EMT Training - Become an Emergency Medical Technician

EMT Certification

 EMT Certification – EMT Training 

Becoming an EMT is a process with many steps that each emergency medical responder must follow in order to get certified. It may sound complicated, but going over each step will help guide you on your way to EMT certification. Emergency medical professionals must apply for certification through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) before they can become licensed in their state.


To clarify, National Registry of EMT certification is a national standard and licensure is dictated by each individual state.


The NREMT is a private certifying organization that maintains consistent standards throughout the United States. Getting EMT certification through the National Registry indicates a candidate has successfully demonstrated knowledge and skills in mandated examinations.


Getting certified shows the state that an individual has shown a certain level of competency. However, EMT certification does not authorize you to work. Candidates must get licensed in their state before they can begin working as an EMT in the field.


Each state handles licensing through their State EMS Offices or an equivalent building, but the process of licensure is much easier than the EMT certification process.

EMT Certification Emergency Room

Once a candidate completes Emergency Medical Technician school training they gain eligibility to become EMT certified. However, before being awarded certification, candidates must pass two National Registry exams: the Cognitive Exam and Psychomotor Exam.

National Registry of EMT Exams


Applying for the Cognitive Exam is done at the NREMT website. This can be done by first going to the National Registry of EMT site and creating an account, then creating a new application, and finally paying the $80 cognitive exam fee. The last step will be to set up a time and location for the written test.


This is a written exam but it’s administered via computer using a computer adaptive test (CAT) algorithm. This means the length of your test will vary depending on how well you answer the test questions.


The minimum questions asked will be 70 and the maximum will be 120. No matter how many questions a candidate is asked, they will have 2 hours to complete the Cognitive portion of the exam.


The cognitive exam splits content up into five major areas:


• Trauma
• EMS Operations
• Cardiology and Resuscitation
• Airway, Respiration and Ventilation
• Medical; Obstetrics and Gynecology


 The Psychomotor Exam tests an individuals competency in emergency care skills and demonstrates a readiness for field duty. The candidate must be able to show competency in many skill areas including patient assessment, managing cardiac arrest, spinal immobilization, bleeding control, and shock management.


The Psychomotor Exam is not given by the NREMT, so the EMT-B is responsible for setting up their exam times. EMT course instructors should give students information on where to take the Psychomotor Exam because these tests are coordinated by educational institutions or the State EMS Office.


Advanced emergency medical personnel can find information on how to locate a psychomotor exam site for their certifications on the NREMT site. For information on Paramedic exams check out Paramedic Testing page.

EMT Certification Requirements


Before applying for the National Registry of EMT Certification there are a few requirements. They are:

• Applicant should be 18 years of age or older (there are a few states that allow younger).


• Candidate must have completed a state approved EMT course within the past two years.


• Applicant must have a current “Healthcare Provider” CPR-BLS (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation – Basic Life Support).


• Candidate needs to successfully pass both sections of the NREMT Exams. Both the Cognitive and Psychomotor portions need to be completed within the last 12 months.


EMS Responsibilities


After getting certified as an Emergency Medical Services Personnel a candidate has certain responsibilities. The NREMT expects certified EMTs to be responsible for their own certification and notify the National Registry in regards to any of the following:


• A change in mailing address, which can be done on your user profile page.
• Any criminal conviction
• Disciplinary action in any state that causes interruption of licensure or right to practice.

How To Become EMT Certified


How to get an EMT certification may vary from state to state, but there are some guidelines set by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Along with those set standards, there are some other things an individual can do to increase their ability to successfully get certified on the first attempt.


This 13 Steps to EMT Certification infographic lists out recommendations to follow both before and after getting EMT certified. Each step is explained in more detail below.  


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Below are 13 steps for getting and keeping EMT certification.


1. CPR CertificationBLS-CPR for “Healthcare Providers” (Basic Life Support – Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) is a pre-requisite for EMT courses. It will need to be taken before a candidate can apply to some EMT classes.


This CPR class is a good introduction into emergency response scenarios and can be taken in one afternoon. In California these BLS-CPR classes are about 4 hours long, can be taken through the local American Red Cross for $85, and the certification lasts for two years.


Topics covered in this course include learning how to perform CPR, using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), and treatments for obstructed airways.


2. Check Local Ambulances For Ride Alongs: Going on an ambulance ride along as a civilian is not guaranteed, but many private Ambulance companies do allow citizen ride alongs – especially to future EMTs.


If you have never been exposed to emergency medicine, this might be a good time to do an ambulance ride along. Experiencing what it’s like to respond to emergency scenes and provide patient care can be motivating before committing to an EMT school.


Many facilities allow prospective students to ride along as an observer. Call local ambulance companies and let them know you want to start a career as an emergency medical responder and would like to know if they allow civilian ride alongs. Tell them you have already taken your BLS-CPR Healthcare provider class so they know you are serious about becoming a Basic EMT.


Some companies only allow students affiliated with a school to ride along so don’t take it personal if they won’t allow a civilian ride along. If they approve you, make sure you ask if there is a required dress (usually a polo shirt and navy blue or black pants) and try to maintain a friendly but professional attitude.

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