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What degree do I need to be an EMT?

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are certified by the U. S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as EMT-B (Basic), EMT-I/85 (Intermediate), EMT-I/99 (Advanced) or EMT-P (Paramedic). In addition, each state establishes individual standards of licensure or certification of EMT training that must meet or exceed minimum requirements set by the NHTSA. Another organization called the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians offers certifying exams supported by educational guidelines set by the NHTSA. Currently, these tests are employed by 46 states, which use them as the basis for certification at more than one EMT level.

EMT Associate Degree Programs

While many EMTs complete the basic, intermediate and paramedic levels of certification as separate entities, some vocational schools and community colleges offer all three levels as part of a two-year associate degree program that includes field experience in an ambulance or real emergency room. Unlike certification programs that focus on learning the knowledge and skills directly associated with being an EMT, associate degree programs encompass general education classes that make it possible for the graduate to pursue a bachelor's degree in the medical field at a later time.

EMT Certification/Degree Courses

Lecture courses integrated with hands-on experience include:
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Treating traumatic injuries
  • Cardiac arrests, airway obstruction and other emergency situations
  • Identifying and using emergency medical technician equipment
  • Fundamentals of human biology
  • Patient assessment
  • Diseases and disorders
Moreover, earning an EMT associate's degree can facilitate attaining licensure as a Critical Care Paramedic, Wilderness EMT, Flight Paramedic or Tactical EMT.

Paramedics (EMT-Ps) are considered the highest level in the EMT profession as a pre-emergency room/hospital medical provider. Some of the tasks that paramedics are qualified to perform are administration of pharmaceuticals, fluid resuscitation, 12-lead and continuous cardiac monitoring and gaining IV access. Alternately, Tactical EMTs are not "on call" to be dispatched if someone needs emergency medical assistance. Instead, they mainly work with SWAT teams and learn specialized knowledge about responding to terrorist attacks, combat casualty procedures, hostage survival situations and treating victims of riot control agents.


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