Emergency Room Career and Salary Facts

Find out about the types of jobs you could pursue in an emergency room setting. Read on to learn more about career options along with education, licensing and salary information. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Career in the Emergency Room Entail?

There are a number of career options available if you want to work in the fast-paced, high-stakes environment of an emergency room. Most options require some kind of advanced education, from a technical degree to an MD, and may involve state licensing or certification of some kind. Doctors need to complete years of education and residency positions before being able to treat patients, while nurses need to complete a bachelor's or associate's degree. An emergency medical technician, or EMT, needs to have completed the relevant training and passed the EMT training program. Nurses aid the doctors in their care and provide a personal care service to patients, while EMTs are responsible for responding to emergency situations and transporting the patient safely from the site of their injury to the closest medical center.

The table below offers more information about education, training and job growth for these three fields within medicine.

Doctor Nurse Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)
Degree Required MD Bachelor's or associate's degree High school diploma or equivalent
Training Required Internship and residency after medical school On-the-job, practical training Pass EMT training program
Licensure/Certification Certification available from the American Board of Emergency Medicine Licensing available through National Council Licensure Examination and state nursing boards State and/or national licensing required
Key Responsibilities Diagnose and treat patients; assess patient illness or injury to determine the severity of the condition; prescribe medications; administer other treatments such as stitching wounds, setting bones or performing surgery Provide basic medical care, such as checking blood pressure; comfort patients and family members; take orders from doctors; maintain medical records; follow confidentiality laws Transport patients to medical facilities; perform emergency medical treatments such as CPR; assess a patient's condition and decide on treatment; communicate medical details to doctors and other medical professionals
Job Growth (2014-2024) 14%* (for all physicians and surgeons) 16%* (for Licensed Practical Nurses) 24%*
Average Salary (2014) $197,700* (for all physicians and surgeons) $44,030* (for Licensed Practical Nurses) $35,430*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are The Different Types of Emergency Room Careers?

Emergency room occupations comprise three main groups: doctors, nurses and technicians. As an emergency room physician, you'll care for patients who need immediate or urgent medical care as a result of an injury or illness. You'll examine and diagnose patients to determine the appropriate treatment.

As an emergency room nurse, you may conduct the initial assessment of patients and assist doctors with continued care during the patient's stay in the emergency room. As an emergency medical technician (EMT), you'll provide essential health care during patient transport to the emergency room and update the emergency room staff on the patient's condition.

How Do I Become an Emergency Room Physician?

You must become a medical doctor to work in an emergency room. You'll need to earn a bachelor's degree in a pre-medicine field and then earn a medical doctor's degree, which involves at least six or seven years of medical school education and training. Once you've completed medical school, you'll need to complete a residency program in emergency medicine.

Internship and residency programs for physicians tend to last two to six years. You'll receive general medical training and may pursue specialized training in emergency medicine and trauma care. Other emergency room training may include ultrasounds, pediatric care, toxicology and emergency room base station operation. Once you've completed your residency, you may seek certification from the American Board of Emergency Medicine and work as an emergency room doctor.

What Training Do I Need to Become an Emergency Room Nurse?

You'll need to obtain a bachelor's or associate's degree in nursing or a nursing diploma from an approved program and then pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to obtain your nursing license. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing licensing eligibility requirements vary by state (www.bls.gov).

You may then seek employment in an emergency room setting. According to the Emergency Nurses Association in December 2011, many emergency rooms hire new nursing school graduates and train them internally due to the shortage of nurses (www.ena.org). Also, many medical facilities provide orientation programs for new hires to ensure a smooth transition into an emergency room setting.

How Do I Become an Emergency Medical Technician?

Generally, a high school diploma is needed for admission into an emergency medical technician program. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians noted that most state hospitals offer training programs that may last several months (www.nremt.org). These programs are also available at community colleges.

Once you've completed an accredited EMT program, you'll need to pass your state's licensing exam or the National Registry Exam. These exams vary by level of EMT training: basic, intermediate and paramedic. Training topics for the basic EMT program include emergency care, CPR, ambulance transportation, oxygen therapy and defibrillation.

The intermediate level of EMT response training requires additional on-the-job training. This allows you to administer a limited amount of medication to patients, monitor cardiac activity and perform intubation. If you want to become a paramedic, you'll need an associate's degree as an emergency medical technician. This will allow you to perform minor procedures in addition to all of the skills necessary for basic and intermediate licensing.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you want to work in care services without a degree, one option is to become a home health aide. These workers provide patients with support at their homes in order to deal with the day-to-day symptom of chronic health conditions and long-term injuries. You could also become a surgical technologist, also known as operating room technicians, responsible for assisting in surgical operations and preparing the room for surgery. Surgical technologists need to be educated to the associate's degree level in order to find work. Alternatively, you may want to look into becoming a nurse midwife, assisting people giving birth and providing neonatal care to newborn babies. Nurse midwives need to have earned a master's degree in order to provide care to patients.

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:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »