EMS certification requires an individual to have education beyond a high school diploma. In most cases, especially to advance to the highest level of an EMT, a degree at or beyond an Associate Degree is required. Though each state and country will vary in pre-requisites for applying to a program, most paramedic schools follow the same basic requirements. Stipulations for admittance, as well as the application process, will also vary so it helps to do some research before applying to any program.
Typically these requirements must be met before entrance into courses can be obtained:
- Each applicant must be a minimum of 18 years old to apply
- High school diploma or the equivalent
- Proof of up-to-date immunization records including Tuberculosis, Rubella, Measles, Mumps and Varicella are needed. TB shots cannot be older than six months from the start of class
- Hepatitis C vaccination series need to be completed, or a form stating you don’t wish to take part in the vaccination is required before the start of EMS courses
- Satisfactory completion of a college level English and Math course
- Proof of a “passing” physical exam- no older than one year
- A clean background check and proof of medical insurance
Within the EMS field there are four levels.
The first level begins with EMT 1, and continues through EMT 2, EMT 3, and then Paramedic, which is the most advanced degree. If you are beginning your training with plans to make paramedics your career, you’ll want to find a school that can take you through all 4 levels. If you are already working as an EMT basic, find a school or courses for your present level, making certain the EMS course program allows you to advance from your current EMS level to the level of paramedic. For instance, a hospital may offer EMT training, but it may not certify beyond a First Responder or EMT Basic level. There are many schools and EMS courses that do not advance beyond an Basic, and this can be a problem when it comes to transferring certification to another school or program. Regardless of what institution or program you choose, it is crucial you know what level of certification you desire and what career path you choose before enrolling in any program.
EMS education programs can be taken at a college, university, technical school, and even hospitals. To become a certified paramedic an exam is administered, therefore picking a school that offers hands on instruction in a clinical setting is vital. It is also important the school or courses you choose are accredited for certification within your state or country. This is pertinent in order to become licensed or certified within the state in which to wish to work. After you check to make sure it is accredited, check to see that the program follows the guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Online courses are becoming more available as our cyber world advances. Some of the EMS online programs consist of basic classroom courses such as biology, physiology, psychology, etc. While courses can be taken online, you will still be required to participate in clinicals at a college or university for the hands-on portion of the class. You will also continue with instruction in the field. Much of this in-field education takes place in training facilities, hospitals, private ambulance services, or fire stations. If you are planning to take on-line classes, be sure you have access to the facility you will need to complete your instruction and education.
Finally, before enrolling in any courses, take these steps and review an EMT courses check list:
- Check to see what the qualifications and overall reputation of the program is. One way to find these answers is by talking to other people who have taken paramedic training courses and are now working in the field.
- Consider cost, but do not let it be a ruling factor. You may be tempted to think that more expensive schools offer better programs than less expensive schools. This is not always the case. Keep in mind that you might qualify for financial aid which can lower the cost of the school, making it more affordable. Many careers that involve community services have educational funding grants available. Do not let cost get in the way of attending a great school.
- Choose a program that guides you through the NREMT exam. This certification test is called a National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. Currently 46 states in the U.S. require passing the NREMT exam in order to be certified. This NREMT certification is recognized in Canada and a few other countries as well.
- Become familiar with the expectations, courses and schedules of the program you choose. By preparing yourself ahead of time to be a successful student, you will not be tripped up with unexpected requirements.
While you may not want to take the time to research EMT courses and paramedic schools, keep in mind the education that you choose is a very important decision. The school or institution where you enroll can affect your job prospects, as well as how prepared you are when you go out into the field. For that reason, it is important to do the research and make the right choice before enrolling in any EMS training program.