What Schooling Do I Need to Become a Paramedic?

Paramedics are required to go through a 3-part series of training before reaching paramedic status. These three levels include Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)-Basic, EMT-Intermediate, and Paramedic training. Paramedics must also pass a 2-part certification exam that covers topics such as breathing, medication, emergency medical services operations and cardiac management.

EMT Basic Program

Paramedics are emergency medical technicians (EMTs) that must go through a series of training levels before becoming certified. The first level, known as EMT-Basic, highlights training in trauma, respiratory management, patient assessment and cardiac emergencies. Courses typically deal with topics such as fractures, bleeding, cardiac arrest and airway obstruction.

EMT-Basic students often spend time training in ambulances or hospital emergency departments. In order to become certified, EMT-Basic students must pass a test administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) or by the state in which they reside.

EMT Advanced Program

The second level of EMT training, known as an Advanced EMT program, includes topics in intravenous fluids, medication and airway devices. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this level requires students to complete roughly 400 hours of training. EMT Basic certification is often a requirement for entrance into an EMT Advanced program.

Paramedic Program

The third and final level of training prepares graduates to become paramedics. Coursework at this level often focuses on advanced topics in emergency medical technology. Training typically takes place at technical or community colleges. Students often earn an associate's degree in emergency medical technology, but paramedic certificate programs also exist.

The paramedic program prepares students to take the certification exam administered by the state or by the NREMT. Licensure or certification for paramedics is a requirement in the United States, although criteria vary by state.

Paramedic Certification Process

The certification or license process for paramedics consists of two examinations: the cognitive exam and the psychomotor exam. The cognitive exam covers topics such as breathing, pediatrics, trauma, obstetrics and emergency medical services operations. The psychomotor exam covers topics such as ventilators, medication, cardiac management and trauma assessment. These topics are presented in a scenario format, and students must demonstrate their level of competency on each subject.

Candidates seeking certification must be at least 18 years old and certified at the EMT-Basic level at minimum. They must also possess a valid CPR-BLS credential for Healthcare Providers, according to the NREMT.

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