Many people consider a career change at some point in life and others know right what they want to be from the time they are a little kid, but what about if you want to be a paramedic or an EMT? Are there any age constraints on these jobs? Well, there are, but they are fairly straightforward.
To become an EMT or Paramedic you must be at least 18 years of age, but there is no upper age limit. You cannot take the final NREMT exam until you are 18, though you may be able to start the EMT program at 17 years old.
There are some general requirements to be an EMT or Paramedic, including these basic age limits. Let’s take a look at why they restrict this training based on age and what some of the other requirements are. Here’s what you need to know about becoming a paramedic or an EMT.
Also read: Can I Become A Firefighter At 30/40/50?
What Is The Age Limit To Become An EMT?
There is no maximum age for entry onto an EMT course.
There are plenty of stories of people in their 50s and even in their 60s choosing to undertake this qualification. And there’s no reason that someone in their 90s or older (as long as they could do the work) couldn’t become an EMT, though it seems unlikely that this would happen in practice.
However, there is a minimum age threshold, and this is set by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).
In order to practice as an EMT in the United States, you must pass an NREMT certification exam and they will not allow you to take this exam until you reach the age of 18.
To learn about what to expect on the NREMT exam, watch this video:
There’s nothing to stop you from starting your studies younger than this, however, but you can’t be a fully qualified EMT until you pass the NREMT exam.
What Are The Prerequisites To Become An EMT?
The process of becoming an EMT is not designed to be particularly complicated.
Other than the age requirement there are two strict criteria that you will need to meet to get onto an EMT training course and/or take the NREMT exam:
- You must not have been convicted of a federal crime. You will be expected to disclose any convictions that you may have when applying to become an EMT. It is up to the individual state to decide on which offenses merit disqualification, but all federal convictions will prevent you from practicing as an EMT – the NREMT will not allow you to take the exam in this instance.
- You will need to be CPR certified and this must be at the level of Healthcare Provider. The good news is that you don’t have to have this to apply to EMT school, but you must have it by the time you start. It takes about 2 weeks to do this certificate and you shouldn’t find it very hard to find a local training provider to deliver it while your application for EMT school is being processed.
However, it’s important to note that these are the “strict criteria” in that all EMTs must meet them.
Your school or college or university is free to add any further restrictions as it sees fit and may require anything from transcripts to certifications of numeracy and literacy.
To find a CPR class near you, this page on the American Heart Association website will allow you to search for classes by location.
Am I Too Old To Become A Paramedic?
No, no-one is too old to train as a paramedic, at least, in theory.
In practice, of course, this requires an honest assessment of the individual’s overall level of fitness and cognitive capacity. While there may a 100-year-old out there that can fly through the training course, some of the physical challenges of the job may be difficult.
There is also no minimum age, officially, to become a paramedic but that’s because all paramedics must have an EMT-basic qualification (as a minimum) prior to being accepted on to the paramedic’s training course.
So, this requirement means that the minimum age to become a paramedic student is 18.
It is important, however, no matter what age you are, to be aware that a paramedic’s job is not an easy one.
It is highly physically demanding and a basic level of fitness, no matter what age you are, is essential if you want to cope effectively in the job.
You will have to:
- Carry equipment which can be very heavy
- You may also have to lift people up and carry them too in certain circumstances
- You will stand up a lot while on the job
- You will need to be able to bend and reach things
- You may also be asked to sit for long periods of time before springing into action
- You will have to be able to climb up and downstairs at times, potentially, a lot of stairs if you work in a big city
There are also mental demands on paramedics that must be met and you will also be expected to:
- Keep your wits about you at all times even under stress (head on a swivel)
- Make effective decisions when dealing with life-threatening situations
- Communicate with patients, friends, and onlookers to keep situations under control
So, it’s important to ask yourself, if this is the kind of thing that you are good at, because it’s hard work to train to be a paramedic, you don’t want to get to the end and then find the job’s too much for you, either.
That being said, most healthy, able-bodied individuals should be able to handle these challenges.
Also read: Are EMTs/Paramedics A Respected Profession?
What Are The Prerequisites To Become A Paramedic?
There are only two real prerequisites to become a paramedic:
- Tuition Money (or Federal Student Aid) – paramedic school costs approximately the same as you would pay for two semesters of full-time college courses. You will also need to pay for books, materials and if you need them, your living costs. This can range from about $5000 to $20000+. It’s worth noting that public schools can usually help you get Federal Student Aid for financing and private schools may also offer some form of alternative financing.
- EMT Certification – nobody gets into a paramedic program without having passed the NREMT EMT-basic certification. So, don’t think you can run around that process by applying directly to be a paramedic.
One other thing which is not a “hard requirement” is that many schools may require experience working as an EMT prior to starting a paramedic course.
This allows them to relate their learning to the real world and to better understand how to apply their learning once they finish as a paramedic.
Typically, a student will undertake 1-2 years of practical experience as an EMT prior to applying to their chosen paramedic’s course. Some paramedic’s courses now have a specific minimum amount of experience in order to apply too – this can be as little as 6 months, though.
To learn a little more about what paramedic school is like, watch this:
It is worth noting, that the limit on criminal convictions remains too. If you have gained EMT certification, then you are convicted of a federal offense, your NREMT certification will be automatically revoked – this means that you cannot work as a paramedic either.
What is the age limit to be a paramedic/EMT? To become an EMT, you cannot be below the age of 18, otherwise, you will not be allowed to take the NREMT final exam, which allows you to practice as an EMT. However, you can take the EMT course earlier as long as you don’t take the examination until you reach 18.
As for paramedics? Well, you must have an EMT qualification in place and then pass a paramedic’s course and certification. This means in practice that the earliest anyone can study to be a paramedic is 18 (as this is when they can certify as an EMT) and that given it will take a couple of years, at least, to gain the right level of experience and qualifications – practically you’re not going to be a paramedic until you are 19 or 20 at the earliest.