Landing The Perfect EMT Job

By: Samuel Scheller, MBA, NRP



Now that you have gone through weeks of training, studying for the NREMT, and passing the most miserable test of your life it is time to put your newly acquired skills to work! But how do you go about getting your first EMT job and what are employers looking for?


Define Your End Goal

In Dr. Stephen Covey’s book, 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People, he says, “Begin with the end in mind.”  This is true when looking for EMT jobs; think about what kind of EMT you want to be.  EMTs are found in all sorts of healthcare settings including clinics, ambulances, and fire departments.  In addition, EMTs are found in non-healthcare settings such as casinos, water parks, and national parks.  Defining where you want to end up and starting with the end in mind will allow you to focus your time on getting the perfect EMT job.  As an interviewer I look for people who know where they want to go because I can find ways to help you achieve your goals.


Do Not Be Afraid Of Stepping Stones

Depending on what you define as your perfect EMT job, may require time and experience before getting it. For example, most people who try for the fire department on their first try do not make it.  In fact, many people test for the fire department for years before making it to an academy.  Consider looking for stepping stones before landing your perfect EMT job.  This might be working in a clinic or for a private ambulance service to gain experience.


Get In Decent Shape

I am not talking about becoming gym rat and spending every waking hour working out.  But take a few moments each day to work on physical fitness. Most people who are getting into EMS do not realize that EMS is a physically demanding job!  In addition, many agencies require some kind of physical fitness testing during the hiring process.  Focus on strength and flexibility exercises to ensure that you are ready for the physical demands of the job.  Cardiovascular health is important, however EMTs often have to work in tight spaces (ie. Ambulances, patient’s houses, etc.) and have to lift heavy things (ie. Jump bags, patients, gurneys, etc.).  A good personal trainer should be able to come up with a work out plan that will prepare you for the functions of an EMT and put you on a routine that incorporates stretching and lifting.


Applying and Interviews

Besides the NREMT test, applying and interviewing is the most stressful part of the hiring process. Before applying or going into the interview be sure to do your research about the company you are applying for. Understand the job and what the employer is looking for.  Consider doing a ride along or go by the office to learn more about the company. I have had many potential applicants come into interviews without a clue about what we do as a company.  In fact, two of the questions I ask are:

  • What do you know about Guardian Elite Medical Services? and
  • Why do you want to work here specifically?

As an interviewer, I feel these are the two most important questions because if candidates cannot answer these questions then they do not know if they are a good fit for my company. Remember what I said earlier, “begin with the end in mind.”  Unless you do the research of what is out there you will never know what you want. Also, be confident in the interview. Many people I have interviewed over the years have simply not been hired because of their lack of confidence in the themselves.  I am sure they are great people who work hard, but the way I see it as an interviewer if you cannot have a conversation about why you are a great fit for my company then how will you be able to take care of a really sick person?  If you fall apart simply talking to me, then the chances of you falling apart on scene of a real emergency are fairly great (at least in my opinion).  Remain calm during the interview and remember that you are talking to another human being. Think of the interview as having a conversation with another individual.  If you have trouble interviewing, consider performing mock interviews with other students in your class.  I have even heard of instructors offering mock interviews for their students. Take advantage of these opportunities to ensure the greatest success of getting hired.


Didn’t Get Hired, Now What?

So you did not get hired for the company you applied for.  There are many reasons why this could be.  Often times, I do not hire people because I do not feel they are a good fit for my company. For example, many people come into the interview and have prior commitments such as other jobs, school, or children and I cannot see how the interviewee will be able to make the time requirements for the job. As an interviewer it is my job to find people who will integrate well into our culture. Other times it is a numbers game. If I have 3 spots open, but 10 people apply I will have to turn someone down for a job.  Keep applying or consider applying with another agency.



In conclusion, applying and interviewing for an EMS agency is stressful. Know where you want to go, do your research about the agency you are applying for, and be confident during the interview to get the best chance of being hired.


Where I Can Apply As An EMT


About Samuel Scheller

Samuel Scheller is the Chief Executive Officer of Guardian Elite Medical Services, LLC.; a private ambulance service based in Las Vegas, NV. Samuel has interviewed over 500 EMT candidates and has mentored hundreds more on getting their perfect EMT job.