Paramedicine Majors: Salary and Career Facts

If you're considering a career in paramedicine - where emergency medical technicians and paramedics provide first responder care - read on to find out about degree options for paramedicine majors, job duties, training requirements and earning potential. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Paramedic?

Paramedicine as a field involves emergency medical services provided before an individual is admitted to a hospital. Paramedics or EMTs - the individuals most prominent in this field - will receive and respond to requests for medical assistance involving sick or injured people. Once a paramedic has arrived at the scene, he or she may be called upon to stabilize the individual and perform basic life-saving procedures such as CPR. Paramedics may also administer emergency pharmaceuticals or utilize life-saving ambulatory equipment. If the patient needs to be transferred to a hospital, prompt transportation will be provided. As the paramedic will frequently interact with medical professionals, emergency dispatchers and citizens in distress, a calm, clear communication style is essential.

The following table provides basic information about paramedicine as a career.

Degree Required Certificate, Associate degree, Bachelor's degree
Required Field of Study Paramedic Technology, Paramedicine
Job Duties Perform advanced life saving techniques; dispense medication; utilize defibrillators and EKG readings; provide initial diagnoses; communicate with emergency personnel
Licensure/Certification Applicants must pass a competency examination - consisting of both written questions and hands-on exercises -- following completion of any paramedic program. Many states utilize the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) test.
Job Growth (2014-2024) 24%*
Median Salary (2015) $31,980*

*Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education and Training Does a Paramedic Need?

There are three possible educational paths for an aspiring paramedic. A certificate program can be completed the fastest, typically in 1-2 years (although some programs may be shorter). An associate degree program requires completion of nine or more paramedicine courses in addition to general education requirements, which you can expect to complete in about two years. A Bachelor of Science in Paramedic Technology takes four years to complete and include courses in ethics, management and health information, in addition to general education courses such as English, science and mathematics. Outside of the classroom, you can expect to gain practical experience through internships in pre-hospital emergency care through ride-along with specified ambulance companies, or you can gain experience in hospital care during internships at hospitals and medical centers.

What Are a Paramedic's Duties?

In emergency situations, paramedics are responsible for performing advanced lifesaving techniques. These individuals dispense medications both orally and through intravenous methods, provide initial diagnoses, interpret electrocardiograms (EKGs), use defibrillators and communicate with emergency dispatchers and hospital personnel to prepare for emergency arrivals.

How Much Do Paramedics Earn?

According to, the national hourly wage range for an emergency medical technician or paramedic ranged from $12.42-$22.41 as of 2016. The same source states that an experienced paramedic earns on average $18 per hour. Location can affect a paramedic's earnings. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics states that paramedics in West Virginia earned an average of $27,790 annually in 2015, while paramedics in California earned $37,410 annually (

What is the Certification Process?

Following completion of a degree or certificate program, graduates must pass a competency examination. Requirements may vary from state to state, but many states use the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) test for certification. The test includes a practical demonstration of hands-on techniques and a written examination to demonstrate understanding of concepts learned.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Alternative career prospects may depend largely on what aspects of the field most compel you to paramedicine. If you are interested in the healthcare component of the profession, you might consider a career in nursing. With a bachelor's degree, you can become a registered nurse and help patients obtain quality, efficient medical treatment. RNs play principal roles on medical teams in environments ranging from homes to busy urban clinics.

If you want to help people in emergency circumstances that may fall outside of the medical realm, you might find a good fit in one of the other first responder careers, such as policing or firefighting. Both firefighters and policemen typically undergo training at an academy where they will eventually receive certification after completing necessary testing and prerequisites. Law enforcement officials also have the option of obtaining a bachelor's degree. These career tracks necessitate the resourcefulness, calm poise, adaptability and strong communication inherent in paramedicine.

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:

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