How to Become a Paramedic in 5 Steps

Research what it takes to become a paramedic. Learn about education requirements, job duties, average wages and job outlook to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Paramedics assist injured and ill patients, stabilizing and transporting them safely to a hospital for immediate medical attention. They perform life-saving procedures prior to reaching the hospital. Learn more about the career of paramedic from the table below:

Degree RequiredH.S. diploma or G.E.D. plus certificate
Associate's (2-year) degree
Education Field of StudyApplied Science in Emergency Medical Technology-Paramedic
Key responsibilitiesAdminister first-aid and emergency life-saving treatment prior to hospitalization
Maintain transportation vehicles and communications systems
Coordinate with other first responders
Perform emergency diagnosis and treatment while transporting patient to hospital
Administer medications under physician's direction
Licensure/Certification3 levels of certification required
Job Growth (2012-2022)23%*
Mean Salary (2013)$34,870*

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Paramedic?

Paramedics are trained medical personnel who respond to calls for help with injuries and illness from the community at large. As a paramedic, you'll be responsible for performing life support procedures on injured people as well treating more minor injuries. You'll be required to constantly check the vital signs of critical patients so you can give accurate information to the emergency medical teams upon arrival at a hospital. To become a paramedic, you must have a high school diploma and earn an EMT-Paramedic Certificate or an Associate of Applied Science in Emergency Medical Technology-Paramedic.

Step 1: Become an Emergency Medical Technician-Basic

In an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Basic training program, you'll take 120 to 150 hours of training and learn how to quickly respond to injured patients, assess their medical condition and provide basic first-aid medical care. As an EMT-Basic, you can work in the field to gain the minimum work experience required for entrance into an EMT-Intermediate or paramedic-training program.

Step 2: Become an EMT-Intermediate

An EMT-Intermediate program allows you to advance your skills and gain more experience in the field before completing a paramedic program. In an EMT-Intermediate program, you build on your existing skills and learn advanced techniques, such as fluid therapy and medication administration.

Step 3: Become a Paramedic

As a student in a paramedic certificate program, you'll learn about anatomy and physiology, trauma, gunshot wounds, emergency childbirth, fractures and IV injections. You'll also learn to work with complex medical equipment and monitors. If you wish to earn an associate's degree at the same time as your certificate, you can enroll in an Associate of Applied Science in Emergency Medical Care-Paramedic program.

Step 4: Earn Paramedic Certification

All states require that EMTs and paramedics obtain certification at all levels, from EMT-Basic through Paramedic. You'll either take an exam administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians or take a state administered exam, based on which state you will work in, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). As a professional paramedic, you'll have to renew your certification every two years. This requires you to continue your education even as you work full-time.

Step 5: Work as a Paramedic

Once you are ready to work professionally, you can expect stressful environments both indoors and outdoors, as well as unpredictable weather conditions. You must carry and lift heavy things, bend and kneel. You may encounter blood splatters, physically and mentally unstable patients, lacerations and severe injuries. You may work for hospitals, police departments or fire departments and an irregular work schedule is typical. You will likely need to be on call to work irregular hours due to unexpected emergencies, with a common weekly workload of 45-60 hours.

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