EMT Qualifications

States have varying requirements for EMT licensing.
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An EMT or emergency medical technician has a fast-paced, high-adrenalin job that is suited to those who can remain calm under duress and maintain a high degree of compassion for other people. Meeting the qualifications to become an EMT involves completing a rigorous training program and obtaining a state license.

Skills Needed

An EMT must be someone who can be supportive of a patient even during tense situations, when lives are on the line. The job also calls for good listening and interpersonal skills to understand the situation at hand and give the best possible care to someone in a life threatening situation. Problem solving abilities are paramount for an EMT who must quickly assess a patient’s condition and determine the best means of medical care. Physical stamina is important for the lifting and bending required when working with patients.

Education Qualifications

To qualify as an EMT, requisite education and field training is mandatory. Requirements differ depending on the program, but those who wish to enroll must meet a minimum age requirement and have a high school diploma or equivalent. Coursework on the essentials of recognizing life-threatening emergencies is likely to be part of the training process. An EMT may need to meet certain health requirements, pass a physical exam and have a no criminal record.


One option to become an EMT is to attend a two-year college. Alternative methods of training include entering a program administered by a police department, fire department or hospital. A typical basic level program includes hands on training. An EMT should be certified in CPR and be prepared to learn how to clear a patient’s airways so he can breath. Hands-on experience includes learning the proper use of field equipment in emergency situations and dealing with cardiac arrest and trauma situations. Training will likely be a combination of developing hands-on skills, attending lectures and taking part in clinical training via "ride-along" sessions.


Certification through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians -- also known as NREMT -- is an important step toward qualifying as an EMT. This national level exam has a written portion and a practical component. It's advisable to investigate how many graduates from a particular program pass this licensing exam when choosing a program. For those who pass the national exam, most states accept the results as qualification to become an EMT. Some states require a separate exam.

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