Certified EMT: Career and Salary Facts
Are you calm under pressure? Can you act quickly to make life and death decisions? Read on to find out more about the career track of a certified EMT. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Are Emergency Medical Technicians?
Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are often the first people on the scene of a medical emergency. As an EMT, you assess the situation and perform triage. You may also stabilize patients before and during transport by managing airways, controlling bleeding, treating shock and providing CPR.
The United States Department of Transportation (US-DOT) recognizes five EMT levels; you can begin at either the first responder or EMT-Basic level. The next level is EMT-Intermediate 85, followed by Advanced EMT, followed by EMT-Intermediate 99. The highest level is EMT-Paramedic.
How Can I Get Started?
First responder and EMT training programs are often available at local community or technical colleges. Due to the hands-on nature of the profession, most programs are only available on campus.
Your program should be approved by the state in which you want to work and should prepare you to take your state's licensure exam. When applying to a program, you can expect a background check and drug test. In addition, you're required to be at least 18 years old at the time you complete your training. Some programs require EMT students to be certified in CPR prior to enrollment.
How Can I Get Certified?
All 50 states and the District of Columbia require that EMTs and paramedics be licensed. In some states, licensure depends on certification by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). The NREMT certifies EMTs based on US-DOT guidelines. Exams for each EMT level require completion of both written and skills tests. In order to maintain state licensure or NREMT certification, you often need to take a certain number of continuing education courses every 2-3 years. Some schools offer these courses online.
How Much Can I Make?
Salaries vary depending on your level and geographic region. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly wage for EMTs and paramedics was $16.01 as of May 2010; the average salary was $33,300. During this time, EMTs in the District of Columbia earned the highest average salaries in the country at $49,870. Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington also pay their EMTs some of the highest wages in the nation.
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