EMT License Requirements: How to Become an Emergency Medical Technician in South Carolina

South Carolina Emergency Medical Technicians are licensed in accordance with national standards. They must complete approved programs and then go through an examination process that also results in national certification through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) requires that EMTs not only earn certification but maintain it throughout their careers. Out-of-state EMTs may be granted temporary licensing while they go through the national certification process.

Select a South Carolina EMT Topic:

Educational Requirements

In order to be eligible for national certification, a candidate must complete a state-approved program. South Carolina programs are offered by vocational schools, colleges, and regional EMS training offices. They are based on the 2009 EMS standards and the National Standard Curriculum (https://www.scemsportal.org/documentsandlinks/attachment-b-emergency-medical-technician-program).

The state has set minimum entrance requirements. Prospective EMTs must be physically fit and must score satisfactorily on math and reading tests. They must be eighteen by the practical examination date. In most cases, they must be high school graduates. However, second semester high school seniors may be permitted to enroll in EMT training programs.

Programs include didactic, practical, and clinical components. They include a minimum of 200 hours of training. The student will also need to complete ten patient assessments in a hospital or field setting.

Prospective students can search online for approved courses, utilizing the Credentialing Information System (CIS). DHEC has provided instructions (http://www.scdhec.gov/Health/FHPF/EMS_TrainingProtocolsRequirements/HowtoSearchforCourses). Course announcements can also be found on the Bureau of EMS news portal (https://www.scemsportal.org/education).

The Application Process

The prospective EMT will submit a certification application before all requirements have been met.

A successful candidate will receive a pocket card, typically within two weeks of receiving National Registry certification.

The Examination Process

Prospective Emergency Medical Technicians must pass psychomotor (practical skills) tests and computerized certification exams.

The practical examination is based on current National Registry skill sheets. Candidates are directed to the National Registry website (https://www.nremt.org).

The certification examination is delivered via computer at sites around the nation. A certification candidate must create a NREMT account. The National Registry will need confirmation that the person has completed all portions of a qualifying course. Once eligibility has been confirmed (and fees paid) the candidate will be issued an ATT. The ATT authorizes self-scheduling, either at a Pearson VUE assessment center in South Carolina or one located in another state.

The examination is available on a continual basis. DHEC advises candidates to register for their NREMT examination a minimum of three to four weeks before their intended test date.

The South Carolina examination representative can be reached at 803-545-4958.

Criminal Background Check Requirements

Applicants must have state and federal criminal background checks processed through the approved agent.

The background check process is not carried out until after the candidate has gone through the examination process. DHEC has provided a fingerprint application form as well as detailed instructions (http://www.scdhec.gov/Health/FHPF/EMS_TrainingProtocolsRequirements/CriminalBackgroundChecks/).

The vendor has changed names; it is now Identogo by MorphoTrust. The applicant can register online (https://sc.ibtfingerprint.com/). Identogo can be reached at (866) 254-2366.

Background check results are typically transmitted in 48 hours.

Out-of-state applicants can have their fingerprints made on traditional FBI cards. However, they will need to send them to Morphotrust for processing (https://www.scemsportal.org/certifications/out-state-background-check-instructions).

Out-of-State EMTs

An out-of-state EMT who holds current National Registry certification may be a candidate for reciprocity. The licensing agency will need a copy of both the National Registry card and a qualifying CPR certification card. South Carolina has approved American Red Cross, American Heart Association, and American Safety & Health Institute certifications. Certification must be at the appropriate level.

Out-of-state licensees who do not hold current National Registry status may be eligible for provisional licensure in South Carolina. They will provide out-of-state verification and a copy of the state card. Generally speaking, non-NREMT out-of-state Emergency Medical Technicians are expected to have a full year of eligibility left on the qualifying license. However, those who have between six months and a year of eligibility may be considered; the decision is made on a case-by-case basis. The provisional licensee will need to achieve National Registry certification before his or her provisional license expires.

The reciprocity representative can be reached at 803-545-4269.

Licensing Levels: AEMT & Paramedic

EMT is the foundation for Advanced EMT and paramedic. Some South Carolina EMTs are recognized at the intermediate level, but South Carolina will cease to recognize this designation in 2017. Intermediates must either meet requirements at a higher level or downgrade to standard EMT status (https://www.scemsportal.org/documentsandlinks/intermediate-emt-certification-update).

DHEC has provided information about the scope of practice at different levels (http://www.scdhec.gov/Health/FHPF/EMS_TrainingProtocolsRequirements/EMTBasicSkills/). Some skills are “local option” and require training under the supervision of the medical control physician.

Advanced EMT Requirements

In order to earn AEMT certification, an EMT must complete another approved training program and go through another round of examinations. The training program will include a minimum of 248 contact hours (https://www.scemsportal.org/documentsandlinks/attachment-c-advanced-emergency-medical-technician-aemt-program). The AEMT will also need to have clinical experiences in specific state-mandated competency areas. Clinical requirements are much steeper at the AEMT level. The AEMT practical examination is administered according to standards set by the National Registry.

Renewal Requirements

South Carolina EMTs must maintain national certification as well as CPR certification; CPR certification must be through an approved provider. EMTs renew their licenses every four years.

EMTs who earned licenses in the more distant past and do not hold national certification have additional renewal options. They may renew on the basis of refresher courses, continuing education, or approved in-service training programs.

Special Purpose EMTs

Special purpose EMTs are registered nurses who have experience or training in a special area. They work only on special purpose ambulances.

Additional Information

EMT licensing information is available from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (http://www.scdhec.gov/Health/FHPF/EMS_TrainingProtocolsRequirements/).

EMS rules are found in regulation 61-7. Updates and policy changes can be found on the South Carolina Bureau of EMS news portal (https://www.scemsportal.org/).