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EMT Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)?

To become an EMT in the State of California, you will need to successfully complete an approved EMT training program. You may find a list of approved training programs here. After you have completed your training, you must pass a National Registry written and skills certifying examination and apply for certification at a local EMS agency. The local EMS agency may have additional requirements such as paying a fee, supplying a picture or undergoing a background check. It is a good idea to call ahead and find out what, if any, additional requirements exist.

  • How long is my course completion record valid to apply for initial EMT certification or recertification?

Course completion records are good for a period of two years. For an initial certification, you have two years time in which to take your certification exam and obtain an EMT certificate. For recertification, your approved course completion refresher course or continuing education certifications are also good for a period of two years.

  • Can I transfer my EMT certification to California, and if so, what is required?

In California, EMTs are certified by a local (county) EMS agency. You can contact the local EMS agency in the county in which you will be working or residing for information on reciprocity. In most cases, the local EMS agency will review your documentation, i.e., course completion record, out-of-state certification, National Registry card, etc., to ascertain whether or not it meets California and local requirements. Also, unless you hold a current National Registry EMT-Basic card, you will be asked to take a written and skills examination and perhaps additional training specified by the local EMS agency. If you are currently certified by another state and do not have a current National Registry EMT-Basic certification, you will need to pass the National Registry EMT-Basic written and skills examination.

In order to recertify, an EMT must possess a current EMT card and have obtained either 24 hours of approved EMS continuing education or an approved 24 hour refresher course within the past two years. Any refresher course or CE must be through an approved training program. Additionally, EMTs are to complete the “EMT Skills Competency Verification Form” EMSA-SCV (08-10) that you can find here. National Registry certification does not need to be renewed for recertification in California.  Once these criteria are met, contact the local EMS agency to apply for recertification.

EMT certifications are good for two years from the date issued (except in the case of persons seeking reciprocity from out of state with current National Registry cards; see #3 above). Lapsed certifications may require additional continuing education (CE) as outlined below:

  • For lapses of less than 6 months, 24 hours of CE or 24 hours of an approved refresher course is required with no additional CE
  • For lapses of 6 months to less than 12 months an additional 12 hours of CE for a total of 36 hours of CE is required
  • For lapses of 12 months to less than 24 months an additional 24 hours of CE for a total of 48 hours of CE is required and the applicant must pass the written and skills certification exam.
  • For lapses of 24 months or more, the individual must complete an entire EMT course and successfully pass the written and skills certifying exam and apply with a local EMS agency for certification.

Successful completion of the EMT Skills Competency Verification Form” EMSA-SCV (08-10) is necessary for lapsed EMT certifications between 0 and 12 months.

  • I have been overseas involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom and my EMT or Advanced EMT certification or Paramedic license has expired. What can I do?

For those individuals whose certificates expired during the time they were on active duty, or less than six (6) months after their return, an extension of their certificate may be given for up to six months from the time they returned from active duty. Verification of the individual’s active duty is required. Also, certified individuals whose military duty required them to use their EMT, AEMT or Paramedic skills, credit may be given for documented training they received while on duty for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These individuals would need to provide documentation from their Commanding Officer(s) attesting to classes attended and successful completion.

For more information, please contact Betsy Slavensky at (916) 431-3717 or email

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