EMTs smile proudly after a job well done

Pros and Cons of Being an EMT

EMT’s (Emergency Medical Technician) are the people that ride in ambulances to provide emergency treatment en route to the hospital from the site of the emergency. EMT’s are vital to patients survival in many situations. Not everyone can handle the high stress, blood and gore career of being an EMT. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of being an EMT.

Pro: Training is much faster than many other medical professions.

If you’re ready to start working, want to be in medicine, but don’t want to spend a lot of time in classes, an EMT job may be a great option for you. While paramedics generally have to have an associate's degree, you can usually complete an EMT training program in as little as one year (about 150 hours of courses). More advanced EMT courses may require as many as 400 hours, but this is still considerably less training than what’s required of doctors.

Con: Being an EMT is labor intensive.

EMT’s have to be able to engage in a lot of physical activity. You have to lift people—sometimes even up or down several flights of stairs. You also have to be able to move quickly and carefully. Be prepared to stand, crouch, or stay in one position for long periods of time. If you’re going to be an EMT, you should be prepared to have a strenuous job, and realize that the old you get the harder it’ll be on your body.

Pro: You’ll have job stability and room to grow.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paramedics and EMT’s are looking at a job growth rate of about 24%, which is much higher than average. This is great, as it means that you not only have job stability, but also have the potential to alternative positions in other places. Additionally, you don’t have to feel “stuck.” Not only can you go for the more advanced EMT position, you may eventually decide you’d like to be a paramedic or other health care professional. In fact, physicians assistants are often required to spend a couple of years in the field (doing things like being an EMT) to prepare them for PA programs.

Con: EMT’s are also under a lot of mental strain.

Being an EMT can be hard on more than just your body. You have to be prepared to see a lot of really horrific accidents. You may see patients who have lost a limb, gotten shot, stabbed, suffered head injuries, or even hold someone’s hand while they die. Some of your patients may be dangerous—not just to themselves, but to you as well. As an EMT, it’s important to be comfortable in quite a variety of frightening situations.

Pro: Despite the turmoil, it’s an exciting career.  

One of the thing many EMT’s love about their job is that there’s never a boring day. Being an EMT can be thrilling. You might be driving the ambulance at top speed, or sitting in the back saving a life. You’re at the scene of car accidents, fires, shootings, fights, and all sorts of other things. Every day is different, and every trip will require something of you.

Con: If you don’t love what you’re doing, it can get old fast.

Burn outs can be a big problem for EMT’s. It can be hard seeing so many sick, hurt, and dying people, day after day. If you don’t truly enjoy being an EMT, it’s going to be hard. Additionally, many EMTs work long shifts—some work 12 hours or more at a time. This can make it difficult to see your family, particularly if you’re working at night.

Last Updated: January 11, 2017