EMT Training - Become an Emergency Medical Technician

EMT Certification


3. Meet State Requirements: Meeting state requirements will be important in order to get admitted into state approved EMT training courses. Each state may have it’s own age requirements but the majority require a candidate to be 18 years or older. Other requirements may be having a High School Diploma, GED or Equivalent.


There is more information about this on our EMT Programs page under the heading “Requirements For EMT Program.”


4. Enroll In EMT School: Once you have met state requirements you are ready to enroll in an EMT training program. Before enrollment candidates must decide which training program they are most interested in (Basic EMT, Advanced EMT, Paramedic).


After choosing a program the candidate will need to decide what type of EMT course they prefer (Online/hybrid, Accelerated, Standard). For information about EMT training classes and programs check out our EMT Courses page. There are many programs and courses available at a wide range of costs to help students achieve their goals.


5. Join EMS Forums: Go online and find forums or chat rooms for Emergency Medical Service (EMS) personnel, or more specifically EMT’s and become a member of the online EMT community. Joining EMS forums also allow you the freedom to ask questions and get a variety of opinions from medical professionals.


Being a member of an online EMS community can also be helpful later when you are taking classes and need information from experienced emergency medical responders who know what to do during a medical crisis.


6. Attend EMT Classes And Do The Work: An important part of EMT training is to keep up with the assigned reading material. Plan on attending every class and study your skill sheets. EMS is literally life and death students often don’t recognize how a patient experiences each interaction. Practice patient assessment over and over until you are comfortable, it’s a skill you will use constantly.


EMT assessing patient white background

Don’t be afraid to mess up – this may seem counterintuitive, but EMT school is the best time to learn and sometimes that means messing up. As long as you are doing the work, no instructor will blame you for making mistakes.


Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Instructors, preceptors, and healthcare professionals are happy to help students. Remember they don’t mind helping, but they don’t want to feel like they are babysitting.


Quick Tip: The first day of class can be very overwhelming. Instructors go over the syllabus, guidelines, requirements, and then tell you how easy it is to fail the course. Don’t get discourage and quit! This is your first chance to face fear and move forward anyway. EMS professionals become experts at overcoming fear, showing up for your second day of class is good practice at this. P.S. It gets easier. 


7. Learn From The Professionals: Once EMT training begins you will have opportunities to learn from professional emergency medical responders. Instructors for EMT classes are usually experienced Medical Technicians with extensive knowledge on EMS techniques.


Also once field training begins, candidates will be surrounded by professionals during ambulance ride alongs and hospital clinicals.


These are great opportunities to learn from on the job experience while observing Basic EMTs, Paramedics, and Nurses responding to medical trauma and treating patients. This is the time to watch how an EMT-B in the field does a patient assessment and learn techniques to provide good patient care.


Don’t just show up to field training and sit through it to get required hours. Stay engaged and mentally ask questions during ride alongs and hospital clinical.


For example, during an ambulance ride along if the patient complains of difficulty breathing during the patient assessment. Ask yourself:

Would I do an intervention? Would I apply Oxygen? Would I apply a mask or nasal cannula?


Next watch what the professional EMT does to intervene. If the experienced EMT intervenes differently than what you chose, wait until after the call is over and ask why they did that intervention. This is a great way to learn critical thinking skills.


8. Practice Assessment Skills: After EMT training starts, students will be given skill sheets that have very specific requirements. Some of these skill sheets will pertain to patient assessment skills like the primary and secondary assessments.


The primary assessment helps emergency responders get an overall impression of a patients status and detect immediate threats to a patients life. The secondary assessment is longer with a focused history and head to toe examination of the patient.


Know these patient assessment skills and practice them using the sheets until you don’t need the skill sheet anymore. Every patient you approach will undergo some type of assessment so these are good skill to be comfortable with.

EMT Certification Practical Skills

It’s also important to be able to complete the patient assessments in the expected time periods and to know what conditions indicate immediate transport of the patient. Assessment skills are a must for emergency medical responders and will be tested for during EMT certification.


9. Apply For Cognitive Exam On NREMT Site: After successful completion of EMT training, students will need to get their EMT certification through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). In order to get an EMT certification the student must pass two exams.


The Cognitive Exam is a written exam and you can apply for it on the NREMT website. After going to their website you will be asked to create an account and will then create a new application. After filling out the forms you will pay the $80 testing fee.


Next you will get instructions to set up an account with Pearson VUE in order to find a testing center date, time, and location of your choice.


10. Pass NREMT Cognitive And Psychomotor Exams: The psychomotor portion will often be completed by practical exams during the final stages of an EMT course. If it’s not done at your educational institution, they will give you information on where to go for the exam.


The NREMT does not administer the psychomotor portion of the exam, it is coordinated by each State’s Local EMS Office or at educational institutions.


The Cognitive Exam will cover all major content, but according to the National Registry they break the content up into five sections and give each section a percentage of points.


The five content sections are EMS Operations, Trauma, Airway; Respiration and Ventilation, Cardiology and Resuscitation, and Medical; Obstetrics and Gynecology. For more information on these exams, check out our National Registry of EMT testing page.


If you don’t pass the cognitive portion of the National Registry Exam, it can be taken a total of three times before you have to retake your EMT training.


However, if you fail the first attempt it’s important to take time to restudy the material before retaking the exam. Candidates should also get more familiar with the computer adaptive testing (CAT) format used to administer the test if they fail.


Before attempting the NREMT Cognitive exam make sure to check out our guide with 10 Expert Tips for Passing.


11. Get EMT Certification And License: After passing both portions of the NREMT Exam, candidates will be mailed a letter congratulating them on passing both these examinations. The letter will also indicate the candidate has been awarded their National EMS Certification at the Emergency Medical Technician Level.


Enclosed with the letter will be the EMT certificate, EMT certification card, and an embroidered emblem (a patch). Once a candidate has a National EMT certification, they need to contact their state EMS office for instructions on how to obtain a state license/certification.


All EMT’s must have a state license card issued before they are allowed practice EMS in the field. After contacting (going to their website is a good way to contact) the State EMS Office to apply for a state EMT certification/license, the candidate may have to get fingerprints for a background check, pay a fee, or meet other requirements.


Each state has its own standards so they vary. After all the requirements are met the candidate will be assigned an EMT number from the State Central Registry and an Emergency Medical Technician Card will be issued. At this point the candidate is employable and can begin working as an emergency responder.

EMT gurney in ambulance


Check out our page about types of jobs available to licensed Emergency Medical Technicians. There is also good information about how much money an EMT earns on our EMT Salary page.


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