Choosing a career which is not only satisfying but fulfilling should always be your objective. You want to get up every morning loving what you do so you can put 100% effort into your craft. One of the most popular career choices is becoming an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). In other words, this is like becoming a paramedic helping people in tough situations and who need someone to comfort them and provide them with the help they need. However, becoming an EMT is different for each state within the United States of American. As a matter of fact, one of the most popular questions I get asked from students is – How do I become an EMT and what do I need to fulfill all the requirements. So, here’s what I’ve decided to do to help all of you get started. I’ll be putting together EMT guides for every state, so you have a clear-cut plan to follow. I want to make sure you have all the information you need which will help make your journey a breeze.

This guide will be covering the following – How to be an EMT in California. We won’t just answer this question but explore the following too –

What are the EMT requirements in California?
What are the top EMT training programs in California?
How to apply for the California paramedic license renewal
The current EMT salary California and future outlook too.
Helpful tips for students to get through the program and find work once their studies are complete.

1) What Are the EMT Requirements in California?

Before starting, let’s explore quickly what an EMT does so you have a better understanding of the roles. Emergency Medical Technicians are first to arrive at the scene of an accident or medical emergency. EMT’s are health professionals who have been trained for emergency situations. Over the course of the EMT training, the students will learn how to handle different emergency situations and what needs to be done so that help is provided accurately. Next, they have also been trained to stay calm in extreme situations. For example, EMT’s could learn during their EMT training to – stay calm, increase communication skills, empathy, becoming familiar with automated external defibrillators, oxygen tanks, gurneys, patient restraints, and more.

To receive your EMT certification California, you need to meet the following requirements –

a) You will need to enrol and complete an approved EMT training program. The training program needs to be approved from the state of California because this will ensure you get the right experience needed. Approved schools follow the correct curriculum.

You can find a list of accredited EMT programs in California here – California Accredited EMT Programs. (We’ll provide our top programs below)

b) After you have completed the program and graduated. You will need to pass the California EMT (NEMT) examination. This is known as the cognitive part because you will need to answer 150 questions. For most states, the passing score will be 70%+.

c) The NEMT cognitive exam is the written portion. You will also need to complete the EMT Psychomotor Exam. Emergency Medical Technician psychomotor examsare coordinated and administered by the State EMS Office in the state where the training program is located. To schedule EMR or EMT exams, candidates should contact their course instructor. This exam is not written but more practical where you demonstrate your ability to provide care as needed.

d) Once you have successfully passed the NEMT examination, you will apply to get your certification for the local EMT agency. You can find your local agency here. They will request a background check and other information required. It’s a good idea to call ahead so you have all the information that’s required.

2) Before Registering to Take Your EMT Examination

Different states have different requirements before you can take the EMT state examination. Here are 4 things you need to have before you can apply to take the state examination.

a) Create your NREMT account

b) submitted application to write the test,

c) submitted payment when sending the form in

d) program director’s approval which will indicate that you have successfully complete the necessary requirements to write the state examination.

Once you have completed your application, your NREMT account will be updated with your Authorization to Test (ATT), usually within one to two business days.

You have 90 days from the day we issue your ATT to complete your cognitive exam. You will lose your ATT and the money you paid if you do not use your ATT in 90 days.

Go to the Pearson VUE website to schedule your cognitive exam. After your exam, your results will post to your NREMT account within 1-2 business days.

We will also update your NREMT account with your Psychomotor Authorization to Test (PATT) number after your application is complete. Use your PATT to sign up for a psychomotor exam.

You can search the list of available psychomotor exams on the NREMT website. Call the locations for availability. Let them know you want to test at the Paramedic level. They will ask you for your PATT number. After your psychomotor exam, your official results will post in four weeks to your NREMT account.

3) California EMT License Renewal

The state of California will NOT certify or renew your certification. They will send you to the local EMT agency in your area. You can find your local agency here. When calling, let them know if your EMT certification is about to expire, has been for less then 6 months or more then 6 months.

Before continuing, you can find more infomation here –  EMT recertification information 

Course completion records, refresher courses and continuing education courses are good for two years from the date they are issued for certification or recertification purposes.

Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when getting your EMT certification renewed.

  • Current California EMT certification.
  • Current CPR card equivalent to American Heart or Red Cross Basic Life Support. A copy of the front and back sides of the card or certificate with bar code and authentication number is required. Must be valid at least three months beyond the date a complete application is submitted. NOTE: Online CPR courses are not accepted
  • Proof of completion of a 24-hour EMT Refresher Course OR 24 hours of EMS CE within the EMT current certification cycle. NOTE: No more than 8 hours of EMS CE per day will be accepted.
  • Skills Competency Verification form (SCV 01/17) completed within the past two years and signed by an approved California provider.
  • Government Issued Identification with photo (Passport, CA I.D., Driver’s License). ONLY OBTAIN a Live Scan if your current EMT certification was NOT issued by the LA County EMS Agency.

4) Our Top Accredited EMT Training Programs in California

There are so many amazing EMT training programs in California. Even though, we would like to provide you a list of top EMT schools in California by city i.e. Los Angeles, San Diego and others. We decided to create those lists for another time. So, with that said, we have decided to provide a list of the top EMT schools in the state of California by rating. Many prospective EMT students don’t mind travelling a few hours to attend a reputable training program outside of the city. For example, some students we’ve had the pleasure speaking with live in Los Angeles but don’t mind travelling to San Diego or San Francisco to complete their training. Let’s get started.

a) UCLA Center of Prehospital Care (4.8/5)


Overview of Program

One of the best EMT programs available. It’s designed to go over all the fundamental of the EMT training, so you have a jump start into your career. UCLA is located in Los Angeles. The program is offered in a one-month accelerated classroom format as well as in an online format with on-site skills instruction. Please browse here for more information about the online EMT program.

Program Costs:

Accelerated Classroom Courses:

Course fee: $1,495 • Non-refundable: $100
Required Materials: $275.41

Online Course + Sundays or Evenings:

Course fee: $1,495 • Non-refundable: $100
Required Materials: $275.41 + optional test fees

Program Enrollment Requirements: (Direct From Website)

The following prerequisites need to be completed in order to complete the ride along portion of the EMT program. While they do not need to be completed by Day 1 of the course, we encourage students to complete them as soon as possible as to not delay ride along and course completion.

  • Provide proof of medical insurance for the duration of the program.
  • Obtain medical clearance from a physician, as described below.
  • Have a current CPR certification for healthcare providers: Basic Life Support for Healthcare Providers from either the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross. Please visit our BLS page for details.

Age Requirement: You must be at least 18 years old to be certified as an EMT in California. If you are not yet 18 years old, you may enroll in the course six months prior to your 18th birthday with the understanding that your certificate of course completion will be withheld until you turn 18. If you are under the age of 17½ you may still take this course, however, you will not be eligible for certification as an EMT in California.


The EMT program can be challenging, especially if students have limited experience with the physical sciences or human anatomy and physiology. We recommend all EMT students take our EMT Preparation course, which will familiarize you with basic medical terminology and body systems.

Medical Clearance

You must provide copies of the following. When enrolling, please download the Medical Requirements Document (pdf) for your physician’s completion including the items listed below.

Physical exam: Proof of a physical examination within the past 6 months, signed by a physician, stating you have no physical limitations for participating in the classroom and clinical components of the course.

Clearance for Mask Fit Testing: Your physician must also certify that you are able to participate in mask fit (respirator) testing. The actual mask fit testing will be performed during the course. The mask and testing materials are included in your course fee. The mask fit testing done in class requires men to shave their facial hair, e.g., beard or stubble, if it interferes with the seal of the mask. If you choose NOT to shave, you must provide your own optional air-purifying respirator (PAPR) in order to meet this mandatory course requirement. The cost of a PAPR unit is not included in the course fee.

Proof of the following immunizations:

  • Hepatitis B vaccine/immunity: Hepatitis-B vaccine (start of 3 shot series) or signed refusal form.
  • Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR): Proof of MMR vaccine or a positive MMR titer.
  • Tuberculosis: A negative TB skin test within three months of the beginning of the course. If you had a positive reaction to a previous skin test, please submit documentation of a negative chest x-ray.
  • Varicella: A varicella vaccination (or proof of immunization or a positive varicella titer).

Copy of health insurance card: You must provide proof of health insurance or worker’s compensation insurance for the ride along portion of the program. You are responsible for all payment of medical care related to exposure/injuries/illnesses.

Background Checks

Background checks are not required for completing the EMT course or passing the NREMT-B exam. The local certifying agency for EMTs and most employers hiring EMTs will require a background investigation to determine if an applicant has a criminal history. In addition to background checks, some employers will have applicants complete a DOT physical and require a good driving record to drive an ambulance.


  • “I am an attorney, which means I was in school for 19 years. 19 freakin’ years. And, I hated every minute of it. I signed up for the UCLA EMT program because a certification is required to be eligible to apply to fire departments. I chose UCLA because out of all of the available programs in Southern California, it has the highest NREMT pass rate at 97%. So, I expected the program to be solid, and I expected to be put in a position to become certified on my first attempt. However, I didn’t expect to enjoy the program so much. For the first time in my life, I enjoyed school, and the staff at UCLA was the main reason.”
  • “I just completed the EMT program with UCLA Center for Prehospital Care and I can conclude that I am extremely impressed with the level of education, facilities, the instructors and the program coordinators.“The program is tough and there is a lot expected of you. And rightfully so! To succeed in the course, you must take everything seriously and practice material daily! The program is a great stepping stone for anyone that wants to pursue a career in the medical field, regardless if you want to stay in Emergency Medicine or not. Many of the students are future firefighter, paramedics, nurses, PA’s, MD’s etc. You’re learning how to save people’s lives and the information/knowledge is invaluable.”

b) EMSTA College (4.3/5)


Overview of Program

This college is located here – 11489 Woodside Avenue, Santee, CA 92071. It has a great reputation and provides you with all the fundamentals you need to receive your EMT certification California. Once you have completed this program, you’ll be able to apply to take the NREMT examination in the state of California. EMSTA College is approved by the California State Approving Agency to enroll veterans and other eligible persons.

This college also offers an EMT refresher course. Information can be found here.

Program Costs:

EMT-Basic: Total cost $1,200*

  • Registration Fee $75 (Non-Refundable)
  • Deposit $325 due at Orientation
  • Payment #1 $400 due first class meeting
  • Payment #2 $400 due third week of class

*National Registry Skills testing is not included in the tuition for this class. The testing fee is $100.

Program Enrollment Requirements: (Direct from Website)

  • Prospective students must be 18 years of age or older
  • Prospective students must provide a copy of their high school diploma, certificate of completion or GED
  • Prospective students must provide a copy of a current American Heart Association, Healthcare Provider or American Red Cross, Professional Rescuer CPR card. No other certifying organizations will be accepted.
  • Prospective students must provide a copy of current medical insurance coverage (policy or wallet card). Students must maintain medical insurance throughout the Paramedic Training program.
  • Students must provide a copy of a valid driver’s license, state-issued identification card or other government-issued photographic identification


“The instructors set you up for success and the admin are super helpful with any needs. I truly believe they’ve prepared me for real world experience.”

“This is one of the best programs I have been apart of. I would recommend EMSTA college to anyone who wishes to succeed in their field of choice. They give you the tools you need to excel in everything you do. A simple math problem is all that’s required of you. effort + time= success! The facility is clean and has everything you need for your studies. The staff are always smiling and extremely helpful. I couldn’t have chosen a better college than EMSTA! you will never choose wrong with EMSTA college!”

c) City College of San Francisco (4/5)


Overview of Program

Rated one of the best accredited colleges to obtain your California EMT license. Straight from the website The CCSF EMT & Paramedic Programs are approved by the State of California EMS Authority and local approving EMS agency. “

If you are located in the Bay Area, then we recommend this college as your first choice. It covers all the fundamentals to prepare you for the EMT state license examination. This is a 8-unit course.

Program Costs:

COSTS: (subject to change without prior notice) $ 46 per semester unit for California resident $234 per semester for non-residents + $7 per unit for capital outlay fee + $46 per unit for enrollment fee $ 20 for Student Health Benefit fee for ALL students * Addition costs (if applicable) for books, certification, equipment, materials and/or uniforms, etc.

Program Enrollment Requirements: (Direct from Website)

  1. Must be 18 years of age and fulfill all requirements for enrollment in credit courses at CCSF.
  2. PREREQ: Current AHA Basic Life Support Provider CPR card. Certification must be for American Heart Association BLS Provider course only (no other CPR cards will be accepted).

Following successful completion of EMT 100 class, California EMT Certification requires the following: 1. Passing score on National Registry Certification Exam – test fee. 2. Proof of Live Scan fingerprinting or Criminal background search – agency fee 3. Application to EMS Agency – agency fee

d) California Institute Emergency Medical Training (4.2/5)


Overview of Program

CIEMT is located at 2669 Myrtle Ave # 201, Signal Hill, CA 90755, USA. A very popular program designed to provide the skills and knowledge to function as an EMT. This course will prepare you for the state NREMT examination. All equipment required during training will be provided by the school at no extra cost.

Program Costs:


Program Enrollment Requirements: (Direct from Website)

The only prerequisites for the EMT-Basic course are that the student has a current American Heart Association CPR/AED Healthcare Provider card. (CIEMT will gladly provide the AHA certification at a reduced cost for students currently enrolled in the CIEMT EMT-Basic Course. This course is given right after Rules and Regulations on the start date of each program.) Students must also hand in a copy of their GED or High school diploma which is a requirement per the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education.


“This is the second time I recert w/ Mr. Goodman and his crew. I have 10 years in the field. If you’re planning on taking the course at CIEMT you have to be very serious. It goes by fast. Show up with your A game. One of these days someone’s life just may depend on your skill. Thank you Mr.Goodman. Forget all the losers that can’t cut the mustard. You run an excellent program. Tip top and top notch. See you in another two years. Hopefully I’ll be working on my RN training.”

“Real world training from real world experienced instructors. If you ever need to use the skills in a real world situation, you better hope you learned them from Matt and his experienced team of instructors. If you can complete their course, the NREMT is a breeze. It’s only obvious that certain classes are designed to weed out people who just aren’t a fit for the job, so don’t mind some of the negative reviews. Personally, I’d want a Responder capable of responding, not some person who finally decides it isn’t their thing when they are called to treat me either.”

e) EMT Education and Training (4.6/5)


Overview of Program

Located 13933 Crenshaw Blvd Hawthorne, CA 90250. This training program has a lot of awesome reviews on Google. It’s accredited and provides you with everything you need to prepare you for the EMT state examination in California. It’s a fun, fast-paced training environment where you’ll learn all the fundamentals of being an Emergency Medical Technician.

Program Costs:

Initial Certification Program for EMT $ 1,010.00

Textbook Fee: $85.00

Total Course Charge: $1095.00

Program Enrollment Requirements: (Direct from Website)

The only prerequisite for the EMT course is a current American Heart Association CPR/AED Healthcare Provider card. (CIEMT will provide the AHA certification at a reduced cost for students currently enrolled in the CIEMT EMT Course.)

Students must also provide a copy of their GED or High school diploma which is a requirement per the Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education.


“Just completed the program! Not going to over-exaggerated whether it’ll make prospective EMT students feel intimidated or think it’ll be a breeze. But in all honesty, I really love the quality of the program and how it prepares me to be successful. It was challenging for me because I took the 7-9 week accelerated course where I meet T- Thr and Saturday. I’ve never taken anything accelerated before, but I learn to adapt and to stay on top of my game by prioritizing and definitely managing my time well.”  

“This is an excellent program for prospective Emergency Medical Technicians. Reasons below.

Mike is an excellent and passionate teacher. You can tell that each lecture has been meticulously crafted to present the material in a fun, interesting, and engaging way. In addition, Mike understands the importance of study groups among students and provides a space for that. This really promotes a positive class environment where everyone genuinely works together to help one another succeed.”

5) Current EMT Salary in California?

a) EMT-Basic Salaries in California: (Low: $29,291 – High: $38,000) (Average Hourly: $12.00 – $15.00)

b) EMT-Paramedic Salaries in California: (Low: $40,309 – High: $54,000)

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