Home Jobs & Education How Long Does It Take to Be an EMT?

EMTs, or Emergency Medical Technicians, are patient care providers on an entry-level. They’re the first to respond in case of an accident or some other medical emergency. They help the other medical personnel keep patients stable and transport them to the hospital. Does this sound like a job that you’d want to have? Then you might be curious to find out how long does it take to be an EMT. This is precisely what we’re going to be answering today, by looking at the training you have to go through as an EMT, and the license you have to get.

emergency medical technicians in uniform

How Long Does It Take to Be an EMT?

The answer to this question depends on the certification level you intend on pursuing. There are three certification levels for EMTs, each of which indicates the EMT’s job responsibilities as well as privileges:

  • Basic (entry level)
  • Intermediate or Advanced
  • Paramedic

Each of these certifications is regulated by the state and administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). The latter is a professional certification body that works with states on EMT licensing matters.

So, how long does it take to be an EMT? Moving up the career ladder, most students can expect to study about half a year full-time in order to become an EMT–Basic, half a year to become an EMT–Advanced, and 1 to 2 years to become a Paramedic. However, individual states decide the scope of practice and the minimum required duration of EMT training.

Becoming an EMT

Duration by Certification Level

Now that we’ve told you how long does it take to be an EMT, it’s time to take a closer look at the amount of time you’ll have to spend in training in order to get each certification level. For instance, it can take just a few weeks to complete the training leading to an EMT–Basic certification. Still, many beginner programs last several months, more precisely the equivalent of a college semester. Together, the Basic EMT training and certification take around 5 to 6 months to complete. Advanced EMT training occurs according to a similar timeframe. For the last type of certification, namely the Paramedic one, you need to study another 12 to 24 months full-time.

We urge you to keep in mind these are just estimates; the real amount of time it takes to become an EMT ultimately depends on the specific requirements of the state-of-practice. Additionally, it may take several more months following training to apply for a license, take the certification exams, and wait for confirmation. Aspiring EMTs should check with the state EMS Authority or Bureau for precise benchmarks.

EMT Training

EMT courses are offered through vocational certificate programs, community colleges, and sometimes fire departments or other emergency services. Normally, there are several scheduling options, ranging from just one day to every day of the week. Basic training covers topics like cardiac and respiratory emergencies, disaster EMS, and critical injuries. Some programs require CPR certification before admission.

Some training programs are all-inclusive, meaning they provide both Basic EMT and Paramedic training at once. Employers may also offer in-house education to give beginner EMTs the opportunity to promote to the AEMT or Paramedic level. Because it can take up to 2 years to qualify for a Paramedic certification, many students simply earn a 2-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Emergency Medical Technology to get their Paramedic training. Associate programs typically include general education coursework as well.

EMT work experience can be a bridge to a more advanced medical career. Common postsecondary degrees pursued by technicians include bachelors in Paramedicine, Emergency Health Sciences, Health Sciences, Public Health, and Disaster Management.

State Licensure

After finishing Basic training, students must apply for a license to practice. Approved programs are usually set up to help graduates navigate their state’s licensing process. Licensure typically requires passing certification exams administered by the NREMT. The authorities may also require a current ambulance driver’s license, a DMV medical form, a CPR card, and a background check.

Bottom Line

How long does it take to be an EMT? The answer differs according to different factors, such as the state where you want to practice this job, the certification level you want to acquire, and whether or not you want to pursue a more advanced career.

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