Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)


Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are dispatched in an ambulance to emergency medical calls in a local region. Their snap actions can mean life or death for their patients. EMTs work in teams when transporting patients to hospital emergency rooms. One EMT drives the ambulance while another administers medical attention en route. EMTs can also be called upon after an initial emergency to transfer patients to a more specialized hospital or long-term care facility.

Once basic EMTs gain more training, they promote to advanced EMTs and then paramedics. Each position is allowed to perform a certain level of medical attention. Advanced EMTs can administer intravenous fluids and specific medications and paramedics can operate complex equipment such as electrocardiograms (EKGs) to monitor heart function.

EMTs and paramedics work alongside each other in full time positions. They work in 12 or 24-hour shifts, and applicants should be prepared to work nights, weekends and holidays especially when starting out. EMTs must have enough physical strength to secure patients to backboards and lift them in and out of an ambulance. They must also remain calm in chaotic situations and have a strong stomach to be a first responder.


EMT applicants must have a high school diploma and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification before applying to a postsecondary educational program, which last up to two years.  Most paramedics need an associate’s degree and 1,200 hours of instruction. The program classes are hands-on and are offered at community colleges and technical schools. All EMTs and paramedics must state-licensed and certified by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. The certification includes both a written and practical exam.


An EMT’s salary averages $31,000 per year, but the top 10 percent earned more than $53,000 each year. About 1 in 3 EMTs worked more than a full time 40 hours per week, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are often volunteer EMTs in small or rural cities, and career EMTs are employed in more urban areas.


EMTs and paramedics held 239,000 jobs in 2012. Ambulance companies employ 48 percent of EMTs, government employs 30 percent and hospitals employ 17 percent.  Jobs are expected to grow 23 percent by 2022, much faster than the nation’s average. As populations grow, so will the demand for more paramedics. Large cities will increase their numbers, and regions with smaller populations will need to switch from volunteers to career paramedics. With a continually aging population, more EMTs will be in demand to respond to emergency medical situations.

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