurate color vision. Many
employers require a criminal background check.
Advancement. Paramedics can become
supervisors, operations managers, administrative directors, or executive
directors of emergency services. Some EMTs and paramedics become instructors,
dispatchers, or physician assistants; others move into sales or marketing of
emergency medical equipment. A number of people become EMTs and paramedics to
test their interest in healthcare before training as registered nurses,
physicians, or other health workers.
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition
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