Ambulance Technician: Career Summary, Occupational Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Research what it takes to become an ambulance technician. Learn about the job duties, education requirements, job outlook, and salary information to find out if this is the career for you. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is an Ambulance Technician?

Ambulance technicians, also known as emergency medical technicians, provide emergency medical care during transport to the hospital. These professionals must possess an ability to think quickly under duress, as a patient's life often depends on the decisions made by the ambulance technicians. As some of the first responders to an emergency, ambulance technicians have to assess a patient's physical state and well-being and then begin a course of treatment. They then are responsible for getting patients into the emergency room and relaying what treatment they provided to the medical team there. The following table provides information for this career:

Education Required Associate's degree or accredited training program certificate
Education Field of Study EMT skills
Licensure Required by all states
Key Responsibilities Provide medical care and transportation for injured persons, perform various emergency medical procedures
Job Growth (2014-24) 24% (emergency medical technicians and paramedics)*
Median Salary (2015) $31,980 (emergency medical technicians and paramedics)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do As an Ambulance Technician?

As an ambulance technician or emergency medical technician (EMT), you have the responsibility of providing medical care and transportation to critically injured persons before they can receive treatment at a medical center. Specifically, you determine the size and nature of a patient's injuries then prioritize and provide treatment based on this diagnosis. Your treatments can include many different medical procedures, such as ventilating patients, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, closing wounds, assisting in childbirth or treating shock. Because technicians respond to a variety of medical situations, you may be responsible for multiple duties.

What Are the Educational Requirements?

To become an ambulance technician, you must generally go through an accredited training program designed to provide you with the necessary skills required to fulfill EMT duties. Most of these are offered as certificate or associate's degree programs. To enter such a program, you typically only need a high school diploma. A basic emergency medical technician training program typically involves at least nine months of preparation in patient management, life support skills, dressing and bandaging, out-of-hospital childbirth, splinting of fractures, ambulance operations and oxygen therapy.

All states require you to be licensed for work as a basic emergency technician. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians ( www.nremt.org) is the governmental body that oversees licensing. To take part in the licensing process you need to have first completed an accredited training program and have proof of competency in using CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). After fulfilling these requirements you take a knowledge and practical skills exam. The exam covers a wide range of topics such as spine alignment and fracture immobilization.

What Is the Expected Outlook For the Career?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), emergency medical technicians and paramedics (a category that includes ambulance technicians) should have good employment opportunities for the future (www.bls.gov). Employment in the field is expected to grow by about 24% over the 2014-2024 decade. Additionally, those working in privately owned and metropolitan-based ambulance services should have the best employment chances. Primarily, the employment growth of this occupation is directly tied to a growing elderly population. This aging demographic should require a higher demand for emergency medical treatment and services.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

For individuals with a particular interest in responding to emergencies, they may also wish to consider careers as firefighters, police officers, or detectives, which will require the same ability to quickly assess emergency situations and respond appropriately without panicking.

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