How to Become an EMT in Texas?

The Short Answer

In order to become an EMT in Texas you must hold a certification from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) as an EMT.

Eight Requirements to Becoming an EMT in Texas

  1.  You must be at least 18  years of age.
  2.  You must have completed High School, a homeschool equivalent, or obtained a GED.
  3.  You must undergo a background check.
  4.  You must complete a course approved by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)
  5. You must hold an American Heart Association Basic Life Support Certification
  6. Pass the NREMT Cognitive Exam
  7. Pass a state approved Psychomotor Exam
  8. Apply for a License with DSHS
Becoming an EMT in Texas requires students to demonstrate competency in Psychomotor skills.
Simulations in Preparation for the Psychomotor Exam

The Details:

You Must Be at least 18 Years of Age

Younger applicants may occasionally find schools that will allow admission into their EMT course prior to the date that the candidate turns 18, but most schools will not allow students to graduate who not at least 18 years of age. Many 911 providers and hospitals will not accept students who haven’t turned 18 or may require special documentation including waivers from parents.

You Must Have Completed a High School Diploma

Most schools will accept traditional high school diplomas, proof of the home-schooling equivalent, or proof of completion of a GED or General Educational Diploma.  Texas EMS School will also accept any college-level transcript as proof of high school completion.

You Must Undergo a Background Check

There are certain criminal offenses that may disqualify a candidate from obtaining an EMS license in Texas.  The good news is that the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) allows potential candidates to petition to be pre-screened.  This generally allows candidates to understand the likelihood that will be eligible for licensing prior to enrolling in an EMT course. 

While substance abuse offenses don’t necessarily disqualify an applicant, they may if the punishment for the offense was increased due to other criminal activity.  Prior to enrolling in an EMT course, candidates should contact DSHS to Petition for an EMS Criminal History Pre-Screening if they believe they may have criminal offenses in their background that would cause them to be unable to obtain an EMS license.

You must complete a course approved by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

As you evaluate schools, ask each school if they are accredited by, or in the process of becoming accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).  CAAHEP relies upon the  Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoAEMP) to evaluate EMS education providers to ensure they they meet certain standards.  While it is possible to offer basic EMS courses in Texas without this accreditation, choosing a school with an affiliation with these two organizations indicates that the school is also able to offer advanced EMS programs such as the Paramedic Certification.

You must hold an American Heart Association Basic Life Support Certification

Texas EMS School includes this additional certification in the EMT tuition, but depending upon which school you choose, you may be required to have the American Heart Association BLS certification either prior to enrolling or prior to graduating their course.  You should also be aware that their are other CPR certifications that are valuable and readily available, but most 911 providers, hospitals and EMS schools require the AHA BLS certification.

Pass the NREMT Cognitive Exam

Once you have completed your EMT course, you will receive a Certificate of Completion which you will provide to NREMT.  Once they have confirmed you have completed an approved course, and you pay a fee for registration, you will be issued an Authorization to Test.  You may then schedule the NREMT Cognitive Examination.  The exam is often offered at testing centers in larger cities in Texas, but it may also be possible for the test to be taken on your own computer at home.  These tests are proctored, which means that you may have to have a second video device such as a phone or computer with Internet access that is used to monitor you while you are taking the test.

Pass a state approved Psychomotor Exam

Texas EMS School is authorized to act as a testing center for the Psychomotor examinations, but if the school you choose is not approved to do testing, you will be required to attend a Psychomotor testing session elsewhere.  The Psychomotor exams require students to complete certain tasks in a simulated environment to demonstrate that they are ready to begin clinical activity.

Apply for a License with DSHS

This is the fun one! With your NREMT certification you will be able to visit the DSHS website and apply for licensure.  DSHS will require that you submit fingerprints as a part of the process.  Candidates are encourage to apply as soon as they are eligible because the process may take several weeks depending upon the situation.