EMT Job Outlook

Many high school graduates and those people who are looking for a career change due to today’s market, have started to look into healthcare careers.  Even with job cuts and layoffs, careers in emergency medicine continue to thrive - especially in certain areas where positions held by volunteers are being replaced by paid positions, due to the lack of adequately trained volunteers.

EMT jobs have become more attractive because of the relative short training period and demand for trained emergency medical technicians.  To become an EMT, you must have a high school diploma in order to become a student in an emergency medical technician training program.

You can usually find a good program at your local Community College, where you will enter a Basic Level EMT program, learning first responder techniques, such as managing trauma patients, respiratory and cardiac emergencies and basic patient assessment.  Courses are usually combined with clinical hours in an emergency room or ambulance service. The EMT program provides hours of instruction and practice with airway obstruction, bleeding situations, fractures and emergency childbirth. EMT students will be taught how to use emergency equipment, backboards, stretchers, splints and oxygen systems. Students will test off on the learned techniques both in written exams and practical exams.

Once a student successfully completes the training course, they will need to pass their State’s certification exam, before moving on to employment, or the more advanced level of training as a Paramedic. Every State in the U.S. requires certification for EMTs and they must recertify on average of every 2 years, which means they must remain current in employment and continuing education, in order to keep up with the latest rules and changes in technology.

Career EMTs may work with private ambulance services, local government agencies, or fire departments. EMT salaries vary depending on where in the country they are working and depending on what type of organization. For instance, in large metropolitan areas where EMTs may be part of fire or police departments, the salary will be higher and they will typically receive comparable benefits to firefighters or police officers. Those EMTs working for ambulance services and for hospitals would generally be in the lower to middle range of average pay.  The lowest end of the range is $18,000 to $20,000 while the high end of the pay scale has been $45,000 to $55,000.

The job outlook for EMTs is good and expected to grow on a faster than average basis through the next 5 to 10 years.

EMT Training

First responders such as EMTs and Paramedics are responsible for providing life-saving services to the public in all types of emergencies that happen every day. Emergency Medical Technicians are called to the scene of auto accidents, heart attacks, illnesses, shootings, where they must use their training and skills to quickly assess the patient’s condition, treat and transport them to a nearby hospital.

There are several levels of EMT training starting with Basic and ending with Paramedic – the levels of training and responsibility increase with each level. EMT Basic would be the first level to be attained.

To get started you must have a high school diploma, so if you did not finish high school, your first order of business would be to get your GED. Some training schools require that you have your CPR Certification prior to starting classes. Check your school’s requirements, as they may want you to have a professional level CPR Certificate. If they do, you will want to take the CPR class designated for medical professionals or professional rescuer.

There are both private schools and community colleges that offer a Basic Level EMT program, however the private schools tend to be a bit more expensive. The length of the program can vary from one semester to three, depending on your location in the United States.

The basic EMT course teaches first responder techniques, such as patient assessment, managing trauma patients, recognition and treatment of various cardiac emergencies. In addition to classroom time, training is also a combination of clinical hours in a hospital’s emergency room or ambulance service ride alongs.

More advanced EMT or Paramedic training involves learning about various medications, pushing IV fluids, how to perform intubations, and operation of more complex machines such as electrocardiograms and defibrillators. We are just being general here, because the more advanced levels of certification and their requirements vary significantly from state to state.

When you successfully complete the EMT Basic program, you must then pass the exam issued by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). The NREMT certifies first responders at five levels from EMT Basic through several levels of EMT Intermediate up to Paramedic. Your instructor(s) will certainly advise of you about your individual state’s requirements.