How to Become Paramedic/EMT

What To Do Now? Paramedic/EMS Career Training

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A paramedic or EMS is the front-line emergency worker who keeps the patient going until he or she can reach a hospital. If you enjoy working under pressure, helping others in physical need, and quickly assessing and treating problems, you might want to explore retraining for a career as a paramedic. Like other jobs in the medical field, this career is strong in any economy.

Improve Your Skills: Paramedic

A paramedic needs to be able to think both independently in the moment and to also follow a protocol. Good interpersonal skills, along with a solid knowledge of body systems and treatments is essential, as well as the ability to diagnose effectively from limited information. A paramedic also needs to work well as part of a team; he or she may be called upon to either drive the ambulance or treat the patient en route. The paramedic's job is also to transition the patient to other medical care as soon as is possible, communicating essential information to a doctor or other medical professional. Paramedics work in ambulances and even helicopters, and often are on the scene with a firefighter or police officer. In addition, a paramedic has to be in good physical health with enough strength to lift, bend, and perform other physical tasks to help the patient.

Career Advice on Retraining as a Paramedic

You can become a paramedic with a high school education if you enroll in an emergency medical technician course. Whether you locate classes locally or online, a paramedic training course can improve your skills to gain the knowledge and experience you need to be able to be a first medical responder. Courses range from basic to advanced and each level teaches you new treatments and procedures. If you want to help others and thrive on problem-solving under pressure, retraining for a career as a paramedic might be a direction to explore.

Career Outlook

  • Median Annual Salary: In May 2013, EMTs and Paramedics earned a median annual median salary of $34,870 with top 10% making more than $54,710.
  • Top Paying States: Washington, District of Columbia, Illinois, Alaska, Nevada.
  • States with Highest Employment: California, New York, Texas, Pennsylvania, Illinois
  • Projected employment growth, 2012-2022: 23 percent - Much faster than national average of 11 percent for all careers.
  • Paramedic certification levels: First Responder, EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate, Paramedic
  • Physical requirements: kneeling, bending, heavy lifting
  • Recommended ability: dexterity, agility, good eyesight, emotional stability
  • Typical work week length: 45-60 hours
  • Usual employers: police and fire departments, private ambulance services, hospitals
  • Requirement for formal EMT training program: high school diploma
  • Usual re-certification period: once every 2 years
  • Popular advancement for paramedics: supervisors, administrative directors, operations managers, executive directors of emergency services
  • Largest projected employer: private ambulance services
  • Number of EMTs and paramedics employed in 2012: 239,100
  • States with the highest concentration of workers: Maine, West Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware, Kentucky
  • Popular coursework (EMT-Basic): managing respiratory, trauma, and cardiac emergencies, patient assessment
  • Popular coursework (EMT-Intermediate): medications, advanced airway devices, intravenous fluids
  • Popular coursework (Paramedic): anatomy and physiology, advanced medical skills

Bureau of Labor Statistics, EMTs and Paramedics
Bureau of Labor Statistics, EMTs and Paramedics, May 2013 Wages