EMT Jobs

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) provide vital and often life-saving medical care and treatment to patients when dispatched to an accident, crime scene, or other emergency situation by a 911 operator. EMTs must assess a patient’s current condition while simultaneously trying to determine if the patient has a pre-existing medical condition that could impact the treatment provided. The EMT follows strict guidelines at all times in the course of administering pre-hospital care and transport. The job of an EMT can be both exciting and rewarding.

There are a variety of career opportunities available for individuals who obtain their EMT certification. An individual’s level of EMT certification and/or post-secondary education, as well as the amount of field and clinical experience he or she has accumulated, will qualify him or her for one or more jobs in which his or her EMT skills are put to use.

Many EMTs and Paramedics work in large cities and metropolitan areas for municipal emergency medical services (EMS) departments which include fire, police, and ambulance services. Others work for individual private or commercial ambulance services. Nearly half of the EMT workforce can be found working in or driving ambulances, but EMTs also work on fire trucks, in hospital emergency rooms, and on helicopters.

EMT jobs can also expand beyond the hospital or fire house walls. Some EMTs and Paramedics work in research labs or they become EMT instructors or emergency dispatchers. Some even sell emergency medical equipment. Some EMTs are employed in the oil and gas industries in an offshore EMT position. EMTs can also work for a security company providing combined security officer and EMT services, for example in residential communities, on college campuses, in shopping malls, or in casinos.

Paramedics, those EMTs who have received the most advanced levels of training and who possess extensive clinical and field experience, can go on to become EMT supervisors or operations managers. They can also advance to administrative- or executive-director levels within a regional or municipal emergency services operation.

The pay and benefits for each EMT career will be determined by where the EMT works, the EMT’s certifications or level of post-secondary education, and the EMT’s on-the-job field and clinical experience.

Wages and Benefits

The wages and benefits of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are determined by a number of factors. The levels of EMT certification, education, and EMT experience are three important considerations that determine an EMT’s wages. Another consideration is the geographic location of the EMT job. For example, is it in an urban locale or is the job in a small rural community? Lastly, does the EMT work in a hospital, a fire department, or for a private ambulance service? All of these factors are important when determining the wages of an EMT.

At the lowest wage level are those individuals who, on an unpaid basis, volunteer their time to support their local emergency medical services (EMS) team or facility. Volunteer EMTs must be certified minimally at the EMT-Basic level. If individuals are unsuccessful at finding a paying EMT job, they may want to volunteer their services in order to gain valuable on-the-job experience that will be beneficial in subsequent searches for an EMT position. But even volunteer EMTs receive benefits such as additional training paid for by the local emergency medical services department or company, free food and parking on the college or university campus, entrance to sporting or other social events where the EMT will be on stand-by in case of an emergency,

The median annual starting salary for an EMT is approximately $29,000. EMTs with more advanced training and extensive experience can earn approximately $45,000 per year. EMTs employed by city and local governments will typically earn more than those employed by third-party (private) emergency medical services providers. Because of their advanced training and qualifications, the median annual starting salary for paramedics is approximately $39,000. With additional experience and training, paramedics can earn an average of $60,000 per year.

EMTs who work for city or local governments as part of the police or fire departments can expect to receive the same benefits as the city or town’s police officers and firefighters. These employees receive an excellent benefits package that includes paid vacation and holidays; medical, dental, and vision insurance; and a retirement savings plan. EMTs may also be covered by a pension plan that allows for retirement after 20 or 25 years of service and provides the individual with half pay. The same retirement benefits apply if the employee is injured and disabled in the line of duty.

Because the job of EMT is around-the-clock seven days a week, EMTs might also receive a shift differential pay, overtime, and a meal allowance. They will have opportunities for promotion as well. The benefits for those EMTs who are employed by private companies will vary, so the individual will need to confirm the level of benefits they will receive prior to taking an EMT job with a private company.

Recession Proof

The jobs of emergency medical technicians (EMTs), like those of other public service professions, are virtually recession proof. There will always be a need for qualified EMTs and paramedics. Fires, natural disasters, crimes, illnesses, and other emergencies will continue to occur and require emergency response, whether from police, fire fighters, or emergency medical professionals. Regarding the job outlook for EMTs, growth is expected to be aligned with that of all occupations through 2018. Several trends will contribute to continued growth and demand in the emergency medical services (EMS) profession. Individuals considering entering this profession can feel confident that, by obtaining an EMT certification, their potential job outlook will be very good.

One factor that will contribute to the growth in the EMT profession is the aging United States population, specifically the baby boomer generation. As this large segment of the population ages, there are likely to be more medical emergencies which will result in an increase in the number of calls for emergency medical services from EMTs and paramedics. Additionally, overcrowded emergency rooms can result in patients remaining in the care of the EMT or paramedic for a longer period of time, or even being diverted to a different medical facility for treatment. Both of these circumstances will require EMTs to spend additional time caring for patients, so more EMT professionals will be required to continue to meet the demand for emergency medical services.

Another factor that will contribute to growth in the EMT profession is an increasing need to transport patients from a general hospital to one that specializes in the treatment of a specific illness or injury. Many times this transport will need to occur via ambulance so that the patient’s medical condition can be monitored en route to the new facility. With this increase in inter-hospital transfers comes an increase in the need for the services of EMTs and paramedics.

While there is still a place for unpaid, volunteer EMTs in rural areas and local governments, the numbers of volunteer EMTs will decrease in some areas due to the time commitment involved in completing the necessary training. In addition, there is an increased demand for EMTs with higher levels of EMT certification. Where there are fewer volunteer EMTs, there will be a need for more qualified, paid EMTs and paramedics.

Another reason for continued growth in the EMT profession is the need to replace those EMTs currently working in the public sector who leave in search of potentially higher-paying jobs in the private sector. All of these reasons contribute to favorable job growth for the emergency medical services profession. In fact in many areas of the United States, the jobs of EMTs and paramedics are often ranked among the fastest growing professions.

Obtaining Employment as an EMT

People who enjoy helping and serving others and their community may want to consider a career as an emergency medical technician (EMT). The job of EMT can be fast-paced as EMTs work alongside police and fire fighters responding to accidents, crimes, and other situations where emergency medical treatment and ambulance services are needed.

Many emergency medical services (EMS) agencies require little more than state licensure and an EMT certification to become employed as an EMT at the Basic level. Aspiring EMTs must have a high school diploma or equivalent, be certified in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and pass a criminal background check. Advanced EMTs must possess additional EMT experience and training, and those at the Paramedic level should have their two-year Associate’s degree.

To improve your chances of obtaining a job as an EMT, you will want to obtain additional certifications in other areas of emergency medical treatment, such as Automated External Defibrillator (AED) use or pediatric care. Viable candidates should also have demonstrated experience where relevant skills were put to use. These skills include an ability to remain focused on the task at hand while in the midst of a constantly changing environment. Good judgment, excellent communication, and critical reasoning skills are valued. Make sure your resume reflects not only your formal education and training but also skills that are most relevant to the job for which you are applying.

Use all available tools to help locate job postings. A good place to start is by checking online job search engines, as you can narrow down your search to the locations where you want to work. You should also check government agency, hospital, and other company websites that often post job openings directly online. You may even learn about potential job openings by searching on networking sites and blogs, such as Facebook, where you can network with other colleagues and contacts.

Most job applications require an in-person interview. Speak with other EMTs who have already participated in the job application and interview process to gain insights into the types of questions you may be asked during an interview for an EMT job. Prepare your list of professional and personal references who can speak well of you and explain why you would be a good candidate for a particular job. By following these guidelines, you will be well on your way to obtaining the EMT job you desire.

Education Requirements

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) can put their EMT training, skills, and certifications to work in a variety of different jobs and industries. Because these jobs vary in scope, prospective employers require different levels of EMT certification depending on the position. Some jobs may require no more than an EMT certification while others may require the highest level of certification, Paramedic. Many jobs require only EMT certification, while others demand at least a two-year Associate’s or four-year Bachelor’s degree.

To obtain an entry-level job as an EMT for most ambulance services, police, and fire departments, the EMT needs to be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and have an EMT certification. This includes EMT certification by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) and state licensure. Advanced EMTs, on the other hand, must have more extensive education and training, and Paramedics require even higher levels of both. Paramedics usually have a two-year Associate’s Degree, which includes classroom coursework, field training, and hospital rotations. In addition, continuing education programs are available for all EMT levels for those professionals who wish to advance to another EMT level, change careers, or obtain their biennial recertification to maintain their ability to practice.

EMTs possess education and experience that are valuable in both emergency and non-emergency situations. Their EMT skills can qualify them for jobs in other industries such as security, law enforcement, the oil and gas industries, or any branch of the military. These jobs need people who are decisive and calm under pressure. One example of a position in the field of security is a security guard at a casino. Applicants for this type of work need to have a high school diploma or equivalent in addition to their EMT certification.

Offshore oil and gas industries hire EMTs who are certified with the NREMT and who possess ambulance experience and other certifications such as First Responder, Basic Life Support, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and Automated External Defibrillator (AED). EMTs applying to these types of offshore jobs should have demonstrated experience and competency in all life-saving procedures. Paramedics should also possess certifications in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Care and Treatment, and Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support.

EMTs in the military are also known as combat medics. These EMTs, who are also trained to return gun fire, are present on the battlefield where they provide immediate, first responder-type treatment to wounded soldiers and prepare them for full care at the medical installation. Military EMTs primarily treat traumatic injuries such as head or chest wounds, as well as treatment for blood loss. They must also perform basic life support treatment and care for soldiers at aid stations and in field hospitals. The training for combat medics includes class time, field training, and clinical work with doctors.

EMTs can also continue their education to earn a four-year Bachelor’s degree in Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Management. The coursework for this degree will supplement the EMT’s medical training with administrative and financial courses and provide the EMT with leadership skills. EMTs can also earn a Bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences. Graduates with a degree in Health Sciences can obtain a job in public health, hospitals, insurance companies, or community health agencies. This additional education results in an additional potential salary of up to $80,000.

The range of jobs for individuals with EMT certification is quite varied. Increased levels of formal education make that range even wider. EMTs or prospective EMTs should research all of the job options and decide upon the profession that will be right for them, based upon job responsibilities, levels of education and experience required, and the average salary for each one.


Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are usually the first contact a critically ill or wounded person has in terms of emergency medical treatment. EMTs must be among the first to arrive at the scene when a 911 emergency call goes out. The EMT must quickly assess the patient’s condition and stabilize him or her sufficiently to transport the patient to a medical facility. EMTs work in a team environment, typically under stressful circumstances. EMT salaries can vary widely, depending on the industry in which the EMT works and the level of EMT certification the individual has, as well as other advanced training and certifications.

The average salary and benefits of an emergency medical technician (EMT) depend on a number of factors. The level of EMT certification is one important factor that determines the EMT’s rate of pay. Another consideration is the industry in which the EMT performs his or her specific EMT duties. An EMT’s level of education and work experience will also be important in determining an EMT’s salary. Lastly, the EMT’s work location will also factor in; in general, EMTs who work in rural locations will be paid less than those who work in larger urban locations.

There are three levels of EMT certification: EMT, Advanced EMT and Paramedic. Each level of EMT certification requires a greater amount of training and education. Similarly, each level expands the amount of care an EMT can provide. Therefore, the average starting salary for each EMT level can vary somewhat.

Approximately 27% of EMTs and Paramedics belong to a union or receive wages and benefits in accordance with a union contract. The median hourly salary for EMTs and Paramedics is between $14.00 and $15.00, with the lowest 10% of EMTs being paid approximately $9.00 per hour and the top 10% being paid more than $23.00 per hour. From a total annual salary perspective, the average annual salary for EMTs at all levels of certification (except Paramedic) is approximately $32,000. An EMT can expect to make between $22,000 and $34,000 annually, while an Advanced EMT can make as much as $42,000 a year.

Full-time EMTs will often receive a benefits package that includes medical, dental, and vision insurance, healthcare, paid vacation, and, in some cases, a retirement savings plan. EMTs who work for local government agencies, police, or fire departments can expect to earn more than those EMTs employed by hospitals. Likewise, EMTs working for hospitals usually earn more than EMTs who work for private or commercial emergency and ambulance services.

Because of their higher qualifications and more advanced medical skills, the average base salary for a Paramedic can range between $28,000 and $40,000. Experienced Paramedics working for a state agency or hospital routinely earn between $50,000 and $70,000 per year.

EMTs also work in jobs one does not typically associate with an EMT, for example as a security guard on a college campus or at a residential community. Even security guards in casinos may be required to have their EMT certification; this type of security guard/EMT position pays an average annual salary of $27,000. Wilderness or search and rescue EMTs, those that work in remote locations sometimes under adverse weather or terrain conditions, earn an average annual salary of $32,000.

Aspiring EMTs should perform thorough research of the jobs available for EMTs or in the emergency medical services (EMS) field, along with their associated salary levels before committing to any one training program.

Job Interviews

The job interview for many public service careers is another important step in the application process. To be successful in the interview, take time to fully prepare yourself. Not only will you feel more confident going into your interview, you will also make a more favorable first impression on your interviewers, possibly even landing the EMT job you want.

One step to prepare is to learn as much as you can about the emergency medical services agency that will be hiring you. Is it a municipal fire department? A hospital? A private ambulance service? The better you understand how a work environment operates, the more prepared you will be able to ask appropriate questions as a sign to your interviewer that you have done your homework. You should understand the chain of command and know the names of the individuals in the top positions of the department or company. Stay abreast of events in which the department is involved; an opportunity may present itself where you can demonstrate your interest in recent happenings.

Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork in order. By taking the time to fully prepare and organize all the application forms and paperwork you will be demonstrating your preparedness and organizational skills. Have copies of certificates and licenses available. Organize your documents and bring enough copies for everyone who will be interviewing you.

Another critical step in preparing for your interview is to anticipate the questions you will be asked and prepare your responses to them in advance. You will first be asked general questions such as name, age, education, and work experience. You should also be prepared to answer the “Tell me about yourself” question. You might be asked if it would be a problem for you to join a union. And because EMTs are required to drive an ambulance both quickly and safely, you will probably be asked about your driving record, such as if you have ever received any tickets or demerits.

Examples of other questions you could be asked include: An EMT must be able to make decisions both quickly and sometimes under extreme pressure. Tell me about a time you were forced to make a decision about a patient but would have liked more time and/or information before deciding. Behavioral questions test your reasoning skills and seek to understand how you would react or respond in a particular situation. For example: A successful paramedic must be able to work effectively within a diverse patient population. Explain a situation when you had to make a “cultural” accommodation when administering emergency treatment to a patient.

Review lists of typical interview questions and prepare responses. Additional questions can relate to treating a patient with compassion and dignity, managing stress, and your level of physical fitness. Develop and practice responding with a friend or mentor, someone who can provide insights into how well you answered the questions or where you may need to improve.

Arrive on time for the interview. Dress in business attire and be well groomed. While it is fine to pause momentarily before responding to a question, when you do answer speak in a clear, confident tone. Answer all questions honestly and completely. Have a list of two or three questions prepared to ask at the appropriate time. Do not ask about salary or benefits at this time, but rather about job duties. One example is: Help me understand the typical work day of an EMT.

Prepare well; the interview may be your only opportunity to show potential employers that you have the EMT certification, education, skills, and personality to succeed.


One necessary step in your search for a job as an emergency medical technician (EMT) is to have a well- crafted resume that details the education, experience, and skills that are relevant to the EMT position for which you are applying. Because EMTs can work in different industries, such as emergency medical services (EMS), security, oil and gas, and in the military, you should research the specific job requirements and tailor your resume to fit the job.

Many people write their own resume while others seek the help of a professional resume writing service. If you are comfortable preparing your own resume, there are specific steps you should take before getting started, as well as certain information you will want to make sure is included on your resume.

The first step you should take is to research and review the various formats used for resumes for EMT positions. Many websites provide sample resumes. Select one that reflects levels of education and experience that are similar to yours or one that can be easily adapted to the job for which you are applying. If you are preparing a resume to submit in response to a job advertisement or posting, you should tailor your resume and cover letter to that specific job. On the other hand, if you plan on posting your resume on a job board, you can probably use a general format for your resume.

Many human resources departments and hiring firms use specialized software that electronically scans resumes and cover letters for key words and terms that are specific to a particular job. Assuming you meet the qualifications, your resume should reflect the key words that are relevant to that position. If your resume does not contain these key words, it will never make it to the desk of the human resources manager for further review. Several examples of keywords that may be appropriate on a resume for an EMT position are: emergency medical technician, EMT certification, NREMT certification, ambulance driver, pre-hospital treatment, and first aid.

Your resume should include a clear objective statement indicating the type of job you seek. This statement should also highlight an important quality you can offer the hiring agency or company to make them want to keep reading through the entire resume. An example of such an objective statement is: Nationally certified and state licensed emergency medical technician with over four years of emergency medical treatment experience seeks a position assisting hospital emergency room personnel in the delivery of exceptional patient care and treatment.

Next list your work experience, incorporating the relevant key words when possible. Regardless of the amount of direct EMT experience you possess, highlight your accomplishments from each of your previous jobs and make them relevant to the job for which you are applying. Demonstrate the skills and expertise you have developed, matching them with the qualities of a good EMT. In addition to knowledge of the skills specific to the job, employers look for applicants who also display dedication, leadership, and teamwork.

After experience, list your education and training. Include all certifications you have received, along with your clinical and practical field experience and any professional associations to which you belong. To let potential employers learn even more about you, you can indicate other pertinent skills and activities in a separate section.

Finally, make sure your resume looks professional. It should not exceed two pages. It should focus on your skills, education, and certifications, highlighting their relevance to the EMT position you seek. It should be simple and easy-to-read. And, it should always be truthful. By following these tips, your resume will get the attention it deserves.


As part of the job application process, job seekers put a lot of time into composing their resume and cover letter. They should spend an equal amount of time developing their list of employment references, as potential employers usually ask for references at some point during the application or interview process. By planning ahead and having your list of references ready, you will be well prepared to provide your list upon request. Consider the following tips as you plan your list of references.

As an emergency medical technician (EMT), you may be applying for a job at a private ambulance service, a municipal emergency medical facility, or a hospital. These potential employers will be familiar with the different levels of EMT certification and the typical job duties associated with each level. They will probably ask your references questions about: your level of skills in a particular medical area, your ability to communicate with patients and patients’ families, your ability to work well as part of a larger medical or emergency response team, your ability to work well under pressure, and your strengths and/or weaknesses. As you develop your list of references, keep these questions in mind, as you will want references who will give strong and positive recommendations on your behalf. What your reference says about you could mean the difference between getting hired or not.

Because former supervisors and co-workers are aware of your skills, experience, and your work ethic, these individuals are most typically listed as references. They can speak about your accomplishments, motivation, and leadership skills. Consider, too, former teachers or instructors who are familiar with your dedication and practical skills. If you have been involved in volunteer community affairs or programs, the individuals in charge of the programs, or others you worked alongside of, can speak well of your accountability and dependability. While you should not list family members, you will want to have a well-rounded list of names as references who can address your education, work experiences, and character in as favorable a light as possible.

Once you have made your list of references, you will need to obtain permission from each person before naming them on a job application. Let them know about the job you are seeking and ask them if they would serve as a reference for you. You should not be offended if anyone declines; regardless of their reason for declining your request, it is better to have them decline upfront than for them to provide a negative or even neutral commentary about you.

You can then help your references by letting them know everything about the job for which you are applying. Provide them with a copy of your resume and make sure they are aware of your skills, experience, and attributes as they relate to the job. Thank your references for their time and support. As a courtesy, you should follow up with them later to keep them informed of your job status.

Whether you are listing references on a job application or as an attachment to a resume, include complete information for each person you list: name, title, business name and address, contact telephone numbers, and email address. You want to make it as easy as possible for your potential new employer to be able to reach each of your references. Review the list whenever you apply for a new job; you need to ensure the reference is still willing to act on your behalf and also to confirm that their contact information is still accurate.