Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)


In emergencies, EMTs and paramedics are dispatched by a 911 operator to the scene, where they often work with police and firefighters.

In emergencies, EMTs and paramedics are dispatched by a 911 operator to the scene, where they often work with police and firefighters.

When there’s an emergency, you call 911. An ambulance will arrive within a few minutes, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics will begin helping and stabilizing patients as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Fast Facts

Minimum Degree/Certification Requirement: Formal Training, License

Vital Skills/Knowledge: Emergency Medical Care, Physical Fitness, Working Well Under Pressure

Average Starting Salary: $21,500 a year

Job Description

From heart attacks to strokes to burns to lacerations, EMTs have to handle it all. From the moment they arrive on the scene, they must check and asses a patients condition and decide the best course of action. They work at all times of the day and night, and under many indoor/outdoor conditions. An EMT commonly performs such tasks as:

CPR for patients whose hearts have stopped

Getting patients on stretchers and safely out of dangerous situations

Temporarily setting broken limbs

Slowing or stopping bleeding from large wounds

Intubating a patient who can’t breathe

Starting IVs on patients on the way to the hospital

An EMT does much of the same work as a paramedic. However, paramedics are licensed to administer medication orally and intravenously, and they can read EKGs/other equipment to monitor patient condition.

EMTs save lives as a part of their daily work, but it is not an easy job. EMTs must be able to handle patients in extreme pain, or near death. They must be able to get patients down the stairs when no elevator is available or out of rubble after a disaster. They must be physically and emotionally strong people.


In addition to a high school diploma and CPR training, EMTs may need up to 1,000 hours of training. They learn in the classroom, in hospitals, and in ambulances. At the end of their training an EMT should be comfortable with all the standard protocols and procedures for different calls.

Interested high school students should pursue the most challenging courses in Biology, Anatomy and Physiology, Health, and/or Sports Medicine, to be well prepared for training.

Certification/ Licensing

The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certifies EMTs and paramedics. To become an EMT you must complete your certified training program (typically at a hospital), and pass the national exam. In some states, you must also take and pass the state exam. Applicants under 18 or with a criminal history will generally not be issued a license.

Job Outlook: Excellent

The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 33% increase in EMT and Paramedic positions in between the years 2010 and 2020, which is well above the national average. The median salary for an EMT is $30,360 per year.

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