How Long Does an EMT Certification Last?

Nationally Registered EMTs (NREMT) are required to renew their certification every two years. NREMTs can recertify by either taking the cognitive examination or by completing continuing education.

The EMT certification exam is designed to test your understanding of the major roles of an EMT and your ability to render critical emergency medical care under stressful circumstances. To ensure that you pass, it’s best to complete comprehensive training for the EMT exam. Otherwise, you might fail and need to repeat the training and test.

When considering a career as an EMT, many wonder how long it takes to get an EMT certification. In general, an EMT course takes approximately 120 hours to complete, which usually occurs three months or one semester at community college. 

This goes to show how important the EMT certification is. Once you acquire it, the next obvious concern will be how long it remains valid. Being up-to-date on your emergency care skills and knowledge is so important to the health and safety of those being treated that NREMT certifications need to be renewed regularly.

When to Renew Your EMT Certification

According to the NREMT, EMTs need to renew their certifications every two years. You can recertify by taking a cognitive examination or completing a continuing education course.

Note that the specific EMT certification renewal requirements vary from one state to the other. So, refer to the renewal requirements that apply to the state where you practice.

Recertification Through Continuing Education

EMT continuing education courses are available through the EMT National Continued Competency Program (NCCP). Under this program, you’re required to complete forty hours of ongoing education.

The program is divided into three parts: national, local or state, and individual sections. Make sure that the continuing education program you enroll in is recognized by the NREMT.

Some of the programs that are recognized by the NREMT are those delivered by an EMS education organization, state EMS offices, CAPCE-accredited programs, colleges and universities, the National Registry Alternative Recertification Credits Policy (NRARCP), etc.

The continuing education program you enroll in must be directly related to EMT services. If you’re an international EMT student, you must complete your education from the list of US education sources recognized by the NREMT.

Your continuing education training can be either online (distributive education) or in person. Currently, there’s no limit to the amount of online continuing education you can include in your application for EMT recertification.

Recertification Through a Cognitive Exam

This type of EMT recertification involves taking a cognitive test that is designed to show your abilities without undergoing continued education training. To take this exam, follow these steps:

  • Log into the NREMT site, apply for recertification, and pay the exam fee.
  • Wait twenty-four to forty-eight hours to log back into your NREMT account and print your Authorization to Test letter. The letter includes instructions on how to schedule your test.
  • Take the exam.

You’re only allowed to take the test once between April 1st (a year before the current certification expiration date) and March 31st, when your current certification expires. When you complete your test, an exam form with the details about your test will be posted in your NREMT account.

Submit this form before April 1st with your signature and other supporting documents to the NREMT. To be recertified, you must fulfill any and all other requirements, including any criminal conviction statements and verification of competencies.

Keep an Eye on the Dates

Being an EMT is an admirable career. As one of the first responders to a medical emergency, you play a key role in ensuring the safety of any persons who are injured or sick. So, be sure to keep track of any upcoming expiration dates and prepare for recertification by using resources from The Paramedic Coach!

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