How to Select an EMT School

Becoming an EMT or Emergency Medical Technician is a very challenging and rewarding choice. There are many choices out there for you to get the EMT training you need to work in this exciting field that will see a 24% increase in employment demand by 2024.

Not all students take all of the time they should to find out about all of the options in EMT education. EMT education quality can vary greatly, and it will pay you dividends to do your homework. This article will explain how you should go about finding a quality EMT school.

Overview of the Emergency Medical Field

The responsibilities of an emergency medical technician and the level of training required depend upon the level of your certification. You can earn three different levels of certification:

  • EMT-Basic: Cares for patients at the accident or incident scene and gets the patient to the hospital by ambulance. A basic EMT possesses the skills and training to assess the condition of a patient and to manage cardiac, respiratory and trauma emergency situations.
  • EMT-Advanced: Also known as EMT Intermediate, this EMT has finished all of the requirements for the EMT certification, and also has had instruction on more advanced procedures: administering IVs and some types of medications.
  • Paramedic: These professionals provide a higher level of care than EMTs. Paramedics can do all of the tasks that EMTs do, but also can give the patient medications both orally and by IV. They also can interpret electrocardiograms and have training to handle other complex equipment.

EMT Entry Requirements Overview

Some EMT programs will mandate that you have a certain number of years of clinical experience in some capacity before you can become an EMT. Other programs could require you to have letters of recommendation from doctors, friends and employers.

Many EMT programs will require you to take a practical or written test to enter. Some may require you to be interviewed before you can begin. The interview allows the school’s staff to get a better grasp on your personality and qualifications.

Anatomy and physiology classes are required in all EMT programs. Some prospective students may have already taken those courses in another program. You should check with your program coordinator about possibly transferring these courses into your EMT program.

We advise that you begin to do research about your possible EMT program at least six months before you intend to being. This allows sufficient time to find a good EMT program that fits your schedule and needs.

EMT Programs in Your Area

We recommend that you contact the regional and/or state agencies that oversee EMT and paramedic training in your area. The programs that are right near you are not always the best choice. Some states have EMT programs that are not just at community and vocational colleges.

You may be able to find a good EMT program at a hospital or even a private company, if this is allowed in your state. Some programs may award you an associate’s degree or a certificate as an EMT. If you are attending a certificate program, verify that you can transfer later to a two or four year college.

Selection Criteria

As you are looking at different EMT programs, you should keep these factors in mind:

  • What levels of study are available at the school? Some programs offer EMT basic, EMT intermediate and paramedic training. You should choose your school based upon the level of training you seek.
  • This field changes every year, and there could be many changes that have occurred in EMT training. So, you should make certain that your program is keeping at the cutting edge of training updates.
  • You may want to look for programs that offer scholarships to help you with finances.

Types of EMT Programs

Depending upon the level you wish to attain, you will need to decide if you want to earn a certificate, associate’s or bachelor’s in the field. To find accredited programs that are in your state, please visit the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs.

After you have completed your training, you are required to pass your certification examination that is offered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians or NREMT. 

All states require all EMTs and paramedics to have their license, but the requirements vary by state.

EMT Certificate

This type of program is generally for EMT Basic level training. It combines lessons in the classroom with field experiences that are closely supervised to prepare you for your certification examination that is given through the National Registry of EMTs. Your instructors will guide you through many hands on classes where you deal with emergencies including heart attack, breathing problems, poisonings and metabolic problems.

The typical EMT program takes 20-45 credits to complete. Most can be completed in a year.

The EMT Basic curriculum is in these parts:

  • Module 1 – Preparatory
  • Module 2 – Airway
  • Module 3 – Trauma Assessment and Documentation
  • Module 4 – Medical Assessment
  • Module 5 – Trauma Emergencies
  • Module 6 – Pediatric and Geriatric Emergencies
  • Module 7 – Operations

Associate’s Degree in Paramedicine

This is a two year EMT college program that usually is taught at a community college. It is for students who want to get to the highest level of training as an EMT – paramedic. This two year program usually requires you to have at least a basic or intermediate certification. It follows a structured curriculum that will include lectures in class, internships in the field, and supervised clinical hours in the hospital.

A typical curriculum for this associate’s degree is:

  • Applied Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Applied Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Anatomy and Physiology II
  • Introduction to Advanced Practice
  • Patient Assessment and Airway Management
  • Clinical-Emergency Medical Technology/Technician
  • Cardiology
  • Trauma Management
  • Special Topics in Emergency Medical Technology/Technician

Bachelor of Science in Emergency Medical Services Management

This is a full, four year EMT program at a four year university that is designed for experienced EMTs or paramedics so that they can become effective managers for an EMT department or staff.

You can expect to take courses in these types of classes to earn your bachelor’s degree:

  • EMS Planning and Development
  • EMS Operations and Personnel Management
  • Foundations in EMS Education
  • Risk Management Practices in EMS
  • EMS Communications
  • Finance of Emergency Medical Service Systems
  • Leadership in EMS Systems
  • Legal, Political and Regulatory Environment of Emergency Medical Service Systems
  • Community Risk Reduction in EMS
  • EMS Public Information and Community Relations
  • Public Health Emergencies
  • EMS System Design Project (Capstone)

Becoming an EMT is a great choice because there is a huge demand for these highly trained and compassionate health care workers. You need to determine the level of EMT that you want to be, and how much education you want to obtain before you begin working.

Many EMT Basic workers get their initial certification, and begin to work for two or three years, and later earn their more advanced EMT certifications.

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Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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