EMT Requirements: How to Become an Emergency Medical Technician in Illinois

Illinois Emergency Medical Technicians are under the jurisdiction of the Division of EMS & Highway Safety, a part of the Illinois Department of Public Health. There are multiple designations, including EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate, and Advanced EMT; all EMT designations are below the level of paramedic. Most Illinois Emergency Medical Technicians who progress beyond the basic level do achieve paramedic licensing. The Department of Public Health reported that in 2015, there were 20,783 EMT-Basics, 619 EMT-Intermediates, and 15,490 paramedics.

Illinois requires that prospective EMTs be at least 18 before testing at the basic level. They must have education at at least the high school level; a GED is acceptable. The Department will evaluate the applicant’s background. In the case of applicants with felony conviction, a number of factors may be considered (http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/077/077005150A01900R.html).

Select an Illinois EMT Topic:

Educational Standards

Prospective EMTs should enroll in Department-approved programs. EMT programs typically take place over the course of a semester, though the actual timeframe is variable. The City of Chicago notes that programs typically require that the student be 18 at the time of admission and have college-level reading skills. Schools may require an admission test. Southwestern Illinois College, for example, notes that the COMPASS placement test is utilized.

According to state administrative code (2014 revision), Illinois programs use the National Standard Curriculum (http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/077/077005150D05000R.html). However, individual programs may note that the National EMS Education Standards are utilized.

Illinois EMT programs at the basic level include epinephrine administration for children and adults.

Examination Requirements

The prospective EMT must pass a standardized examination prior to licensure. According to Illinois Administrative Code, EMTs can be licensed on the basis of the state examination or examination by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. The minimum score on the state exam is 70%. The Department of Public Health considers the state and national examinations to be equivalent (http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/077/077005150D05300R.html). National Registry certification can make the EMT credential more portable; most states accept it as the basis for licensure.

The National Registry certification process includes a cognitive examination that is administered via computer in a standardized manner at sites throughout the nation. The prospective examinee will need to create an account. The program can authorize examination once all requirements have been met. The individual will receive an ATT through his or her online account and will be authorized to contact a Pearson VUE assessment center about scheduling.

The certification process also includes practical examination. Individual schools typically provide information about the process.

Reciprocity Requirements

Reciprocity applicants will need to document comparable training and a qualifying credential. In most cases, the licensing agency will look for a statement of good standing and compliance with continuing education from the individual’s EMS medical director. In cases where this is not possible, the applicant will need to request a waiver. In some cases, a reciprocity applicant will never have had an EMS medical director. If the individual has been licensed at least six months, however, the Department of Public Health will look for documentation of continuing education.

The reciprocity applicant will include a copy of his or her CPR certification. The licensing agency will also seek a copy of the current state license and of the National Registry card, if applicable. The reciprocity application fee is $50.

Applications are mailed to the Division of Emergency Medical Systems and Highway Safety in Springfield. An approved reciprocity candidate will receive an email; the license will be mailed.

Reciprocity applicants may call or email ‘Licensing’ with their questions.

Military Applicants

Individuals can be licensed on the basis of comparable training received in the military. They are expected to apply for examination within a year of discharge (http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/077/077005150D06300R.html). The Department of Public Health will evaluate the credentials of military medics. They are asked to submit the following: course completion certificate, training curriculum, CPR card, clinical experience documentation, and verification from the military educator.

The Application Process

The EMS system coordinator will submit documentation for in-state graduates. Students typically receive information from their programs about the application process.

There is a $45 initial licensure fee; this is separate from the examination fee. Fees are waived for some applicants, including those who work for the Illinois National Guard and those who serve as volunteers through nonprofit organizations that provide emergency care in small service areas.

Reciprocity applications and military license requests are available on the Department of Public Health website (http://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/emergency-preparedness-response/ems/licensing).

Advanced Licensing

EMT credentialing is a prerequisite for licensure at more advanced levels. The EMT will enroll in a second program. According to state code, intermediate programs will include at least 200 hours of instruction and 150 hours of clinical training (http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/077/077005150D05100R.html). Intermediate level EMTs can also be licensed on the basis of either state examination or National Registry examination.

Renewal Requirements

Licenses are typically issued for four years. An individual applying by reciprocity will be issued a license that has an expiration date coinciding with the qualifying license or certification.

EMTs do at least 60 hours of continuing education during each four-year renewal period. Emergency Medical Technicians with AEMT or EMT-I licensing do at least 80 hours. The resource hospital generally processes renewal applications for EMTs who are in active practice with an EMS provider; the medical director provides a recommendation.

EMTs who are not affiliated can submit independent renewal applications. Paperwork can be downloaded from the DPH website. The independent renewal application notes a 120-hour continuing education requirement.

Additional information

Information is available from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of EMS & Highway Safety. ‘Licensing’ can be reached by email at ‘DPH.EMTLIC at illinois.gov’. or by telephone at 217-785-2080.

Illinois has its own state professional organization, the Illinois EMS Association (http://iemta.org).