One of the great things about becoming an EMT is the fact that unlike other jobs or careers, a student doesn’t need to be in EMT training classes for too long before they graduate.
In fact, EMT Basic students typically receive approximately 100 hours worth of education and training in school.
To compare, about 1,000 course hours are required to be an EMT-Intermediate, while paramedic students can expect their program to last approximately 1,300 hours or more.
But how do you actually become an EMT, you ask? Good question, so let’s talk specifics.
First, a prospective EMT student will only need to have graduated from high school (or received their GED). So if you’re worried that you never went to college (or went to college but never got the opportunity to graduate), don’t worry.
A high school diploma is sufficient.
Second, most EMT programs require their students to possess cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification, or CPR certification. To find a place where you can participate in CPR classes and earn your certification, visit heart.org for more information.
Knowledge of anatomy and physiology is vital to becoming a good EMT, so if you’re still in high school or are even a little bit older, you should consider looking into a course that teaches anatomy and physiology.
If you can’t enroll in one, again, don’t worry. Many EMT programs offer their students anatomy and physiology classes, as well.
Along with learning in the classroom, you may also be trained in things such as disaster management or ambulance operations. While a lot of this is taught through didactic instruction, a course might also place students in clinical and/or field settings, as well.
EMT training courses can vary in length quite a bit. While we mentioned earlier that courses average out to be about 100 hours in length, some programs offer a variety of different options to students, depending on how much time one has or how quickly one may want to graduate the course.
Most programs meet Mondays through Friday. The classes can oftentimes be held in the evenings, too, which can be convenient if you have a day job or other family responsibilities.
Many EMT programs will offer weekend classes, too. Sometimes, a weekend course can be completed in less weeks than the evening courses, but that’s because the hours may be 8 to 5, as opposed to weekday evening courses that may just meet for a couple hours each day.
Finally, there’s what’s often referred to as accelerated EMT training. The benefit of an accelerated course is that you can graduate the program quickly, oftentimes within three to four weeks.
Also, when applying to an EMT program, there are a few general prerequisites you’ll need to adhere to, like receiving certain immunizations (such as Hepatitis B, Measles-Mumps-Rubella, and Tuberculosis), proof of a recent (within the last 12 months) physical examination, and subjecting yourself to a criminal background check.
As for paying for EMT school, financial aid is often available to students who need it.
At the end of an EMT course, certification is awarded. EMT certification, in most states, is valid for two years. Once those two years have expired, students will need to remember to recertify. This usually involves enrolling in a refresher course or receiving 24 hours worth of continuing education.
Depending on where you live, you may be required to take a standardized state exam every couple of years, too.