EMT - Paramedic: Career Definition, Employment Outlook and Education Requirements

Research what it takes to become an EMT-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.

What Does an EMT Do?

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics are medical personnel who are dispatched to emergency sites, where they attend to the needs of sick or injured persons. Specific job roles and expectations depend on the level of training you receive, though basic duties will involve providing on-the-scene care, transporting patients to the nearest medical facility, and reporting vital information about patients to emergency room staff.

Learn more about the career of an EMT-Paramedic by checking out the table below:

Degree RequiredHigh school diploma and CPR certification, though many prefer a certificate or Associate of Science degree
Education Field of StudyParamedicine, Emergency Medical Services, or related field
Key ResponsibilitiesMaintain emergency care equipment
Coordinate with other emergency personnel as well as medical personnel
Perform emergency diagnostic and treatment procedures
Assess severity of illness or injury for triage purposes
Licensure/CertificationParamedic licensure or certification required in all states
Job Growth (2014-2024)24% for all EMTs and paramedics*
Mean Salary (2015)$35,430 for all EMTs and paramedics*

Source:*U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is the Career Definition of an EMT-Paramedic?

An EMT-Basic is qualified to perform basic duties such as such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), recording patient history and vital signs, and treating burns, cuts, and fractured bones. In addition, they deal with respiratory emergencies and administer treatments for those suffering from cardiac arrest and diabetic shock.

The EMT-Intermediate has received more advanced training than the EMT-Basic, and they have a variety of duties, according to the states they reside and work in. Generally, EMT-Intermediate personnel are qualified to administer fluids intravenously and to give some medicines. They may also perform an endotracheal intubation, wherein they place a tube into a patient's windpipe to keep the airway open.

EMT-Paramedics receive the most intensive training, and they provide the most advanced level of care before patients reach medical facilities. Paramedics are qualified to read electrocardiographs (EKGs) and use defibrillators, and they have access to certain equipment and medications otherwise reserved for use in hospital emergency rooms.

What Is the Employment Outlook?

The employment outlook for EMTs and paramedics was projected to be excellent between 2014 and 2024. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted a 24% increase in jobs for EMTs and paramedics during that time period (www.bls.gov), a rate much faster than average. Fast job growth was attributed to expanding numbers of elderly persons requiring emergency care. It was also believed that, due to overcrowded conditions in many hospital emergency rooms, emergency personnel would be required to spend more time with patients as they transport them to other area hospitals. Such conditions would create the need for more EMTs and paramedics.

The BLS also noted that the most promising job prospects for EMTs and paramedics would be in state government, architectural, engineering, and related services, and junior colleges. This was especially true for those with advanced certifications. The BLS stated that EMTs and paramedics who worked in state government earned mean annual salaries of $59,890 in 2015. Those who worked for medical and surgical hospitals earned approximately $36,700 annually.

What Education Requirements Will I Need to Satisfy?

If you'd like to become an EMT-Paramedic, you can study at a technical school or community college. You can obtain either a 1-year paramedic certificate or a 2-year Associate of Science in Emergency Medical Services degree. As you work toward completing EMT-Paramedic program, you'll likely be qualified to earn the EMT-Basic and EMT-Intermediate certifications.

Classes may include anatomy, medical communication, and documentation, pharmacology, crisis intervention, and medical terminology, as well as extensive clinical rotations. Degree programs will include additional subjects, such as biology, social science, psychology, algebra, computer skills, and English composition.

To become certified, depending upon your state's requirements, you'll have to pass either a state certification examination, the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) examination, or both. You must become re-certified every 2-3 years, and renewal involves taking continuing education courses and demonstrating consistent work in your chosen field.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Firefighters and police officers are some of the most relevant similar careers to EMTs and paramedics, also being first responders on the scene of a crime, accident, or disaster. Within the field of medicine, registered nurse is also a relevant occupation with similar education requirements, although some employers give preference to registered nurses with a bachelor's degree. These workers take care of patients and educate them on illnesses. They also document patients' symptoms and dispense medications.

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