How to Become a Paramedic
Paramedic Careers & Degrees

A paramedic provides a range of medical services to an injured person in the event of an emergency.

Out of all of the levels of emergency medical technicians, a paramedic is the most advanced.

The first task of a paramedic is to arrive at the scene of an emergency, remove all persons form immediate danger, and treat anyone who is injured or in shock at the scene.

The second part of their role is to transport any injured persons who need further help to a hospital, and to provide treatment to keep them stable on the journey there.

If you’re interested in health, are able to stay calm in a crisis, and are good at thinking on your feet, then you may like to become a paramedic.

Being a good communicator is also important in this role, as you will need to get people to put their trust in you, as well as follow your instructions, during difficult and traumatic times.

Education Requirements to Become a Paramedic

To qualify paramedic you will need to finish your high school diploma.

Subjects in the areas of health, science, and English will all be helpful.

To become a paramedic you will need to complete a two year program at either community college or vocational school.

You will also need to be in fit physical shape, with good hearing and vision.

You will also benefit from good manual dexterity, as well as being a psychologically stable person since you will see some things that others may struggle with.

You will also need to have or to develop skills to cope with these kinds of stressful and often times tragic situations.

During your education, you will learn a range of first aid and resuscitation techniques, medical procedures, including administering medications.

In all states, you must be licensed to become a paramedic.

You will need to sit an exam, which in most places is the NREMT exam.

Paramedic Job Description

Working as a paramedic is certainly fast paced.

If you are looking for a role that is never dull, then this is right for you.

You will be sure to do things that many people never have the opportunity to, and also have the opportunity to make a positive contribution to health, as well as to your community.

The first part of the role of a paramedic is responding to calls about emergency situations like traffic accidents, fires, or assaults.

You will often be the first person to arrive at a scene, and will need to make sure that you can make it as safe as possible for anyone there.

You will then treat people for their injuries, either at the site, or if severe enough you will transport them to a hospital, administering treatment on the way.

Some of the tasks of a paramedic include:

  • Radio communication
  • Driving an emergency vehicle
  • Communication with patients, and other bystanders
  • Assessing patients conditions
  • Administering first aid
  • Administering CPR and other resuscitation techniques
  • Administering medication
  • Transporting a patient to a hospital

Paramedic Salary and Career Path

Paramedics are employed by hospitals, fire departments, and ambulance services.

There are also private health companies which hire paramedics to transport patients in non-emergency situations.

Some paramedics are hired by security companies to work at events like concerts and sports matches to provide care on site.

Employment prospects for paramedics are better than many other industries.

While growth is average, there is a high turnover in this field.

Many people only work as a paramedic for a few years, then move on to other fields in the health industry.

This is thought to be because of the stressful nature of the work, the irregular hours, and a salary that is lower than other similar jobs.

The average wage for a paramedic is around $40,000 a year.

There is little room for salary increase, without taking on a senior role as manger or administrator.

Many use a role as a paramedic to get their start, then end up working elsewhere in health.

Some examples could include:

If you are looking for a role that is challenging and fast-paced, and also want the opportunity to help people, then you may like to become a paramedic.

It’s a great chance to work within medicine and health, and can also lead to many other career opportunities later on.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$38,830
$23K
$28K
$38K
$46K
$59K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$30,240
Alaska$50,640
Arizona$38,350
Arkansas$34,660
California$43,680
Colorado$41,880
Connecticut$46,510
Delaware$43,200
District of Columbia$47,830
Florida$36,190
Georgia$34,450
Hawaii$56,610
Idaho$39,330
Illinois$43,310
Indiana$35,350
Iowa$36,720
Kansas$30,890
Kentucky$31,250
Louisiana$42,310
Maine$35,690
Maryland$50,750
Massachusetts$44,140
Michigan$33,760
Minnesota$43,620
Mississippi$32,480
Missouri$37,120
Montana$32,050
Nebraska$35,500
Nevada$37,320
New Hampshire$37,710
New Jersey$37,550
New Mexico$36,410
New York$44,920
North Carolina$38,270
North Dakota$35,150
Ohio$34,020
Oklahoma$36,170
Oregon$42,660
Pennsylvania$34,310
Rhode Island$40,820
South Carolina$34,670
South Dakota$32,620
Tennessee$38,500
Texas$37,000
Utah$35,630
Vermont$35,570
Virginia$36,040
Washington$56,140
West Virginia$29,920
Wisconsin$35,940
Wyoming$35,430
Puerto Rico$22,170

The top earning state in the field is Hawaii, where the average salary is $56,610.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

Hawaii - $56,610
Washington - $56,140
Maryland - $50,750
Alaska - $50,640
District of Columbia - $47,830
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics, OCC Code 29-2040, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat is a paramedic?

Paramedics are healthcare professionals who respond to emergencies.

There is some confusion between an emergency medical technician (EMT) and a paramedic due mostly to the fact that they work together and they are the first responders to medical emergencies.

Paramedics and EMTs differ in the procedures they are legally allowed to do to a patient and by their level of medical training.

As a paramedic, you are trained to use between 30 and 40 different types of medication and you are able to give shots and start intravenous medication.

Paramedics are trained to perform advanced emergency medical procedures and are educated in areas like physiology, cardiology, and medical procedures.

They know how to resuscitate and support patients with serious conditions like heart attacks.

Paramedics work on ambulances and with fire departments.

If you consider this job as your career you may want to take into account that paramedics have one of the highest rates of work-related injuries and illnesses of all occupations.

In order to be able to help people in emergency situations, paramedics need compassion, physical strength, communication, and interpersonal skills but also problem-solving and listening skills.

QuestionHow much does a paramedic make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for EMTs and paramedics was $34,320 in May 2018.

Salaries in this field vary based on a wide range of factors.

As a paramedic, you can earn anywhere between less than $23,000 and more than $58,000 a year.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a paramedic?

Paramedics must complete at least 1200 hours of post-secondary training.

Tuition costs vary from $3,000 to $13,000 or more, depending on the institution.

There are some additional costs for books and other study materials which can add up to $750 a year.

Before becoming a paramedic you must train and work as an EMT and this training costs between $300 and $1,000 based on the program and institution.

QuestionWhat is the demand for paramedics?

According to BLS, employment of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics is projected to grow 7 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations.

Emergency responders will continue to be needed in the future to respond to crashes, natural disasters, and health problems.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a paramedic?

Many colleges and universities that are specialized in emergency care education offer programs in paramedic training and you can finish such a program in one or two years.

If you want to become a paramedic, the first step is to become an EMT.

EMT training includes cardiopulmonary resuscitation certification and teaches you how to deal with situations such as trauma and cardiac emergencies and how to perform basic life-saving procedures.

In order to be able to perform more advanced procedures you will need to become a paramedic, which requires more hours of training.

Usually most EMTs work at least a year before beginning training to become paramedics.

So, if you want to be allowed to perform more procedures in an emergency situation, you can follow a postsecondary educational program that can be completed in one or two years and become a paramedic.

All states require EMTs and paramedics to be licensed.

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