Wilderness Paramedic: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for wilderness paramedics. Get the facts about education requirements, job duties, salary, and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Fire & Emergency Services degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Wilderness Paramedic?

As a wilderness paramedic, you are among the first responders on the scene of emergencies that take place in remote and possibly dangerous locales. Your primary duty is to assess the emergency situation and deliver care accordingly. Depending on the patient's needs, this can include performing CPR, bandaging a wound or transporting them immediately to a hospital or clinic. After a rescue, wilderness paramedics document the nature of the emergency and the services they provided.

The table below outlines the general requirements for becoming a wilderness paramedic.

Degree RequiredHigh school diploma or the equivalent, but an associate's degree may be required for certain positions
Licensure State license may be required
Certification EMT certification including CPR, WEMT certification through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT), WMI's Wilderness EMT Certification
Key ResponsibilitiesResponds first to emergencies, assesses the situation on site, delivers care
Job Growth (2014-2024)24% for EMTs and paramedics*
Average Salary (May 2015)$35,430 for EMTs and paramedics*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as a Wilderness Paramedic?

As a wilderness paramedic, you may encounter situations similar to your counterparts working in more populated areas, but you will have the additional task of dealing with emergencies that typically exist only in rural areas, such as snake bites, animal attacks or harsh weather conditions.

What Basic Training Do I Need?

If you want to work as a wilderness paramedic, you must first be certified as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Emergency Medical Services (EMS) training programs typically take one to two years to complete. They are offered at community colleges and similar institutions, and typically combine work in the classroom as well as clinical experience. They may result in a certificate or an associate's degree. After successful completion of a paramedic program, you should be eligible to take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) examination to become a certified paramedic (www.nremt.org).

What Wilderness Training Do I Need?

Some EMS training programs offer classes in wilderness medicine, so enrolling in these while training to become a paramedic could be a good start. Other schools offer specific Wilderness EMT (WEMT) programs that typically take several months to complete, and can result in both the basic EMT certification from the NREMT and/or the additional WEMT designation. The WEMT programs are often intensive classes in wilderness areas that focus on hands-on training in order to train you for the variety of scenarios you could encounter.

What Salary Can I Expect to Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that as of May 2015, emergency medical technicians and paramedics made an average yearly salary of $35,430 (www.bls.gov). PayScale.com reported in January 2017 that, in the 10th-90th percentile range, paramedics with 0-5 years experience made $29,290-$57,660.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of working as a wilderness paramedic, you could get a job as a paramedic in an urban area. In this position, you would respond to emergencies at locations such as homes, businesses and public settings, usually as part of an ambulance crew. Like wilderness paramedics, you would need to complete a paramedic training program for this job. You could also consider a different job in the healthcare field, such as medical assistant. Medical assistants divide their time between performing administrative tasks and helping with basic patient care, such as taking vital signs. For this job, you would need to complete a postsecondary certificate program.

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