What to know before pursuing an EMT career


Knowing from the start what career path to follow can be easy for some and hard for others. Some are good at math while others enjoy literature. And some people possess an innate sense of helping people in need, being vigilant, observative of their surroundings, quick to action, and alert.

An emergency medical technician, often known under the name of an ambulance technician or, why not, a real-life hero, provides first-line emergency medical care for injured and sick patients.

The medical and healthcare occupations in the United States of America are incredibly diverse and share different characteristics. Therefore, you should think twice before deciding what career in healthcare best suits you. Read below for more details on what being an EMT is all about.

The difference between an EMT and a paramedic

You may have wondered how the jobs of a paramedic and EMT differ because they are often the first to respond when someone calls 991. It might look like they are doing the same job because they share the same uniforms or environment, be it ambulances, helicopters, industrial safety and fire departments. But the difference lies in their education level and the complexity of the procedures performed.

As an EMT student, you must complete the EMR (emergency medical responder) program to get the EMT certification. Next, you can further your career by being certified as an Advanced Emergency Medical Technician and, last but not least, get a paramedic certificate.

On the other hand, paramedics complete a two to three years training program, meaning they take 1,200 to 1,800 additional hours of training that allows them to provide more advanced life support to patients, such as manual defibrillation and intubation. It is common for a paramedic to have previously worked as an EMT before completing their paramedic training. Depending on the location, experience and level of training, the difference between an EMT’s and a paramedic’s salary is around $8.32, an EMT earns between $17.35 and $23.41 per hour whereas a paramedic gains from $25.67 to $37.31 hourly.  

Education and training

All American states have emergency medical services institutions that govern and accredit EMT training schools. All you need to do is look the information up on their websites or simply search EMT classes near me on Google to pick the most convenient one. 

An EMT training program can be basic, intermediate or advanced and takes 120 to 300 hours. For example, EMT training NYC in the Bronx runs from 195 to 220 hours. 

Courses are held in numerous places such as universities, technical schools, community colleges and hospitals. There is a required amount of time spent in the ambulance, in the obstetrics salon, intensive care unit, emergency medicine unit and surgery salon during the course before you can take the licensure exams.  

To profess as an EMT, you need:

  • High school diploma, GED, or an accepted equivalent
  • EMT certification
  • Driver’s license
  • CEVO ambulance certificate

Important skills for EMTs  

Emergencies can put your ability to keep calm under pressure to the test. Horrifying everyday scenarios can take a toll on your mental health and wellbeing. Therefore, to avoid a mental breakdown, you need mental strength besides the physical one, agility, situational awareness and good decision-making skills.

Communication and organizational skills are just as critical. Hopefully, they will develop along with the experience, but empathy and compassion are innate essential skills that help you diffuse stressful situations and calm the injured, panicked patients down.

Careers in EMS are found on the grounds of knowledge sharing and mutual help culture and require you are a good team player.

ETM’s duties

One of the essential aspects you need to be aware of before enrolling in such a thrilling experience and commitment is the responsibilities you bear. You will work out of the office, and chaos will follow you wherever you are. These are some of the duties you have as an EMT:

  • Respond to calls when accidents, fires, shootings, injuries and falls happen
  • Respond to calls for chronic health conditions, heart attacks, strokes, septic shocks, hypothermia, asthma attacks and allergic reactions
  • Assess the nature of the emergency and the patient’s condition and report to the ER staff the care that the patient received

Benefits of being an EMT:

This job is thrilling, challenging, and anything but dull. And it can be pretty rewarding too! Hard work pays off with regards to:

  • The training program can take as less as one year (approximately 150 hours of courses)
  • You’ll have job stability as EMTs’ and paramedics’ job growth rate is about 23%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • The average hourly pay for an EMT was $14.91 as of May 2022, while the average pay per hour for all USA employees was $10.86 as of June 2022
  • You can have EMT-Advanced additional training.

Disadvantages of being an EMT:

Keep in mind that this job is not for the faint-hearted and not anyone is suitable for this career path. Besides the positive aspects of this profession, you also need to take note of the downsides too:

  • You will engage in a lot of physical activity and the older you get, the harder it gets
  • You can feel drained out at times and still have to meet patients’ needs the best way you can
  • You will see lots of terrifying scenes: stabs, shot patients, lots of blood, patients that have lost a limb, dead bodies
  • Some of the patients can be dangerous
  • Some shifts can be longer than 12 hours.


Working as an EMT can be complicated and challenging, but what job is easy? This career path can be both physically and mentally exhausting, and it can interfere with your personal life and make it hard to spend time with your family at times. But it will give you room to grow, train and outperform yourself as well. Be sure you will never have boring and repetitive days.

You can apply for an EMT training program if you already have a job, but you would like to switch to the medical sector and don’t want to spend much time in school. Assess your aptitudes, strengths and weaknesses before you decide to pursue an EMT career. And if you possess the required skills and want an exciting job, consider applying for an EMT training program.

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