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How to Become an EMT in Texas
Emergency medical technicians – often referred to as emergency medical services (EMS) technicians in Texas – respond to all types of medical emergencies, from heart attacks to roadside injuries. They lead high-stress lives, but the care they provide often saves lives. EMT requirements in Texas include formal training and national and state certification. While Texas EMTs earn a moderate income, job opportunities are set to increase well into the next decade.
What Does an EMT Do?
EMTs provide emergency medical care for people suffering from illnesses or injuries. Typically, they work in the field as members of a paramedic or firefighter team. They respond to 911 calls to assess patients’ conditions, administer first-aid treatments and transport patients by ambulance to medical facilities. EMTs also transport patients between medical facilities.
EMTs communicate with doctors and nurses to determine the best course of emergency treatment. They keep records of the treatments they administer and manage supplies aboard ambulances. When dealing with patients who have infectious diseases, they must decontaminate medical devices used, as well as the interior of their transport vehicles. EMTs often work in ambulance crews or as part of airplane or helicopter EMS crews.
EMTs often work in partnerships with paramedics. They respond to and treat patients suffering from various conditions, which may include:
- Heart attacks.
- Injuries sustained in automobile accidents.
- Allergic reactions.
- Drug overdoses.
- Asthma attacks.
What’s the Difference Between EMT and Paramedic?
Paramedics provide advanced field emergency medical care, including administering intravenous fluids, resuscitations, administering medications and complex airway management. They occupy the top level of EMS medical care and have advanced training in cardiology, anatomy, physiology and medications.
Many paramedics begin their careers as EMTs, who handle tasks such as administering oxygen, treating allergic reactions and administering asthma treatments. EMTs cannot administer any treatment that breaks a patient’s skin such as injecting medications.
What is the Work Environment of an EMT?
An EMT career requires you to work in stressful, strenuous, life-or-death situations. EMTs work indoors and outdoors, even in inclement weather conditions. EMTs have a higher-than-average injury rate and face exposure to HIV and hepatitis B. Most EMTs hold full-time jobs and often work 12- or 24-hour shifts.
How Do I Become an EMT?
To work as an EMT, you must pass a postsecondary EMT program. To qualify for admission, most programs require a high school diploma or GED certificate and cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification. Typically, EMT programs do not lead to a degree, but do prepare students for EMT certification.
To qualify for certification, you must graduate from a program approved by the Texas Department of State Health Services. DSHS field offices, located throughout Texas, can advise you on finding an approved program.
Typically, basic EMT programs include around 150 hours of instruction and teach you how to handle emergencies, deal with trauma victims, assess injuries, respond to cardiac emergencies, use emergency equipment and clear obstructed airways. Courses include online or classroom instruction and hands-on field instruction.
Advanced EMT training includes around 400 hours of training and teaches you more advanced care such as administering intravenous fluids, administering some medications and using airway devices. To become a paramedic, you must already hold an EMT certificate. Paramedic training includes around 1,200 hours of instruction and often leads to a degree.
Which Texas Schools Offer EMT Programs?
Community colleges and private organizations throughout Texas offer EMT training.
The Brookhaven Campus of Dallas County Community College offers the Emergency Medical Technician Basic Certificate program. The program includes classroom and field coursework that meets EMT requirements in Texas.
The one-semester DCCC program requires students to pass an American Heart Association Basic Cardiac Life Support for Healthcare Providers course before enrollment and strongly encourages candidates to study American Sign Language as an elective. The 18 credit hours of core coursework includes:
- Field emergency medical technology.
- Emergency care attendant.
- Emergency medical technician.
- Emergency medical technology special topics.
- Conversational Spanish.
DCCC also requires EMT students to take six credit hours in mathematics and English.
RC Health Services facilitates an American Heart Association EMT training program that meets EMT requirements in Texas. The course includes 140 hours of online coursework and hands-on skills training and clinical rotations, available at sites in Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. The AHA designed the course to prepare students for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NR) examination, which all EMTs must pass to qualify for Texas certification.
You must complete the online coursework within six months. The hands-on skills training takes two days to complete. Clinical rotations involve transporting patients and a 24-hour rotation in an emergency services department.
RC Health Services charges around $1,400 for the course, which includes:
- Liability insurance.
- Drug screening fee.
- Criminal background check.
- Clinical identification badge.
- Clinical rotation fees.
- An audiobook and eBook.
- Uniform shirt for clinical rotations.
Do I Need a License to Work as an EMT?
To work in Texas, an EMT must obtain certification. Texas has five EMT certifications (listed from highest to lowest):
- Licensed Paramedic.
- Advanced EMT.
- EMT basic.
- Emergency Care Attendant.
Candidates must undergo an application process and a separate exam process. You can only qualify for state certification after passing the NR exam, which qualifies you for national certification. If you fail the exam, you can take it again later. However, you are not eligible for Texas EMT certification until you pass the NR exam. The computerized cognitive exam tests an EMT’s knowledge in treating adults and children in areas including:
- Cardiology and resuscitation.
- Airway, respiration and ventilation.
- Obstetrics and gynecology.
- EMT operations.
After passing the NR exam, you can apply for Texas EMT certification. To qualify you must:
- Be 18 years of age or older.
- Have a GED or high school diploma.
- Complete an EMT training course approved by DSHS.
- File an EMS Personnel Certification application.
- Pay the administration fee.
- File proof of NR certification.
- Pass an FBI background check.
- Submit fingerprints, using the Texas Fingerprint Service Code Form, at an IdentoGo site. IdentoGo charges a fee to submit fingerprints.
You can submit your application and pay the administration fee online, at the DSHS website. The certification process takes four to six weeks to complete. You can monitor the progress of your application at the DSHS website.
Once certified, the DSHS will issue you a certification card. If you lose the card, you can submit a Texas EMT replacement card form with the DSHS to request another one.
Does Texas Offer Reciprocal Certification?
Emergency workers who hold a First Responder, Persons with Emergency Care Attendant or Emergency Medical certification do not qualify for Texas reciprocal certification. However, certified EMTs can qualify for Texas reciprocal certification. To qualify for a 4-year certification, an applicant must:
- Be 18 years of age or older.
- Have a verifiable certification from a U.S. territory or another state.
- File an Out-of-State Verification Form A. Applicants who have worked in multiple states must file a form for each state in which they have obtained certification.
- Candidates applying for advanced EMT certification must have verifiable proof of training certified by another state. Texas’ Advanced EMT certification requires verifiable training in intravenous initiation and intubation devices.
- Complete the EMS Personnel Reciprocity Certification Application.
- Pay the administration fee.
- Pass an FBI background check.
- Submit fingerprints on the appropriate form at an IdentoGo site.
- Pass the NR exam or hold a current NR certificate.
Are Former Military EMTs Eligible for Certification?
Texas will certify veterans, current military members and military spouses who receive military EMT training, if they hold a valid NR certificate. To qualify the applicant must follow the out-of-state application process.
How Much Does a Texas EMT Make?
Based on a nationwide survey conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, EMTs earned a median salary of around $34,000 in 2018. The median salary represents the center of the EMT pay scale. EMTs at the bottom of the pay scale made nearly $23,000 and high earners took home nearly $59,000.
EMTs in large cities often earn more money than their colleagues in rural areas do. For example, EMTs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area earned an average salary of nearly $39,000 in 2018.
What is the Job Outlook for EMTs?
According to the BLS, EMT jobs should increase by 15 percent from now until 2026. The high demand stems from the increasing number of senior citizens and the growing number of medical facilities, which need EMTs to transfer patients for treatments. The high turnover and retirement rates within emergency services will open the door for new EMTs to begin their careers.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: EMTs and Paramedics
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: 29-2041 Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics
- Texas Department of State Health Services: Initial certification-licensure
- Texas Department of State Health Services: EMS Reciprocity Certification
- RC Health Services: Texas Online EMT-Basic Course
- RC Health Services: Houston Online EMT-Basic Course
- Dallas County Community College District: Emergency Medical Technician Basic Certificate
- UCLA Center for Prehospital Care: What's the Difference Between an EMT and a Paramedic?
- National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians: Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT)
- Texas Department of State Health Services: EMS Certificate/Wallet Card Replacement Form
- Unless you know for certain that you can handle the various situations the job will expose you to physically and emotionally, it is wise to request to go on a ride-along with a paramedic unit and simply watch on site what the EMTs do during a typical shift.
- Remember that actually working as a Texas EMT is a lot different from the depictions on television. There will not always be happy endings, and the blood, pain and destruction you witness are real.
- This is a wonderful job for those who want to make a difference in the lives of others.
- Stay up-to-date on all of your vaccinations, and never cut corners in the handling of patients. Protocols must be followed to the letter, and failure to do so may leave you liable in case of a patient’s adverse reaction to your treatment.
Michael Evans’ career path has taken many planned and unexpected twists and turns, from TV sports producer to internet project manager to cargo ship deckhand. He has worked in numerous industries, including higher education, government, transportation, finance, manufacturing, journalism and travel. Along the way, he has developed job descriptions, interviewed job applicants and gained insight into the types of education, work experience and personal characteristics employers seek in job candidates. Michael graduated from The University of Memphis, where he studied photography and film production. He began writing professionally while working for an online finance company in San Francisco, California. His writings have appeared in print and online publications, including Fox Business, Yahoo! Finance, Motley Fool and Bankrate.