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Degrees in Emergency Medical Services

A degree in emergency medical services (EMS) can train you to provide medical treatment at the scene of an accident or a medical emergency. Learn more about these degree programs, and find out how to get licensed and certified.

What Emergency Medical Services Degree Programs Are Available?

The most common degree program in this area of study is a 2-year associate's degree program in emergency medical services (EMS), which typically leads to an Associate of Science or Associate of Applied Science degree. Additionally, most associate's degree programs are designed to prepare students for Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)-Paramedic certification. There are some bachelor's degree programs in EMS available, but generally they are designed for paramedics looking to move into more supervisory positions.

Degree LevelsAssociate's and bachelor's
Common CoursesParamedic rescue practices, pathophysiology, anatomy, cardiology, pharmacology
Professional CertificationThe National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) offers certification exams for all EMT levels
Job Outlook6% increase from 2019-2029

Source: United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Some schools require applicants to be licensed EMTs to enroll in EMS associate's degree programs, while others include EMT training in their curriculum. All programs include a combination of classroom courses and hands-on training. Your clinical training might include practicing your EMS skills on actual patients, operating medical equipment, taking vital signs and administering medications.

What Courses Can I Expect?

An EMS program may teach you how to operate portable electrocardiogram (EKG) machines, deliver orders to lower-level EMTs, keep patients calm, manage airways and transport injured patients. You can expect to take courses in paramedic rescue practices, pathophysiology, anatomy, cardiology, pharmacology, airway management, rescue practices and microbiology. Your program might also cover topics such as healthcare law, ethics, medical terminology, intubation and patient assessment.

What Are the Licensing Requirements?

You'll need to be licensed in your state to work as an EMT or EMT-Paramedic. Additionally, most states will require certification through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT), which you can earn by passing an exam. The NREMT offers exams for all EMT levels, including EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate and EMT-Paramedic. Your state may require you to complete continuing education courses every 2-3 years to maintain licensure.

What Is My Job Outlook?

In 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected that jobs for EMTs and paramedics would grow much faster than the average at 6 percent between 2019 and 2029 (www.bls.gov). Employment growth will be due to an aging population and hospital overcrowding. As of May 2020, EMTs and paramedics earned a median salary of $36,650.