State Requirements for EMT-Basic Exam

Updated on Jul 20, 2011

The table below shows some of the minimum requirements you must meet to be certified as an EMT-Basic in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The next few paragraphs explain the entries on the table. After the table is a state-by-state list of EMT agencies that you can contact for more specific information.

You should know that some minimum requirements are pretty standard and so are not listed on the table. For instance, you must be physically,mentally, and emotionally able to perform all the tasks of an EMT. Usually, you are required to have a high school diploma or GED before you begin training. You must have a clean criminal record. And, of course, you must successfully complete an EMT-Basic training program that meets the standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The minimum age for most states is 18 years old; however, you should check age specifications with the EMT agency in your state. Some states allow you to begin a training program before you reach this minimum age, often requiring a parent or guardian’s permission.

The first entry, Minimum Hours of Training, lists the number of hours this state or territory considers sufficient for EMT-Basic training. Courses that meet the requirements will typically cover both the DOT/NHTSAapproved curriculum and locality-specific protocols. Be sure to check with the licensing agency in the area where you intend to work to make sure your course meets the requirements. Note that in some states, such as California, the locality-specific requirements are just that: The requirements for EMT-Basic certification in Los Angeles differ from the requirements in San Diego and Santa Clara. You should also check with your licensing agency to see how much time you have between finishing your training course and fulfilling all the other requirements for certification—including passing the written and practical exams.

States use their own written and practical skills exams, exams from the National Registry of EMTs, or a combination of both. The entry under Training Accepted will be “State,” meaning the state has its own exam; “NREMT” for National Registry; or an entry indicating a combination of both exams. Even when the state has its own exam, you’ll find it’s pretty similar to the National Registry exam, and therefore to the exams in this book (except for state- or locality-specific scopes of practice and protocols). After all, the federal government mandates the curriculum of EMT courses nationwide. You can expect exams based on similar curricula to be similar.

Some states’ exams will require you to go through their certification process; others will accept the National Registry Exams, if you are already certified by the NREMT. Similarly, some states will accept your certification from out of state, some will accept it if you take their exam, and some will require that you be certified through the National Registry if you are transferring in from out-of-state. In most cases, a state that accepts out-of-state certification will insist that your training program and your exam meet or exceed its standards, so sometimes, it will come down to whether the state you’re coming from is deemed to have done so. Some states have additional certification requirements for transferring EMTs, such as background investigation, being a state resident, being employed with an EMS agency in that state, or taking a refresher course. If you are certified in another state, you will need to show proof of certification when applying in a different state. Some states have what is known as “legal recognition,” which means they will recognize and accept your training for a limited time period, often one year. This is similar to a temporary certification. During this period of legal recognition, you apply for official certification and fulfill the necessary requirements. Once the process is complete, your certification will be good for as long as that state allows. You should check with the appropriate state’s EMS office for more detail.

The last column, Recertification, indicates the number of years from your initial certification to the time when you will have to be recertified. Recertification usually requires a given number of hours of continuing education, demonstration of your continuing ability to perform the necessary skills, or both—but you’ll find out all about that once you’re certified in the first place.

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