Becoming an emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic can take anywhere from one to three years, depending on a student’s choice of career and educational path. EMT training focuses on life support techniques in first-response situations, including CPR, tourniquet application, and treatment of wounds.
Paramedics deliver more advanced procedures and therefore require more extensive education and training.
This guide below reviews the basics of the profession and provides a strong focus on the educational steps needed to enter the field. Interested students can also learn about average salaries and projected job growth for this exciting field.
What does a paramedic do?
Paramedics and EMTs provide care for sick and injured people who need emergency medical treatment. This is a high-stakes position that requires professionals to act quickly and accurately, thinking on their feet as care for patients in chaotic situations.
EMTs work in a variety of capacities but are most recognized for providing immediate medical attention in emergency situations. These may include car crashes, natural disasters, in-home health failures, and accidents. In addition to providing CPR and treating a variety of external wounds, EMTs also transport patients to hospitals or other medical facilities as needed.
Many first responders begin their careers as EMTs to gain experience before pursuing additional training to become a paramedic. In addition to performing all of the same treatments and procedures as EMTs, paramedics are also trained in advanced skills such as administering IVs and providing respiratory procedures.
Paramedics tend to enjoy a higher earning potential and more professional opportunities than EMTs, though the median pay for both is $31,700. Those on the top end of the spectrum, usually composed of paramedics, make an average of $54,690 annually.
|District of Columbia||$56,390|
Paramedic/EMT Job Growth And Outlook
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for paramedics and EMTs are expected to grow by 23 percent between 2012 and 2022. This rate is significantly faster than most occupations in the nation, due in part to a steady rise in specialized medical facilities requiring paramedics to transfer patients for treatment. A growing elderly population also creates an increase in health emergencies such as strokes or heart attacks.
How To Become a Paramedic
1.Complete EMT Basic Training
EMT basic training (EMT-B) takes anywhere from six months to two years to complete, depending on the institution. These programs are offered at technical institutes and community colleges and typically include 120 to 150 hours of coursework.
While enrolled in an EMT-B course, students learn how to complete patient assessments and handle emergency situations.
A hands-on learning component also instructs students on the proper use of field equipment. Some programs require enrollees to become certified in CPR before beginning classes, while others include this training in the curriculum.
2.Pass a national or state exam to become certified
Depending on the state, EMTs and paramedics are required to pass either a state or national licensing exam after completing their training and passing a background check. Administered through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT),
the exam includes both cognitive and psychomotor sections and uses computer-adaptive technology to tailor questions based on student response.
Candidates have three opportunities to pass the exam, with a 15-day waiting period required between each attempt. If a student does not pass by the third attempt, remedial training may be required. Once successful, professionals are required to be recertified every two years.
3.Complete Advanced EMT Training (optional)
Advanced EMT training typically requires 300 hours of coursework. In addition to covering the EMT Basic topics, these programs include advanced instruction on using medication, complex airway devices, IVs, and EKGs.
4.Complete a two-year Degree Program (optional)
The educational requirements for becoming a paramedic are rigorous and typically include completing a two-year degree at a community college or technical school. Some programs require trainees to work as an EMT for six months before applying.
Coursework typically covers anatomy and physiology, as well as advanced life support, which is practiced through clinical training in hospitals and ambulances.
What Paramedic/EMT Training Is Available?
An EMT diploma or certificate is the starting point of education for those who aspire to enter the field. If they wish to build their knowledge and skills further, paramedics and EMTs may decide to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree.
Diploma or Certificate
The emergency medical technician certificate program equips students with the foundational skills needed to provide emergency medical care to patients en route to a hospital. Students learn basic life support procedures to help patients in various emergency situations,
including those who are suffering from illness, have been the victim of violence, or have gotten into an accident. In order to deliver this critical care, students in paramedic schools are taught skills such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to open a patient’s airway.
After earning an EMT certification, many students enroll in a paramedic associate degree program to advance their careers. Paramedics have more patient care responsibilities than EMTs, so the training received at this level is more comprehensive and advanced than a certificate.
Building on students’ previous experience, this degree provides instruction on advanced emergency care techniques, including cardiac care, patient stabilization, and airway treatments. To help students deepen their understanding of emergency medical care, associate degree programs commonly offer the following courses;
Paramedics who wish to advance their careers may elect to enroll in a four-year bachelor’s degree program. Bachelor’s degree graduates often procure jobs as healthcare administrators,
paramedic training managers, or clinical supervisors. Some students use this degree as a springboard to go even further in their education, enrolling in physician assistant programs or medical school. Students can expect to gain a number of valuable skills throughout their degree,
Online Paramedic/EMT Training
Online paramedic schools are a convenient option for students who want to receive EMT training that can easily fit into their schedules. These programs allow students to combine online classes with in-person training, providing both theoretical and hands-on education.
This is an attractive choice for many, but to get the most out of their education, students must find a school matched to their unique needs. Some characteristics to look for when choosing a school include: