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How Long Does It Take to Become a Paramedic

In emergency medical services (EMS), there are a few types of professionals to care for those who are sick or injured before they might go to a hospital. A couple of the providers who care for patients in these pre-hospital situations are Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics.

What is an Emergency Medical Technician, EMT?

An EMT is most often recognized as the person driving the ambulance to transport people to a hospital, but EMTs are also trained to assist Paramedics in the field with emergencies and urgent care.

What is a Paramedic?

A Paramedic is the person who, in an emergency, provides a series of advanced life support (ALS) skills to help someone who is sick or injured. More specifically, a Paramedic may provide medications, conduct and interpret scans of heart rhythms, open airways through complicated procedures, and take an assessment of the patient to report to the hospital or emergency care center while the EMT is driving. You can learn how to become an EMT or paramedic in the steps below.

How to become an EMT or paramedic

EMT Training

To become a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in the United States, follow these steps:

1. Earn a high school diploma or GED

Candidates for certification must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or GED to get certified. Candidates may also be subjected to a criminal background check or asked to disclose criminal convictions when applying for certification.

2. Complete an approved class to receive a CPR Certification for Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Providers.

It is required that emergency medical services providers have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training to care for patients.

3. Enroll in one of the full EMT education programs that meet the National Emergency Medical Services Education Standards.

When evaluating which program is right for you, be sure to check that the program is CAAHEP Accredited, like our Texarkana College Emergency Medical Technology program, so you know it is a quality program that will meet the standards to get you certified.

4. Successfully complete the EMT Basic Training Program and receive verification from the Training Program Director on the National Registry website

As you complete the EMT Basic Training Program and EMT courses, you make connections with potential co-workers, mentors, or employers who could play a role in your career once you finish. Make the most of your opportunities to help increase your job options!

5. Successfully complete an approved psychomotor (skills) exam

This exam evaluates that you know how to practice the skills and physical abilities required of a certified EMT. The psychomotor exam may be conducted as a part of the EMT Basic Training Program you selected. The Texarkana College Emergency Medical Technology program prepares you for and guides you to successfully pass this exam. Speak with the Training Program Director for more information.

6. Apply online to take the EMT National Registry Exam.

As part of the Texarkana College Emergency Medical Technology Program, our knowledgeable instructors are here to guide you through the process of applying to the National Registry and help you schedule your certification exam.

  1. You will first create an account on the National Registry website.
  2. Create an application & select the EMT level. Verify your personal information and make any necessary changes.
  3. Pay the application fee.
  4. Monitor the progress of your application on your National Registry account online. Once your status is “Ready to Test” you can contact a Pearson Vue Testing Center to schedule your certification exam.
  5. You can find more information on the applying to the National Registry here.

7. Complete your Cognitive National Registry Exam online at a certified Pearson Vue Testing Center.

The Cognitive Exam is computer adaptive, meaning that with each question you answer, the test gets easier or more difficult. The number of questions you receive will be determined by how successfully or unsuccessfully you answer the questions presented to you. You have 2 hours to complete the Cognitive Exam. You will receive your Cognitive Exam Scores online through your National Registry account within two business days of completing the test, provided you’ve met all other registration requirements.

8. Obtain licensure in the state (or states) you want to work in

Once you are nationally certified, you can apply for state licensure to practice as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) in the state or states you want to work in. National certification is not a license to practice. The state regulations for licensure and the ability to practice within that state vary by location. Your EMT Training Program Director can help you find information on the licensure requirements for your area.

Once you are licensed, you can begin applying for jobs as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT).

Paramedic Training

To become a certified Paramedic, follow these steps:

1. Complete an approved EMT Basic Training Program

You must be a certified and licensed Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) to start training to become a Paramedic.

2. Enroll in a CAAHEP-accredited Paramedic Program that meets or exceeds the National Emergency Medical Services Education Standards for Paramedic.

Within the Paramedic Program, candidates will master skills and develop a portfolio of mastered skills to qualify for certification. The program will track each candidate’s skills and the phases of development in the laboratory, clinical, and field internship settings to ensure they are prepared to practice in an actual emergency environment. Texarkana College helps students build their skill sets and keep up with everything they master throughout the program to ensure they are prepared for the psychomotor exam and a career as a Paramedic.

3. Successfully complete the Paramedic Program and receive verification from the Training Program Director on the National Registry website

4. Have a current CPR Certification for Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Providers or Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) for Healthcare Providers.

It is required that emergency medical services providers have cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training to care for patients.

5. Successfully complete an approved psychomotor (skills) exam.

This exam evaluates that you know how to practice the skills and physical abilities required of a certified Paramedic. The Texarkana College Emergency Medical Technology program prepares you for and guides you to successfully pass this exam. Speak with the Training Program Director for more information.

6. Apply online to take the Paramedic National Registry Exam.

As part of the Texarkana College Emergency Medical Technology Program, our knowledgeable instructors are here to guide you through the process of applying to the National Registry and help you schedule your certification exam.

  1. You will first create an account on the National Registry website.
  2. Create an application & select the Paramedic level. Verify your personal information and make any necessary changes.
  3. Pay the application fee.
  4. Monitor the progress of your application on your National Registry account online. Once your status is “Ready to Test” you can contact a Pearson Vue Testing Center to schedule your certification exam.
  5. You can find more information on the applying to the National Registry here.

7. Complete your Cognitive National Registry Exam online at a certified Pearson Vue Testing Center.

The Cognitive Exam is computer adaptive, meaning that with each question you answer, the test gets easier or more difficult. The number of questions you receive will be determined by how successfully or unsuccessfully you answer the questions presented to you. You have 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete the Cognitive Exam. You will receive your Cognitive Exam Scores online through your National Registry account within two business days of completing the test, provided you’ve met all other registration requirements.

8. Get licensed in the state (or states) you want to work in

Once you are nationally certified, you can apply for state licensure to practice as a Paramedic in the state or states you want to work in. National certification is not a license to practice.
The state regulations for licensure and the ability to practice within that state vary by location. Your Paramedic Training Program Director can help you find information on the licensure requirements for your area.
Once you are licensed, you can use your National Registry Certification and State License to apply for paramedic jobs.

How long does it take to become an EMT or paramedic?

The time required to become an EMT or paramedic varies by the program you select and how quickly you master the skills necessary for certification and licensure. Though the steps seem time-intensive, training can be completed fast and you can finish a certificate in a year, or you can earn an Associate of Applied Science Degree in as little as four semesters!

Benefits of becoming an EMT or Paramedic

1. Helping others

EMTs and paramedics work as a team to take care of and transport patients to the hospital in some of the most critical moments of their lives. Whether it’s helping your co-worker treat a patient, helping a patient by treating them directly, or helping the patient’s family members understand what to do, working in emergency medical services offers a variety of ways to help others.

2. Great opportunities for career advancement and skills development

Some use their experiences working as an Emergency Medical Technician or Paramedic to enter graduate-level medical fields such as Physician Assistant studies, medical school, dental school, and others. Many firefighters are expected to be certified EMTs or paramedics, so some work dual jobs for fire departments and ambulance services to make extra money.

3. Salary

Salaries in the Texarkana area start around $30,750 per year for Emergency Medical Technicians and grow to $43,900 per year for those who complete additional training to become a Paramedic.

4. Flexible Schedule

Most paid EMTs and paramedics work full time and in shifts of either 12 or 24 hours. This can be beneficial for those who would like to work four days per week and have three day weekends. Whether it is an ambulance service, local government entity, or hospital, the schedules vary, but the longer shifts allow full time hours to accumulate quickly, so it is easier to get longer weekends.

5. Energetic and Active Career

Every day as an emergency medical technician or paramedic is different. The environments, locations, and people you’re assisting change hourly. If you like to face different scenarios and experience new things, a career in emergency medical services would be a great fit for you.

6. Make an impact on people’s lives every day

If people need emergency medical services, they are likely at an important moment in their lives, and you have the opportunity to play a role in making it as positive as possible. You can make an impact on multiple people’s lives, every day, even with quick interactions.

What skills do I need to be an EMT or Paramedic

  1. Quick thinking
  2. Critical thinking
  3. Physical strength and fitness
  4. Emotional and mental composure
  5. Professionalism
  6. Problem Solving
  7. Compassion
  8. Ethical Decision Making
  9. Time Management
  10. Safety Awareness
  11. Cultural Awareness
  12. Technical Proficiency

Our EMT Paramedic Instructors are experienced, friendly, and ready to help you on your way to an exciting career in emergency medical services. Completing a certificate in Emergency Medical Technology from Texarkana College is a great way to get quality training fast, so you can enter an energetic and steady career helping others in your community. Do you think a career as a paramedic or emergency medical technician is for you? Start exploring your training options with Texarkana College.


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