Paramedic training programs can be found at many postsecondary institutions. These programs prepare aspiring paramedics for the certification exam that is required to begin work as a paramedic. Paramedics must first be licensed Emergency Medical Technicians in order to sit for the paramedic exam.
Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedic (EMT-P) is the highest emergency medical service personnel designation offered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Aspiring paramedics with a high school diploma can begin the emergency medical technician (EMT) and paramedic training programs required for licensure.
|Required Education||Completion of an approved EMT-Paramedic training program, which may result in a certificate or associate's degree|
|Certification||National NREMT certification; some states have additional certification and/or licensing requirements|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||24% for all EMTs and paramedics*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$31,980 for all EMTs and paramedics*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
License Requirements for Paramedics
Paramedics in all 50 states must pass the NREMT paramedic exam or a state certification exam to become licensed. NREMT exam prerequisites include the completion of a formal paramedic training program and EMT - Basic certification. Additional state licensing requirements may include a criminal background check, proof of immunizations and health checks and continuing education credits.
Most paramedic programs culminate in a certificate or associate's degree and include classroom instruction as well as practical skills training. Because only licensed EMTs can sit for the NREMT paramedic exam, some programs only accept applicants with EMT certification. Others require applicants to complete prerequisite EMT coursework or incorporate EMT training into the early part of a degree program. Training is available at different levels, including EMT-Basic level and the EMT-Intermediate 1985/1999 level.
Course topics include advanced patient assessment, advanced resuscitation, ventilation management, cardiac management and intravenous therapy methods and techniques. Students are also taught how to use dual lumen airway devices and automated external defibrillators (AEDs) for respiratory and cardiac emergencies.
Paramedic education programs also include instruction in pediatric life saving skills, including ventilation, CPR and intraosseous infusion for infants (injection into a bone). Other skills learned in a paramedic training program include spinal immobilization techniques, bleeding control and shock management. The mannequins used in most EMT and paramedic training programs now simulate real victims.
NREMT Exam Information
The NREMT paramedic licensing examination consists of a written test and a practical exam. The written portion addresses topics studied during the paramedic's formal training program. The practical skills exam is intended to test students' skills in the field. Candidates perform medical procedures in mock emergency situations in seven areas, including patient assessment, cardiac management and IV administration. Candidates may take the test up to six times, with varying waiting periods between each retest. Paramedics must renew their license every two years.
Paramedics first start their training as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). After becoming a certified EMT, paramedic candidates can then continue on to a paramedic program. These programs prepare them for the paramedic licensing exam, which is required for certification and work eligibility.