emt programs in california

Last Updated on December 22, 2022

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emt programs in california

How to Become an EMT in California

How to Become an EMT in California?

Are you calm under pressure? Is helping others at the top of your career considerations? Are you interested in a job that is less-than-routine? You might make a great emergency medical technician (EMT)!

Most of us are familiar with the emergency procedures EMTs provide on-the-scene when every second counts — performing CPR on a patient after a heart attack or dressing a wound after a car accident.

But EMTs have many choices when it comes to choosing where to work and with the proper training, an EMT can take their emergency medical services career in a variety of directions.  There are numerous opportunities for advancement — especially in California, where certified EMTs can be found working in ambulance companies, hospitals, amusement and national parks, oil rigs, fire and/or police departments, SWAT, stadiums, special events, and more.

How to Become an EMT in California

The Division of Extended Learning at National University offers an EMT-Certification course that gives students the necessary certification and license to operate as an emergency medical technician in California. National University has four convenient locations in California that offer the EMT certificate: two in San Diego (Chula Vista, Kearny Mesa) and two more in San Jose and Fresno.

When choosing between EMT schools in any state, keep in mind that EMTs must be certified by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians before they can begin work, and in order to take state and national certification exams ($80 exam fee in California), you must earn your credentials from an accredited EMT school. Both of National University’s EMT/EMS programs are accredited; that’s an important consideration when you are looking into becoming an EMT and choosing an educational program.

Becoming an EMT in California

The Division of Extended Learning at National University offers an EMT-Certification course that gives students the necessary certification and license to operate as an emergency medical technician in California. National University has four convenient campuses in California that offer the EMT certificate: two locations in San Diego (Chula Vista, Kearny Mesa) and two more in San Jose and Fresno.

Because of the hands-on nature of the job, EMT courses are not usually offered online. It’s not surprising that approximately 90 percent of people who pursue careers in emergency medicine are kinesthetic learners — they learn more by carrying out physical day-to-day activities rather than listening to demos and lectures. This led Cody Rogers to develop an integrated “hands-on” approach in how National University’s EMT training is delivered.

“The professional trajectory of an emergency medical technician is rarely from Point A to Point B,” says Rogers. “There are a variety of jobs hiring a wide range of medical backgrounds, but it all starts with getting your EMT certificate. That’s where we come in.”

Becoming an EMT: What Makes National University Different?

The EMT program at National is built around comprehensive lesson plans that focus on helping students achieve their personal goals, allowing them to apply what is learned in class to the career areas that interest them most. Rogers’ goal is to provide an EMS umbrella of programs as a one-stop-shop of skilled students ready for employment. With this in mind, he aims to broaden horizons for students “before, during, and after” EMT course completion.

“We offer a free open house to anyone wanting to learn about becoming an EMT in California — there’s no commitment, just cookies,” jokes Rogers.

After two years at the helm, Rogers still believes the EMT/EMS program’s adaptive quality is one of NU’s competitive advantages, unmatched by other training choices. His innovative predecessor worked to ensure that students could take the EMT program as a standalone credit course, or as one of the mapped healthcare “pillars” on their way to their ultimate dream job.

“We often call our EMT certification course a ‘gateway program’ because it leads students to numerous EMS and allied health professions such as PA and nursing school, or to learn about critical techniques needed for the ICU, or for working as helicopter paramedics,” says Rogers.

Clearly, another advantage of NU’s program is Rogers himself. His own career trajectory from being a high school graduate taking night school classes to later serving as a firefighter, an EMT, and a paramedic allows him to share many valuable insights gained on-the-job. And he’s not alone in understanding what it takes to be successful in the emergency medical field. His alternating team of more than 42 adjunct instructors (statewide) have all exceeded the minimum teaching standards, having served as EMTs for at least two years before teaching others.

“It’s no wonder our students are inspired to do great things — our instructors are all shining examples of how hard work pays off, which is why every single one gets rave reviews on their end-of-course surveys,” says Rogers.

“That’s our philosophy; it’s not enough to offer standard course requirements for certification, our instructors also share and apply personal experience from the field with their students and have even been known to help them afterward with job recommendations and guidance,” adds Rogers. “In light of wanting to support students even after they finish the EMT program, alumni receive a 25% discount for any of the eight EMS continuing education courses offered which helps build their knowledge-base and bolster student resumes for job attainment.”

Once a National University EMT student is finished and registered, they have access to a short, 16-hour EMT pre-employment workshop, as well as phone recommendations when ambulance companies come calling for new recruits. “Even after certification, we’re dedicated to helping students get the resources they need,” says Rogers.

With all the types of terrain found in California — desert, ocean, forests, highly-populated cities, rural farming counties — Rogers says you are likely to run into a National University EMT program alum working almost anywhere. “One of our EMS program coordinators was once our student. Another student finished the program and now he’s a medic on an oil rig in the middle of the  Gulf of Mexico; another drives an off-road vehicle around Big Sur National Park as a wilderness EMT,” comments Rogers. “Typically, geographic location dictates the level of an EMT’s scope of practice and specific daily functions, so choose wisely based on your preference.”

In line with trying to make entry requirements as streamlined and easy as possible for students, National University’s EMT program includes the pre-requisite CPR certification within the course. Class sizes vary, but most are capped at around 20 students to ensure a personalized learning experience.

“If someone is comparing our program against another based on price alone, we suggest they list out all the known items they’ll receive with our all-inclusive pricing versus the hidden costs of some of the other ‘rinse and repeat’ programs out there. With NU, for $1,467, you’ll get your course uniform, a choice of day or night classes, your choice of on-site locations, student resource book, online learning platforms, and so much more. Honestly, the only thing we can’t include is the fee to take your written national registry test!”

How Long Does It Take to Become an EMT?

Every two months, National University kicks-off another standalone EMT course set. “Instructor variety,” versus having the same teacher for the duration of the program, is something that National students have singled out as a big plus. It typically takes 12 weeks to finish the program, unless you choose the accelerated eight-week class option to earn your certificate faster. (In contrast, traditional EMT programs can take up to 16 weeks to complete.)

As a student in the program, you can choose between day or evening classes at any of the four locations. You’ll learn basic anatomy and physiology relevant to serving as an emergency medical technician, with an emphasis on the nervous system, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems. You’ll roll up your sleeves and learn how to care for the sick and injured, including dealing with communicable diseases and trauma. You’ll also learn the practical skills of basic life support (BLS) including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques, taking blood pressures, pulse and respiratory rates, assessing lung sounds, completing detailed trauma and medical assessments, and administering the eight medications that fall under the EMT scope of practice for emergency care.

Is There a Difference Between an EMT and a Paramedic?

Although many people think of EMTs and paramedics interchangeably, they’re actually two separate jobs. Becoming an EMT is the first step to a career in emergency medical services. The study of paramedics is a more advanced second step involving additional training and expansion in patient care knowledge and responsibility, such as administering medications in the field. For this reason, the length of time and study to become a paramedic takes considerably longer, close to 9 to 14 months, unlike the relatively quick path to achieving an EMT certificate in only 6 to 16 weeks, on average.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) is projected to grow by 33% between 2010 and 2020. This unprecedented growth rate — more than double the average growth rate for all occupations — is a result of post-secondary EMT programs increasing in both quality and quantity. But with so many different programs available, students now have the difficult job of choosing the school that will reward them with the highest possible return on their college investment. Any of the 80 colleges and universities below would be excellent choices for financially-conscious students.

Using only the most trusted data, we crafted this list of the EMT programs with the highest degree value in the country. The institutions included on our list have annual tuition rates below $10,000 — this figure includes tuition only; some colleges may have other fees associated with enrollment — and graduates from any of these schools that pursue careers in the EMT and Paramedic field can expect to make at least three times that amount yearly.

1College of the Sequoias$34,210$72818,665VisaliaCalifornia
2Butte College$34,210$86417,877OrovilleCalifornia
3East Los Angeles College$34,210$95854,962Monterey ParkCalifornia
4Santa Rosa Junior College$34,210$98036,845Santa RosaCalifornia
5Bakersfield College$34,210$1,00827,426BakersfieldCalifornia
6Los Medanos College$34,210$1,00814,574PittsburghCalifornia
7Skyline College$34,210$1,08016,298San BrunoCalifornia
8Navarro College$31,980$1,08015,272CorsicanaTexas
9Central New Mexico Community College$34,740$1,15843,062AlbuquerqueNew Mexico
10San Jacinto Community College$31,980$1,51241,792PasadenaTexas
11Eastern Arizona College$31,150$1,60010,426ThatcherArizona
12El Paso Community College$31,980$1,60841,768El PasoTexas
13New Mexico State University-Dona Ana$34,740$1,60813,358Las CrucesNew Mexico
14Yavapai College$31,150$1,60812,973PrescottArizona
15Austin Community College District$31,980$1,63577,953AustinTexas
16Arizona Western College$31,150$1,68013,344YumaArizona
17West Georgia Technical College$30,340$1,80012,507WacoGeorgia
18Gwinnett Technical College$30,340$1,80011,010LawrencevilleGeorgia
19Georgia Northwestern Technical College$30,340$1,80010,411RomeGeorgia
20Broward College$32,650$1,81060,085Fort LauderdaleFlorida
21College of Central Florida$32,650$1,81912,325OcalaFlorida
22Mesa Community College$31,150$1,82441,836MesaArizona
23Glendale Community College$31,150$1,82432,962GlendaleArizona
24Phoenix College$31,150$1,82421,392PhoenixArizona
25Scottsdale Community College$31,150$1,82417,702ScottsdaleArizona
26Paradise Valley Community College$31,150$1,82416,046PhoenixArizona
27Santa Fe College$32,650$1,84021,793GainesvilleFlorida
28Hillsborough Community College$32,650$1,87540,213TampaFlorida
29Brevard Community College$32,650$1,89225,283CocoaFlorida
30Pensacola State College$32,650$1,95417,485PensacolaFlorida
31Florida State College at Jacksonville$32,650$1,99549,670JacksonvilleFlorida
32Tallahassee Community College$32,650$1,99721,176TallahasseeFlorida
33Gulf Coast State College$32,650$2,04210,716Panama CityFlorida
34Oklahoma City Community College$31,530$2,14622,522Oklahoma CityOklahoma
35Houston Community College$31,980$2,16092,869HoustonTexas
36Pasco-Hernando Community College$32,650$2,18815,065New Port RicheyFlorida
37Northwest Florida State College$32,650$2,25611,803NicevilleFlorida
38Tyler Junior College$31,980$2,28015,806TylerTexas
39Valencia College$32,650$2,30059,259OrlandoFlorida
40Palm Beach State College$32,650$2,30443,530Lake WorthFlorida
41St Petersburg College$32,650$2,32443,534LargoFlorida
42Miami Dade College$32,650$1,235 (One Semester)99,232MiamiFlorida
43Seminole State College of Florida$32,650$2,36526,884SanfordFlorida
44Polk State College$32,650$2,37315,150Winter HavenFlorida
45Indian River State College$32,650$2,37626,197Fort PierceFlorida
46El Centro College$31,980$2,49019,312DallasTexas
47Edison State College$32,650$2,50824,097Fort MyersFlorida
48Front Range Community College$39,560$2,54030,268WestminsterColorado
49Community College of Denver$39,560$2,54019,455DenverColorado
50Arapahoe Community College$39,560$2,54018,336LittletonColorado
51Red Rocks Community College$39,560$2,54015,229LakewoodColorado
52Pueblo Community College$39,560$2,54112,224PuebloColorado
53Lone Star College System$31,980$2,64086,966The WoodlandsTexas
54Delgado Community College$36,790$2,64026,924New OrleansLouisiana
55Colorado Mountain College$39,560$2,67010,740Glenwood SpringsColorado
56North West Arkansas Community College$30,110$2,82012,190BentonvilleArkansas
57Daytona State College$32,650$3,07425,231Daytona BeachFlorida
58Southwest Tennessee Community College$31,780$3,09619,989MemphisTennessee
59Chattanooga State Community College$31,780$3,09613,549ChattanoogaTennessee
60Volunteer State Community College$31,780$3,09612,351GallatinTennessee
61Seattle Community College-North Campus$50,980$3,15211,345SeattleWashington
62Community College of Aurora$39,560$3,17511,652AuroraColorado
63Dixie State College of Utah$35,180$3,28811,387Saint GeorgeUtah
64Chemeketa Community College$38,450$3,46522,782SalemOregon
65College of Southern Idaho$30,830$3,64013,727Twin FallsIdaho
66Hudson Valley Community College$39,210$3,70019,325TroyNew York
67Kalamazoo Valley Community College$30,150$4,09217,572KalamazooMichigan
68Arkansas Tech University$30,110$4,32011,783RussellvilleArkansas
69Lansing Community College$30,150$4,74031,462LansingMichigan
70South Texas College$31,980$4,93536,951McAllenTexas
71City Colleges of Chicago-Wilbur Wright College$48,350$5,20719,590ChicagoIllinois
72City Colleges of Chicago-Malcolm X College$48,350$5,20713,065ChicagoIllinois
73Pikes Peak Community College$39,560$6,04221,987Colorado SpringsColorado
74Prairie State College$48,350$6,19212,010Chicago HeightsIllinois
75Southwestern Illinois College$48,350$6,46824,685BellevilleIllinois
76Triton College$48,350$7,31423,343River GroveIllinois
77Elgin Community College$48,350$8,06419,357ElginIllinois
78Harper College$48,350$8,62828,292PalatineIllinois
79South Suburban College$48,350$8,64015,724South HollandIllinois
80College of DuPage$48,350$9,15748,128Glen EllynIllinois

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