What Degree Do I Need to Be a Paramedic?

While a certificate is all you'll need to work as a licensed paramedic in some states, associate and bachelor's degree programs are available to students who want advanced training. Read on to learn about the emergency management coursework included in these 2- and 4-year programs. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Job Description of a Paramedic

Paramedics are emergency medical services (EMS) personnel who have received the highest level of training available in this field. As a paramedic, you'd respond to emergency calls and be responsible for caring for sick and injured patients. You'd assess your patients' conditions and administer the appropriate care en route to a hospital or other health care facility.

Important Facts About These Programs

Prerequisites Criminal background check, current EMT licensure and/or work experience commonly required
Common Courses Anatomy and physiology, patient assessment, airway management, field practicums
Continuing Education Refresher courses required to maintain paramedic licensure
Online Availability Continuing education courses offered in online and hybrid formats
Median Salary (2018) $34,320 (for EMTs and paramedics)
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% (for EMTs and paramedics)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Duties

After arriving at the scene of a medical emergency and assessing your patients, you might perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), bandage wounds, administer medications or use backboards and restraints to immobilize your patients. While transporting your patients, you'll be responsible for monitoring vital signs and continuing any necessary treatment. You'd need to document all treatment administered to the patient and report all observations to health care staff at the facility where you transfer care. Afterward, you'd disinfect and sterilize the ambulance and any equipment used.

Degree Options

While completing a degree program isn't always required, it is among the training options available to aspiring paramedics. Some schools state that earning an associate or bachelor's degree in paramedic studies or paramedic emergency medicine can prepare you for a managerial position and make you a stronger job candidate.

In addition to paramedic coursework and practical experience requirements, associate degree programs include general education courses in business, the humanities or social sciences. You may also take classes on paramedic leadership skills or be responsible for an EMS team during clinical experiences.

Similar to associate programs, paramedic bachelor's programs include general education coursework. Core courses unique to these programs include EMS research, EMS instruction methods, and EMS administration. In some cases, you can enroll in an accelerated program if you're already licensed.

Certificate Programs

You can qualify for licensure by completing a 3-semester certificate program. During the course of your training, you can learn how to manage a patient's airway and administer IV therapy. You'll also learn how to treat patients suffering from allergic reactions, broken bones, heart attacks or burns. In addition to coursework, you'll complete laboratory sessions on campus and clinical practicum experiences or internships with a hospital or fire department. You can also ride along with licensed paramedics in an ambulance.

Licensing Requirements

You'll need a license to work as a paramedic in your state of residence, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). This process typically entails completing a state-approved training program and passing the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians' written and practical certification examinations for paramedics. However, some states use an equivalent state exam.

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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