Emergency Medical Technician

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Related roles: First Responder, EMT, EMT – Basic, EMT – Intermediate, Paramedic, Flight Paramedic


Similar Titles

First Responder, EMT, EMT – Basic, EMT – Intermediate, Paramedic, Flight Paramedic

Job Description

EMTs respond to emergency calls, perform medical services and transport patients to medical facilities. 

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • Helping people every day! 
  • Everyday is a different day. 
  • The rush! 

“Helping others! The best is when you actually see the thankful people later. Sometimes I’d bump into people I’ve cared for at the store or something. I had a lady hug me once and told me I was an angel because I picked her husband up several times when he was having withdrawals.  Getting cardiac arrest patients back feels awesome…Breaking down doors or windows to get to patients is always cool.” Nidya Lopez, EMT

The Inside Scoop
Day in the Life

Note: Varies between stations. 

  • 0600: Shift change. Receive outgoing report. Clean/Check equipment. Check supply and medicine inventory.
  • 0600-0700: Clean station
  • 0700-0800: Breakfast
  • 0800-1200: Training/Personal time
  • 1200-1300: Lunch
  • 1300-1800: Training/Personal Time/Work out
  • 1800-1900: Dinner
  • 1900-0545: Personal time/Sleep
  • 0545: Wake up tones 

The above schedule obviously does not include the average 10-20 calls per day that are split between the fire stations in the area. The time spent on a call can vary from 30 minutes to several hours or more and may involve one or two engines or every piece of available apparatus. This can have a significant impact on the schedule for the day and many times training or maintenance must be rescheduled to another day. 

Job Responsibilities
  • Responds to 911 calls for emergency medical assistance, such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or bandaging a wound.
  • Assesses a patient’s condition and determines a course of treatment.
  • Follows guidelines that they learned in training and that they receive from physicians who oversee their work.
  • Uses backboards and restraints to keep patients still and safe in an ambulance for transport.
  • Help stransfer patients to the emergency department of a healthcare facility and reports their observations and treatment to the staff.
  • Creates a patient care report; documenting the medical care they gave the patient.
  • Replaces used supplies and check or clean equipment after use.
Skills Needed on the Job
  • Physical strength: Must be able to lift heavy objects.
  • Communication skills: Must be able to clearly articulate patient’s condition to healthcare provider to which you are transferring patient.  
  • Stress management: Must be able to deal with stress and extreme environments. 
  • Empathy and compassion: Must be able to provide emotional support patients in an emergency. 
  • Problem-solving skills under stressful situations
  • Listening skills: Must listen well to the patients to determine the injury or illness. 
  • Documentation skills: accuracy and thorough recordings of situation, injury or illness. 
Types of Emergency Medical Service

1. 911 services: Integrated into fire departments and respond to emergencies.
2. Transfer services: Transfers patients between hospitals and other care facilities. 

Modes of transport: ambulance, rescue vehicle, helicopter, fixed-wing aircraft, motorcycle, or fire suppression apparatus (aka fire truck).

Expectations/Sacrifices Necessary
  • You are on the front line: You are pre-hospital care so you will see all types situations (trauma, gunshot victim, gruesome accidents...etc.). 
  • Dangerous and life-threatening.
  • Irregular and long hours when on call. 
What kinds of things did people in this career enjoy doing when they were younger…
  • Liked the outdoors.
  • Liked helping people in need. 
  • Attracted to adrenaline-filled activities. 
2016 Employment
2026 Projected Employment
Education Needed
What to do in HS and college
  • In high school, stock up on classes such as anatomy and physiology
  • Sign up for an EMT training program that works for your schedule. The more hands-on training you can get, the better, but plenty of the subject matter can be effectively learned remotely
  • Remember, you aren’t just learning to pass tests but to help save lives in real-world situations 
  • Knock out your American Heart Association’s Basic Life Support CPR course and make sure it is still valid when applying for jobs. Certification is good for two years, then a renewal class must be taken
  • EMT field internships may be a way for qualified students to gain experience 
  • Engage in routine physical exercise to build the strength and stamina needed for long shifts
  • EMTs treat a wide range of patients under stressful circumstances. Become familiar with other cultures so you can ensure good communications 
    • In particular, knowing Spanish can give you an advantage in many employment situations
  • Learn tips for staying calm under pressure and for helping patients stay calm, too
Education Stats
  • 17% with HSDiploma
  • 20% with Associate’s
  • 12.7% with Bachelor’s
  • 1.6% with Master’s
  • 1.1% with Doctoral
Typical Roadmap
Emergency Medical Technician roadmap gif
Landing the Job
  • If possible, apply for Emergency Medical Technicians internships while still a student! Most departments will have on the job type training b/c you are required 120+ hours of ride outs or precepting (instruction) for EMT-B’s. It’s a testing phase to see where you are in skills and patient care. Work hard and make relationships when you are training at these hospitals.
  • Work hard and learn as much as you can during your intern experience. Ask your direct supervisor if they can serve as a reference when you go to apply for jobs
  • Be proficient in using all EMT-related airway equipment, trauma supplies, medical devices, IVs, syringes, splints, disinfectants, and personal protective equipment 
  • Look for jobs and internships on Indeed, Simply Hired, Glassdoor, or other job portals 
  • Ask teachers for tips on job seeking! If your school has a career center, get help with your EMT resume and practice mock interviewing skills 
  • Review sample EMT interview questions to prepare ahead of time
  • Always dress for interview success!
How to stay competitive

Having additional certifications like ACLS, ITLS, PALSAMLS, PHTLS, PEEP, BTLS make your resume more appealing. Most of those are required for paramedics and are provided by the organization after hire. 

Plan B

Alternate careers: Registered Nurse (very common), Firefighter

Words of Advice

“Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You will always work under a supervisor and they are there to assist you on those tough calls.” Nidya Lopez, EMT


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