EMT Basic Job Description

by Steve Amoia

The emergency medical technician basic designation, or EMT-Basic, is an entry level classification and the initial step to becoming a paramedic. They are often the first medical professionals on the scene of an emergency. Compassion, the ability to work under pressure, calm communication skills and physical strength are all key traits for emergency medical technicians.


EMT-Basics provide preliminary and noninvasive treatment during emergency illnesses and injuries. They are supervised by paramedics and senior-level emergency medical technicians. EMT-Basics determine a patient's immediate medical condition and coordinate care with paramedics and physicians. They communicate with patients, ensure they are securely placed in an ambulance, monitor vital signs and accompany patients medical facilities, hospitals, and specialty care clinics. They also document the care the patient received at the scene and communicate this information to doctors and nurses.

Education and Training

Aspiring EMTs must have a high school diploma, or its equivalent, and hold a current CPR certification. Preparatory courses in anatomy, medical terminology and physiology are beneficial. EMTs must complete at least 100 hours of formal training at an emergency medicine facility, technical institute or community college. At the EMT-Basic level, students learn proper care of cardiac and traumatic situations and how to use specialized field equipment. Students also learn triage, in which they assess a patient's condition during an emergency, and they also learn how to clear obstructed airways.

Licenses and Certification

Each state requires licensing for EMTs. A certification credential is a helpful step to demonstrate proficiency and in some states replaces a state licensing exam. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians offers the EMT-Basic/EMT credential. Candidates must be at least 18 years of age and successfully complete a state-approved basic emergency medical technician course approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation EMT-Basic National Standard Curriculum within the last two years. They must also have a current CPR certification for health-care providers and pass a state-approved psychomotor skills examination.

Anticipated Wages

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics combines salaries for EMTs and paramedics. According to 2010 BLS data, EMTs and paramedics had an average yearly salary of $30,360. Data compiled by Simply Hired shows that EMT-Basics had an average annual salary of $36,000 as of February 2013.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected number of jobs for EMTs and paramedics is estimated to increase by 33 percent between 2010 and 2020. This projection is much faster than the 14 percent average expected for all other occupations. Future demand for EMTs and paramedics is the result of several factors: The growth in the middle age and elderly populations, and the continued need for first responders during medical emergencies, vehicular accidents and scenes of violence.

About the Author

Steve Amoia is a writer, book reviewer and translator from Washington, D.C. He began his writing career as a software technical writer. Amoia focuses on career-related themes, Chinese martial/healing arts and international soccer journalism.

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