Certified Paramedic Career and Certification Facts

A paramedic offers emergency health care to patients and transports them to a hospital for more advanced treatment. Learn the degree and certification options along with typical job duties and responsibilities. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Paramedics are often on the front lines of medical care as first responders to various types of emergencies. This role can be incredibly challenging but also very rewarding. Pursuing a career as a paramedic requires certification and licensing and can be a stepping-stone to other health care professions.

Certification Provided through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT); state licensing also required
Career Physically and emotionally demanding and rewarding, schedule often not within regular daytime work hours, high stress environment requiring composure under pressure and the ability to work with people in distress
Salary $33,380 (annual median salary for EMTs and paramedics as of May 2017)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Paramedic?

A paramedic provides pre-hospital medical care for patients in emergency situations, usually involving sudden illness or accidents. As a paramedic, you can provide a higher level of care than emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

It is not unusual for people with other jobs to be cross-trained as paramedics or EMTs. In government settings, firefighters or police officers may also be trained in emergency medical response, and industrial companies may have some employees who are trained to respond to medical emergencies.

What Are the Certification Requirements?

The most common certification for paramedics is available through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). As the name of the organization suggests, it is also the certifying agency for EMTs. NREMT certification is earned after completing an approved training program, usually in the form of a certificate or associate's degree, and passing both written and practical components of the agency's national exam.

Even if certified, a state license is required to work as a paramedic in every state. Most states recognize NREMT-certified paramedics as qualified for their state license. You will need to provide proof of certification, complete a background check and pay an application fee. A few states have their own certification standards and procedures, but even those give some recognition to NREMT certification. For example, Illinois gives licensure applicants the choice of taking a state test or the NREMT test. In New York, applicants with NREMT certification can take the state's refresher course for certification instead of the full course.

What Is the Career Like?

A paramedic career, regardless of the work setting, is physically and emotionally demanding. The work requires:

  • Physical handling and lifting of patients
  • Performing medical procedures
  • Responding to incidents that are outdoors in all kinds of weather
  • Addressing hazardous materials or persons at crime and accident scenes

Patients who are in pain, under the influence of intoxicants or mentally unstable may resist treatment. You often have to work with people who are in a highly emotional state. As a paramedic, you will have the opportunity to save lives and see people benefit from your work. Paramedics who work for emergency response services will work irregular hours, as service is needed 24 hours a day, even on holidays. Work weeks may be more than 40 hours. Frequent exposure to blood and other body fluids, as well as seriously ill persons, carries the risk of infection.

While you will have limited advancement possibilities, this career could be a first step into a better-paying medical field. Some nursing schools offer paramedic-to-registered nurse programs that let you use your paramedic training and experience as part of your preparation for nursing.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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Popular Schools

  • Kaplan University

    Kaplan University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Kaplan University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

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  • The George Washington University

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    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master

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  • Strayer University

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    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master
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  • Colorado Technical University

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  • Northcentral University

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  • University of the Southwest

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    Popular programs at University of the Southwest:

    • Master

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  • Regent University

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    Popular programs at Regent University:

    • Doctoral
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  • Capella University

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  • American InterContinental University

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  • Brightwood College

    Brightwood College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Brightwood College:

    • Associate Programs
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    Campus Locations:

    • Maryland: Baltimore, Beltsville, Towson
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