Embarking on the career path of becoming a first responder presents many rewards and challenges. Becoming a member of an EMT or paramedic team are both popular options. Individuals must learn the differences between the two paths to decide which direction to take.

Individuals must meet the requirements for becoming an EMT or a paramedic, which may vary from school to school and state to state. Eligibility requirements often include:

  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Attend and complete a required and approved EMT or paramedic training course.
  • Complete and pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians or Paramedic computer-based examination.
  • Apply for an obtain the required certification within two years of obtaining the course completion certificate.


Training Requirements

EMT training is considered a training course that gives you the ability to respond to emergency situations. The training requires up to 150 hours of course attendance. It includes lectures and skills training in addition to clinical or field on-the-job training. Upon coursework completion, EMTs undergo testing of their knowledge and skills to obtain certification. Duties of an EMT involve responding to emergencies where the responder may be required to:

  • Perform CPR.
  • Administer oxygen.
  • Assess a patient’s blood sugar level and administer glucose.
  • Provide treatment in the event of an allergic reaction or asthma attack.

EMTs are not trained or allowed to perform treatments involving invasive procedures. In short, they cannot administer injections except auto-injectors for allergic reactions. Upon necessary skills education and certification, EMTs may continue their training to become instructors.


Paramedic training

To become a paramedic, individuals must first complete an EMT training course. Depending on state mandates, the student must then take the required paramedic course, which may require up to 1,800 hours or six to 12 months of lectures, skills training, and clinical or on-the-job field training. In some states, a paramedic is required to obtain an Associate’s degree and attend paramedic coursework. Training includes learning about:


  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Cardiology
  • Medications
  • Patient assessment skills
  • Phlebotomy
  • Initiating intravenous lines
  • Performing advanced airway management techniques
  • Acquiring resuscitation and supportive care skills
  • First aid and trauma care


Upon completion or graduation, the student must obtain the necessary certification.