Paramedic Certification and Certificate Program Information

Paramedic certifications are the highest level of pre-hospital emergency care certification. These programs are offered through community colleges and sometimes also through hospitals in cooperation with a college or university.

Essential Information

Students take both lecture and clinical courses covering areas such as airway control, advanced life support and pharmacology. Programs vary in length, but generally take 8-17 months.

Applicants must hold current emergency medical technician (EMT) certification, and they may need to have work experience and to pass health, drug and background checks. To become certified, graduates must pass a national licensing exam and complete any applicable state requirements. Continuing education and re-certification is normally required.

  • Program Levels for Paramedics: Certificate programs
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent, EMT certification, work experience, ability to pass health, drug and background checks
  • Other Requirements: National and state licensure, common re-certification
  • Experiential Learning: Clinical experience
  • Program Length: 8-17 months

Certificate Programs for Paramedics

This type of program typically includes traditional classroom instruction, laboratory practice and clinical experience components. Coursework may cover:

  • Human anatomy
  • Airway control
  • Physiology
  • Managing medical emergencies
  • Trauma emergencies
  • Special needs patients

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to 2012-2022 BLS projections, employment for EMTs and paramedics is expected to grow by 23%. Two contributing factors are a greater number of emergency calls coming from an increasing elderly population, and the overcrowding of hospitals, which requires paramedics to spend more time with patients. Individuals with advanced credentials should have the most opportunities. May 2014 data from the BLS indicated that EMTs and paramedics earned an annual average salary of $35,110.

Certification and Continuing Education Information

Paramedics must be licensed in each state; however, state licensing requirements vary. The BLS reported that certification from NREMT suffices for many states, but some require paramedics to pass a state exam. To earn NREMT paramedic certification, candidates must be 18 years old, hold current basic level NREMT certification or state certification, complete an approved paramedic training program and have a current professional-level cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification.

Students can pursue their studies by taking additional courses to earn an associate degree. Additionally, some credits may transfer to other health-related bachelor's degree programs, such as health science or health care administration.

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