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How to Become an EMT in Texas

Emergency medical technician (EMT) employment is projected to expand by 11% over the next decade, much faster than the national average. If you’re considering becoming an EMT, know that it’s a great field to enter with plenty of job opportunities. Further, the business of saving lives and keeping others safe is highly respected and rewarding.

Let’s look at what it takes to become an EMT in Texas.

How Does the Texas EMT Process Work?

Texas has five levels of certification for EMTs. From highest to lowest, these certifications are:

  • Licensed paramedic (LP): Licensed paramedics complete a two- to four-year EMT program to gain an academic degree. With this extra training, they provide critical care, including triage with advanced medical equipment, and can administer various medications.
  • EMT-paramedic (EMT-P): EMT-paramedics have a high school diploma and complete a full paramedic program but are not required to have an academic degree. There is no functional difference between an LP and EMT-P.
  • Advanced EMT (AEMT): AEMTs must also have a high school diploma, and complete approved EMS training. Their advanced training allows them to administer fluids and use both basic and advanced life support equipment.
  • EMT-basic (EMT-B): An EMT-B completes a short EMT program lasting approximately 15 weeks. They have basic EMT training and knowledge, enabling them to control bleeding, stabilize fractures and address shock.
  • Emergency care attendant (ECA): An ECA functions as a first responder. They can perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation until higher-up EMTs arrive at the scene. Once more advanced EMTs arrive, ECAs assist them at the scene and during transport.

Before applying for a state EMS license, you must complete a few steps. The first step is taking an EMT course approved by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS). After completing said course, the next step is to complete the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) cognitive exam.

Continue reading to learn about these steps in greater detail.

Texas EMT Requirements

To become an EMT in Texas, you need:

  • To be at least 18 years old
  • To have your GED or high school diploma
  • To complete an EMS training course approved by the DSHS
  • To complete and submit an EMS personnel application and fee
  • To submit fingerprints for a Texas and Federal Bureau of Investigators (FBI) criminal record check
  • To gain National Registry certification through the NREMT cognitive exam to become eligible for state certification
  • A Basic Life Support (BLS) certification with the American Heart Association (AHA) (included in EMT training courses)
  • To pass a state-approved psychomotor exam (included in EMT training courses)
  • To be free of any significant body or mental ailments
  • To speak English fluently
  • To provide legal evidence of United States citizenship
  • To have a valid CPR certificate

Texas EMT Exam

To apply for the NREMT certification:

  1. Create an account on the NREMT website.
  2. Create an application and select the appropriate level of certification you’re seeking.
  3. After filling out the application, pay the nontransferable and nonrefundable fee.
  4. Check the application status on the NREMT website until you receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) letter in case the approving board requests additional actions for your certification.
  5. Once you receive the ATT letter, print it and book your NREMT cognitive exam.
  6. Once you pass the NREMT cognitive exam, you’ll receive your NREMT certification.

The exam consists of 70-120 questions and takes no more than two hours to complete. The exam covers such topics as airway management, cardiology, EMS operations, general trauma, health emergencies, oxygen therapy and ventilation. If you fail the exam, you can retake it after 15 days up to six times.

Texas EMT Certification Process

After completing the NREMT cognitive exam, you can begin the Texas EMT license process through the DSHS website.

Texas EMT student practicing and building skills

Follow these steps for the EMT licensing process in Texas:

1. Receive Proper EMT Training

Depending on the EMT certification level you aspire to, you have various options for EMT training. To become an LP, you’ll need to find an EMT program with a university or college that can hand out degrees. Both community colleges and medical trade schools often provide EMT training for any lower certification level.

Remember, the main differences between an LP and EMT-P lie in their names and education requirements. There is little difference in the profession itself. Any course you enroll in should be DSHS-approved. If you are an AEMT wishing to become a Paramedic, read here about our Accelerated Paramedic Program.

2. Apply for National Registry Certification

Texas uses the NREMT certification for examination purposes only. It typically takes four weeks after application submission to determine if the NREMT board has approved it.

Once you’ve received your Texas license, the NREMT certification becomes outmoded. You will see “certified” beside the certification status if you pass the exam. If additional actions are necessary, you will see “pending deficiencies” in that area.

3. Complete a Background Check

Various criminal offenses disqualify candidates from receiving an EMT license. To screen ineligible candidates, all applicants must complete an FBI fingerprint criminal record check. The DSHS provides you with a code to schedule an IdentoGo fingerprinting appointment. You’re responsible for any fees associated with the fingerprinting appointment.

4. Apply for an EMT License

With your NREMT certification and fingerprint record, you’ll be able to apply for an EMT license on the DSHS website. After completing the state application form, you can expect to receive your EMT license and ID card within four to six weeks. EMS certification will notify in writing if further information is necessary, delaying the certification process.

Can You Take an EMS Training Course Online?

As long as the online EMS training course is DSHS-approved, you can receive legitimate EMT certifications through an online EMS training course in Texas. With that in mind, it’s important to ensure you receive your EMT training from a trusted source recognized by the DSHS. Even if you’re out of state, you can take EMT training through an online course and become certified in your state through reciprocity.

If you’ve been certified for EMT practice in a state other than Texas, you can apply for Texas certification through reciprocity. If you have not taken the NREMT exam, you’ll need to take that exam before receiving Texas EMT certification. Along with the NREMT certification, you’ll also need to submit a criminal background check and a state verification form.

Group of Texas EMT students practicing together

Get Your Texas EMT License Through PERCOMOnline

WIth PERCOMOnline’s established EMS training program, in-state and out-of-state students seeking AEMT, EMT-P or EMT-B certifications progress at their own pace under a flexible schedule. Such flexibility has equated to high pass rates with the NREMT cognitive exam. We also provide EMT to paramedic bridge courses.

We’re happy to offer discounted rates if you’re an active military member. For more information about our EMS training programs at PERCOMOnline, we welcome you to call us today at (325) 480-2617.