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EMT and Paramedic Certification

In order to prepare emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics for the rigors of the profession, these workers are required to obtain either a national or state certification depending on the requirements of the state they work in. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov), some states allow these professionals to work if they have earned a certification issued by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT), which requires that they pass an education program and examination. In other states, however, EMTs and paramedics may be required to take a test specifically administered by that state. Additional requirements to obtain a license may include undergoing a background check or completing a course on how to drive an ambulance.

Educational requirements

Before enrolling in an EMT or paramedic degree program, students must first complete a high school diploma or its equivalent. During high school, students are encouraged to take courses that will help them gain a fundamental understanding of the human body, such as anatomy and physiology. In addition, students are also required to earn a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification to be admitted into and paramedic or EMT program.

According to the BLS, EMTs and paramedics can begin their career path after they have either completed a non-degree certificate program that may take less than one year to complete, or an associate degree program that may be finished within about two years. These programs are available through community colleges, technical schools and emergency medical technology training facilities.

There are different levels of education required for emergency medical workers depending on what job these professionals wish to pursue. Basic EMT instruction -- which covers topics such as how to deal with cardiac emergencies, how to use medical equipment, and how to assess what kind of care a patient needs -- takes about 150 hours to complete. Advanced EMT education, which builds on basic training courses, teaches students about more complicated medical care techniques and takes about 300 hours of instruction to complete.

Paramedics have the highest educational requirements as they are expected to complete basic and advanced EMT instruction, as well as training that teaches them more advanced medical skills. These programs are generally associate degree level and can take at least 1,200 hours to complete.

Benefits of EMT/paramedic certification

Although specific requirements may vary from state to state, all EMTs and paramedics are required to earn a license in order to get employment. In some states, receiving a certificate from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) -- which entails taking courses and an examination -- is enough become licensed. Other states also require that candidates pass a state examination. In addition, paramedics and EMTs may be required to pass a background check.

Sources:

EMTs and Paramedics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/emts-and-paramedics.htm

What's the Difference Between an EMT and a Paramedic?, UCLA Center for Prehospital Care, Accessed May 25, 2014, https://www.cpc.mednet.ucla.edu/node/27

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