By Arthur Hsieh

All states require you to renew your EMT certificate periodically. The time frame varies from one part of the country to the next, but many states have a two-year interval. Some states require you to use the NREMT renewal process to recertify. Other states have their own renewal process. You should consult your state EMS office for exact details.

If your state requires you to follow the NREMT renewal process, you need to do one of the following every two years:

  • Take a refresher course plus continuing education classes: This option requires you to complete a combination of an approved, 24-hour EMT refresher course and an additional 48 hours of ongoing continuing education classes.

    • EMT refresher class: The refresher class is exactly that — a course designed to refresh your original knowledge base and, in some cases, verify your skill competency. It’s designed to renew baseline knowledge that you may not have used or may have forgotten over your certification period.

      A written test is usually given at the end of the class to confirm that you possess the appropriate baseline knowledge and skill set for EMT practice (sometimes a practical test is also given).

    • Continuing education classes: Receiving your NREMT card doesn’t signal the end of your training; in fact, it’s really the beginning! Medicine is a continuously evolving science and art. New discoveries occur every day, and eventually some make it into the world of prehospital medicine.

      Continuing education classes help increase your body of EMT knowledge. They can be traditional, in-classroom courses; online courses; or a combination of the two, called a hybrid. Regardless of how the instruction is delivered, continuing education courses keep you up to speed in the world of prehospital medicine.

    Refresher and continuing education classes are offered by a variety of organizations, such as EMS agencies, fire departments, community colleges, and private education providers. You can search the web for organizations near you. Also, several providers provide online continuing education; you need to check whether the courses they teach are accepted in your state.

  • Retake the NREMT exam: This option gives you the ability to renew your registration by retaking the initial exam. This is a good choice if your state requires fewer continuing education hours than the NREMT renewal process, and you’d prefer to take only the minimum number of hours necessary to maintain your certification. You can find additional information at the NREMT website.

A valid CPR card is also necessary. In addition, you must be working as an EMS professional and have your skills verified by your agency’s training program director, director of operations, or physician medical director. Complete information can be found at the NREMT website.

States that don’t require the NREMT renewal process have their own recertification process. Check with your state’s EMS office for details.