Paramedic and Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Careers

To become an emergency medical technician (EMT) or a paramedic, you will have to become highly trained in certain health sciences. It is a challenging career that is not suitable for just anyone.

Not only will you have to study hard to become qualified, but you will also have to work hard in the position, as it can be physically demanding. You will need to work very long hours and be able to deal with emergency situations with a cool head.

Use the following information to learn about the types of EMT jobs and what training and skills are necessary. Learn about the salary you can expect to receive. Being a paramedic or an emergency medical technician is one of the worthiest careers you can get involved with, but you need to consider embarking on this career carefully to know if you are able to cope well with the stresses and pressures of the job.

Emergency Medical Technicians

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are medically trained professionals who respond to emergency calls. At the scene of the emergency, they provide medical care and then transport patients to hospital. Since emergency situations can be wide ranging, EMTs need to be ready to deal with any situation that may arise.

Unlike with some other vocational careers, EMTs always work in pairs. One will administer the health care required while the other person drives the ambulance. They are also sometimes responsible for tasks like redirecting traffic away from an emergency situation, as they are usually the first people to arrive at an emergency scene.

EMTs begin work at a basic level, which involves treating basic injuries, and they can then progress to an intermediate level and beyond to paramedic level, which involves more complex medical assistance. Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) at basic level can perform tasks like:

  • Administering medication.
  • Controlling bleeding.
  • Performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
  • Performing automated external defibrillation.
  • Administering supplemental oxygen.

Emergency medical technicians at an intermediate level can perform tasks like:

  • Monitoring electrocardiograms (ECGs or EKGs).
  • Administering approximately 20 different types of medication, depending on the state laws.
  • Performing endotracheal intubations.
  • Beginning intravenous (IV) therapy.


Paramedics are the highest level of emergency medical technicians. They are medically skilled to evaluate, examine and treat patients with medical equipment and medications. Typically, paramedics work in ambulances, but the scope of a paramedic’s role has expanded into other areas of health care, such as working in hospitals, doctors’ offices, schools and colleges.

As part of the first-response team for emergency health situations, paramedics can perform procedures that save lives at the scene of an emergency and while transporting patients.

The types of medical help paramedics may need to perform include:

  • Cleaning wounds and applying sutures.
  • Giving emergency respiratory procedures.
  • Giving cardiac support for people experiencing heart attacks.
  • Administering medications.
  • Administering intravenous fluids.
  • Stabilizing head and neck injuries.
  • Resuscitating people who have drowned.
  • Bandaging wounds.

Paramedics may need to work all sorts of hours, so if you like a very set routine, a paramedic career may not suit you well. Typically, paramedics’ shifts run from eight to 48 hours, with different rotations each week.

What is the difference between EMTs and paramedics?

The greatest difference between emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics is the level of training they have had and what procedures they are allowed to perform. Paramedics are the highest level of emergency medical technicians. To become an emergency medical technician (EMT), you are required to have a high school diploma or equivalent in order to be accepted onto a training program. You will also need to have a clean criminal record, excellent eyesight, color vision and satisfactory physical fitness.

You need to earn a certificate and a license before you can work as an emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic. Although license requirements differ from state to state, all states require emergency medical technicians to be licensed. There are three levels of certification to become an emergency medical technician:

  • EMT-Basic.
  • EMT-Intermediate.
  • EMT-Paramedic.

Training programs can be completed at community colleges, universities, technical colleges and emergency medical service academies. The duration of basic and intermediate programs range from two to six months. Once you have completed the training program, you need to pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certification exam.

The programs involve being trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), administering glucose, administering oxygen, treating allergic reactions and much more. For the EMT-Paramedic program, you will receive an education in more complex matters, involving cardiology, medications, physiology, anatomy and other medical procedures. Paramedic programs last between six and 12 months.

Who is suited to EMT and paramedic jobs?

If you want to work as an emergency medical technician (EMT), you need to be calm and collected, as you will be dealing with life-or-death situations on a daily basis. You need to be able to think fast, give comfort to people in distress, have excellent manual dexterity, be non-prejudiced and non-judgmental, be alert and have mental and physical strength. You also need to be confident in what you are doing and possess excellent communication skills.

As well as having those personality traits and skills, you must be prepared to work long hours. Not only will the shifts be long, but you will also be required to work night shifts, holidays and weekends. Being an emergency medical technician really is a full-time job.

EMT and Paramedic Earning Potential

The average annual salary of an emergency medical technician (EMT) is approximately $34,817. For EMT-Basic entry-level technicians, the average annual salary is $29,789. Technicians working at an intermediate level earn an average annual salary of $34,303. Paramedics earn an annual average of $41,429. This ranges from approximately $37,200 at the bottom end of the pay scale to $47,218 at the top end.

Salaries for emergency medical technicians and paramedics are also dependent on which state you are working in. Starting with the highest salary, these are the 10 states that pay the most:

  • Nevada.
  • Washington.
  • Maryland.
  • Alaska.
  • Delaware.
  • New York.
  • Hawaii.
  • Colorado.
  • Missouri.
  • New Jersey.

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