EMT Training California - EMT Training Base (2023)

Becoming an EMT in California

California Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training is similar to many other states. Becoming an EMT in California begins with going through an approved EMT program, passing the National Registry of EMT (NREMT) exams, and then getting approved for a California state EMT license.

Scroll down for more detailed information about each step in the California EMT training process.This page will also discuss California EMT scope of practice skills that emergency medical technicians of all levels are allowed to perform on the job.

EMT Training California - EMT Training Base (1)

EMS Levels Recognized in California

Emergency Medical Responder (EMR)
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT)
Paramedic (EMT-P)
Critical Care Paramedic (CCP)

EMT Training in California

EMT training in California is offered at many schools and institutions throughout the state. Most EMT schools in California only offer the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or Paramedic programs for study.

The Advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT) certification is used mostly in rural areas of California. In fact, the AEMT may be the only EMS personnel available to provide immediate medical attention in those areas.

The AEMT certification is not recognized statewide so if you want to work as an AEMT, you should contact the local Emergency Medical Services Agency (LEMSA) in the area you want to work in.

When signing up for a California Paramedic program make sure the course is accredited. For an extensive list of approved California EMT training programs and accredited Paramedic programs in California go here:List of EMT schools.

A Critical Care Paramedic (CCP) is the highest level of EMS personnel recognized by the State of California. CCPs are paramedics with additional training and an expanded scope of practice which allows them to do critical care transports.

(Video) EMT Skills: Medical Patient Assessment/Management - EMTprep.com

Critical care paramedics don’t need to be accompanied by a registered nurse during transports and are frequently used by flight ambulances. Critical care paramedics are accredited by a LEMSA and CCP training is done at a local level.

Like the AEMT, the critical care paramedic accreditation is not recognized statewide.

EMT schools in California teach students to respond quickly to emergency situations and transport the sick and injured while providing life saving care.

California EMT training programs prepare graduates to work in the field, make them competent to complete patient assessments, identify signs and symptoms of an emergency, and respond with the appropriate treatments.

After graduating from EMT training, students in California will be able to perform life-saving skills and respond to emergency situations with confidence. Some of these life-saving skills include managing myocardial infarctions, stabilizing fractures, hemorrhage control, and administering oxygen.

Some common emergency situations a California EMT will respond to are cardiac arrest, motor vehicle accidents, gunshot wounds, and falls.

EMT Training California - EMT Training Base (2)

EMT Schools in California

EMT schools in California all have a set of requirements which must be met in order to be accepted into the different levels of EMT training. Each EMT school in California can have slightly different requirements for entry, but in general most schools will have the following prerequisites.

• ACalifornia EMT must be 18 years old to have a California state EMT license. Some EMT training programs allow candidates to enter their program at 17 1/2 years old. However, they must be 18 years old by the end of the EMT training program.

EMT schools in California require a high school diploma or GED certificate.

EMT schools in California require applicants to complete the American Heart Association CPR-BLS for the Healthcare Provider. An acceptable alternative is American Red Cross BLS–CPR for the professional rescuer. (Some EMT programs include this as part of the EMT course instead of as a prerequisite.)

Some California EMT programs require a current Drivers License.

EMT schools in California require candidates have proof of Current Health Insurance. Some schools require students to stay insured throughout the entire California EMT training program. Some only require Health insurance during the clinical and ride along portion of the program.

Some EMT schools in California will require a fingerprint based National background check and clean drug test. All candidates will eventually be required to pass the background check to obtain a California state EMT license.

• Applicants for EMT training in California must have a current negative TB skin test.

EMT schools in California require applicants show proof of immunizations or titers for the following:

MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella)
Varicella (Chicken Pox)

California EMT training programs in California require applicants show proof they have begun the Hepatitis B series of vaccinations. Usually 2 of the 3 shots done by the first day of class.

Many EMT schools in California require a flu vaccine within the last year.

Some EMT schools in California will require students to complete an English, Math, or Reading class as a requirement for school enrollment.

Many California EMT training programs require applicants to pass a physical and obtain medical clearance from a physician. This clears students to meet the physical demands involved in EMT schooling. Often this can be done at the schools Student Health Center.

(Video) CSUDH Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Training Program

California EMT School Curriculum

California EMT programs are approved by State and Local EMS agencies based in different counties. For this reason, EMT training programs throughout California may have extra training hours specific to local areas.

However, there is a set of basic requirements all EMT schools in California must meet in order to be approved.

Basic EMT training in California requires at least 170 hours of training. Most programs exceed this amount of training hours. The training requires candidates have at least 10 patient contacts with at least 24 hours of clinical training and 146 hours of didactic and skill training.

Clinical Training: 24 hours
Didactic & Skills: 146 hours

Total: 170 hours

Advanced EMT training in California is usually offered as additional training after obtaining an EMT certificate. AEMT training in California requires at least 160 more hours of training, with a minimum of 15 patient contacts using Advanced Life Support (ALS).

At least 80 hours must be didactic and skill training, 40 hours must be clinical training, and there must be at least 40 hours of field internship.

Didactic & Skills: 80 hours
Clinical Training: 40 hours
Field Internship: 40 hours

TOTAL: 160 hours

There are many Paramedic training programs throughout California. Some require six months to a year of previous work experience as an EMT and some don’t require any experience for admission. All California Paramedic programs require at least a total of 1,090 hours of training with 40 ALS patient contacts.

(Video) CSUDH EMT Training: What to Expect... Life of an EMT

At least 450 hours will be didactic and skill training and a minimum of 160 hours will be hospital and clinical training. The field internship training portion will be a minimum of 480 hours long.

Didactic & Skills: 450 hours
Hospital Clinical: 160 hours
Field Internship: 480 hours

TOTAL: 1,090 hours

California Critical Care Paramedic training programs can be found at local level by contacting LEMSAs. California programs require three years experience working as a paramedic before you can begin training to be a critical care paramedic. CCP training in California must be at least 202 hours.

There will be at least 108 hours of didactic and skills along with a minimum of 94 hours of hospital and clinical training.

Critical care paramedics are not tested through the NREMT like other levels of certification in California.

Instead a paramedic must get certification with the Board for Critical Care Transport Paramedic Certification (BCCTPC) by taking and passing their certification exam.

Didactic & Skills: 108 hours
Hospital Clinical: 94 hours

TOTAL: 202 hours

EMT Training California - EMT Training Base (3)


National EMT Certification

After completing EMT school in California, the next step is to pass the National Registry of EMT (NREMT) exams. Once candidates pass both these exams, they earn a National EMT certification from the NREMT. For more detailed information on both the exams check out our NREMT exam page.

The first NREMT exam is the Psychomotor exam and will be introduced to students by their EMT training instructor. The psychomotor exam is a practical, hands on test of the EMTs abilities.

Students usually schedule their exam towards the end of their California EMT training with the help of their school instructor.

Check out our tips for passing the psychomotor exam page for extra help.
The other exam candidates must pass to get their National EMT certification is the NREMT Cognitive Exam.

The Cognitive exam is a written exam administered using a computer which asks candidates to choose the MOST correct answer. California EMT Candidates can sign up for the computer adaptive test by going to the National Registry of EMT website and registering for a Cognitive exam test date.

Once a candidate has successfully passed both the psychomotor and cognitive exam in California, they will be contacted by the National Registry of EMTs.

The NREMT will automatically send a letter of congratulation along with your California EMT certification in the mail. At this point, many people want to begin working as a California EMT as soon as they can.

Can you begin working as an EMT once you get the NREMT certification?

The answer is:

Not yet!

(Video) EMT & Fire Training | EMT Skills Week Brief Intro

First you must get your California State EMT License by applying at your local EMS agency (LEMSA). All candidates must get an EMT state license in California before they can work.

(Cont. below for Page 2)


Is the EMT certification exam hard? ›

The NREMT exam is designed to feel hard. That's because it's adaptive, meaning that if you answer one question correctly, the computer will give you another question in the same content area that is harder. If you get that one right, you'll receive another question that's even more challenging.

How many hours of field training is required for an EMT in California? ›

California EMT programs are at least 160 hours and include at least 136 hours of didactic training and at least 24 hours of clinical training. The individual must have 10 patient contacts.

What is the hardest part of EMT class? ›

Joshua's Answer. For me the hardest part was integrating the clinical skills and knowledge with real life scenarios. I was required to quickly assess pretend patients, correctly, make a “prehospital impression” or diagnosis, and treat/transport in under 5-10 minutes.

How long does EMT training take in California? ›

It typically takes 12 weeks to finish the program, unless you choose the accelerated eight-week class option to earn your certificate faster. (In contrast, traditional EMT programs can take up to 16 weeks to complete.)

What if I fail my EMT exam? ›

If a candidate is unsuccessful on an exam attempt, they may apply to retest 15 days after the last examination. After three unsuccessful examination attempts, EMT, AEMT, and Paramedic candidates must submit official documentation verifying the completion of a remedial training program.

Why can't i pass EMT? ›

Lack of knowledge results from a poor class or lack of effort. Ask yourself these questions: Did I pay attention in class and study? If you didn't put the work into the class, you will likely fail the NREMT—even if you did OK in class.

What is the golden hour for EMT? ›

The term the “golden hour” was coined in 1975 as a way of stressing the importance of fast trauma patient transport to the hospital. The idea was that if patients didn't receive definitive care within an hour of injury that they would have a decreased chance of survival.

How much are EMTs paid in California? ›

How much does an EMT make in California? The average EMT salary in California is $40,640 as of January 26, 2023, but the range typically falls between $36,300 and $46,090.

How many hours a week do most EMTs work? ›

Most paid EMTs and paramedics work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week. Because EMTs and paramedics must be available to work in emergencies, they may work overnight and on weekends. Some EMTs and paramedics work shifts in 12- or 24-hour increments.

What type of EMT makes the most money? ›

Top 8 highest-paid EMT jobs to pursue
  1. Emergency medical dispatcher. National average salary: $41,937 per year. ...
  2. Emergency room technician. National average salary: $42,641 per year. ...
  3. Crime scene technician. ...
  4. Health information technician. ...
  5. Firefighter. ...
  6. Physician assistant. ...
  7. Surgical technician. ...
  8. Medical technologist.
Apr 2, 2022

How can I pass my EMT exam? ›

Top 5 Tips for the NREMT Written Exam
  1. Change the way you read the questions! Read the LAST line of the question first, then all 4 answers, and then go back and read the entire test item. ...
  2. Think Simply. The NREMT is not trying to trick you. ...
  3. ONE QUESTION! ...
  4. Know your BLS or ACLS algorithms! ...
  5. Mindset is everything!

What are the cons of being an EMT? ›

Pros and Cons of Being an EMT Summary Table
Pros of Being an EMTCons of Being an EMT
Scope for GrowthYou Might Get Injured
Ability to Keep an Eye on ThingsIntense Physical Activity
Work StabilityToo Little Time to Spend With Loved Ones and Friends
Fast TrainingMentally Taxing
4 more rows

How much do EMTs make in san diego ca? ›

The average EMT salary in San Diego, CA is $39,260 as of January 26, 2023, but the range typically falls between $35,070 and $44,530. Salary ranges can vary widely depending on many important factors, including education, certifications, additional skills, the number of years you have spent in your profession.

How long are most EMT courses? ›

Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) students complete a course that is a minimum of 170 hours in length. EMTs are educated in assessing a patient and determining if any life threatening injuries or illnesses may be present.

What are the requirements to become an EMT in California? ›

To become an EMT in the State of California, you must:
  • Successfully complete an approved EMT training program. ...
  • After completing your training, you must pass the National Registry (NREMT) cognitive and psychomotor examinations.
  • Apply for certification at a local EMS agency.

Do I have to pay again if I fail NREMT? ›

Retaking the Exam

You will have to again have to go to www.nremt.org to pay your fee and www.vue.com to schedule another exam.

What percentage of people pass the EMT test? ›

If 33% of EMTs and 23% of paramedics fail the exam, it implies 67 percent and 73 percent passed the exam, respectively. If you understand how the test works and how to study for it, you can be in those passing percentages. The best approach to ace the EMT or Paramedic exam is to prepare properly and thoroughly.

Can you pass NREMT with 68 questions? ›

National registry exam questions for an EMT range from 70 questions through 120 questions. Individuals may pass or fail with 70 questions and others may pass or fail with 120 questions. The number of questions you receive is irrelevant. Just do your best and try not to over think any of the questions.

Is EMT pass harder than the NREMT? ›

Our famous EMT, AEMT and Paramedic PASS apps are a little more challenging than the NREMT itself. We did that on purpose. If you can succeed on PASS practice exams, you can succeed on the NREMT. Check out the PASS apps.

Why did my NREMT test stopped at 70 questions? ›

Per the NREMT website, "The computer stops the exam at the minimum number of items in the following situations: There is a 95% confidence the candidate is at or above the passing standard. There is a 95% confidence the candidate is below the passing standard. The candidate has reached the maximum allotted time"

How strong do EMTs have to be? ›

+ Strength and Mobility – EMTs should be able to lift a minimum of 100 pounds, push a minimum of 50 pounds, and have the stamina, endurance, and flexibility to repeatedly lift, bend, and kneel.

What percent of people pass the EMT exam? ›

If 33% of EMTs and 23% of paramedics fail the exam, it implies 67 percent and 73 percent passed the exam, respectively. If you understand how the test works and how to study for it, you can be in those passing percentages. The best approach to ace the EMT or Paramedic exam is to prepare properly and thoroughly.

How do I pass my EMT final exam? ›

Top 10 tips to passing the final EMT exam
  1. 1.The best way to study is to study the entire time you're in training! ...
  2. 2.Study groups with people in your class, practicals with each other and study notes together. ...
  3. 3.Get a study guide and do the questions in the guide religiously. ...
  4. 4.Flash cards.
Mar 7, 2013

What does it mean if you get 120 questions on NREMT? ›

National registry exam questions for an EMT range from 70 questions through 120 questions. Individuals may pass or fail with 70 questions and others may pass or fail with 120 questions. The number of questions you receive is irrelevant.

What is the minimum passing score for NREMT? ›

No matter how many questions you have to answer on the cognitive test, you will need a score of at least 70% to pass the NREMT. Students often strive for a higher score, but 70% will get you through the first round so that you can take the psychomotor test and receive EMT certification.

How stressful is an EMT job? ›

Being an EMT can often be very stressful. Dealing with life-or-death situations and having to make decisions quickly and accurately is no walk in the park. You will also be working in physically demanding conditions with little rest.

Is the EMT test multiple choice? ›

All of the questions on the NREMT exam are multiple choice. It is also important to note that many of the questions provide you with multiple answers that could be considered “correct”, however, there is always one “best” answer, which is the only answer for which a candidate can earn a point.

What is the NREMT exam like? ›


There are 135 questions that each candidate must answer in 2 hours and 15 minutes. The exam will cover the entire spectrum of EMS care including: Airway, Respiration & Ventilation; Cardiology & Resuscitation; Trauma; Medical & Obstetrics/Gynecology; and EMS Operations.

Is the NREMT hard to pass? ›

Yes, you can pass the NREMT test on the first try. In fact, look at the statistics. If 33 percent of EMTs and 23 percent of paramedics fail the exam, it means 67 percent and 73 percent, respectively, passed the test. You can be in those passing percentages if you are aware of how the test works and how to study for it.


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