The field emission properties of molybdenum and silicon emitter coated with tetrahedral amorphous carbon (or amorphous diamond) were studied. The tetrahedral amorphous carbon was deposited by laser ablation and showed a uniformly coated columnar structure over the entire emitter. In general, current conditioning improved stability and increased the current density. Coatings of ta-C on Mo emitters with and without nitrogen incorporated both yielded significantly higher emissivity than uncoated emitters. Nitrogen incorporation reduced the effective workfunction and the sp3/sp2 ratio. However similar depositions on Si emitters reduced the emissivity, and may be attributable to the residual oxide at the ta-C/Si interface. Annealing in a hydrogen atmosphere enhanced emissivity from both ta-C/Mo and ta-C/Si emitters. In general, thick coatings lowered the emissivity and the slope of the I-V curves. A temperature dependence of emission was observed only in the low field regions.