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EMT & Paramedic

Are you looking for a fast-paced profession that involves helping others? Do you enjoy providing medical care but don't wish to work in a hospital or clinic setting? If so, perhaps a career as an emergency medical technician or paramedic would be an alternative you might be interested in.

Are Paramedic and Emergency Medical Services for Me?

The emergency medical technician (EMT) is the first to respond to a scene, such as a car accident, violent crime scene, heart attack, stroke or natural disaster, where people require immediate medical attention. As an EMT, your job is to assess, stabilize and provide ongoing care to the patient while transporting him or her to a hospital via ambulance or sometimes even helicopter. A paramedic provides advanced emergency medical services and so requires training beyond the EMT-Basic certification, which results in you earning a higher salary as a paramedic.

Emergency medicine is not for everyone. You must be both physically and emotionally fit and able to tolerate potentially frightening and dangerous situations when dealing with injured or mentally unstable individuals. It requires compassion, patience and a strong stomach. You must be prepared to address various types of medical emergencies, such as heart attacks, bleeding, fractures, airway obstruction, gunshot wounds and even childbirth.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 45% of EMTs worked for ambulance services in 2008 ( The other 55% were employed by local governments and hospitals. The BLS reported that as of May 2010, EMTs and paramedics earned a median annual wage of $30,360. Employment was anticipated to grow about as fast as the average for all occupations from 2008-2018.

How Can I Become a Paramedic or Emergency Medical Technician?

To become certified as an EMT, you must complete a training program that meets or exceeds the U.S. Department of Transportation National Standard Curriculum and become licensed by your state. All programs require a current CPR credential and successful completion of a certification exam. A condition for admission to most EMT programs is a physical exam, criminal background check and drug test.

According to the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (, there are six designations for which you may receive EMT certification. These are First Responder/EMR, EMT-Basic/EMT, EMT-Intermedidate/85, Advanced EMT EMT-Intermediate/99 and EMT-Paramedic/Paramedic. Most certificate programs take 1-2 years to complete.

During any type of EMT training program, you may anticipate spending time learning valuable skills in a hospital, operating room, classroom, laboratory and out in the field. Paramedics have the most advanced training and medical skills. They can intubate, administer medication, interpret electrocardiograms (ECGs) and perform defibrillation. Some paramedics choose to augment their certificate with an Associate of Applied Science with an emergency medical services or paramedical concentration. This helps you advance your clinical skills and generally applies to other degree programs in the health care field, such as a registered nursing (RN) degree program.

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