Should I Become an EMT-Paramedic?
Becoming an EMT-4, also known as a EMT-paramedic, means that an individual has obtained the highest level of emergency medical training available. EMT-paramedics assist patients who need medical care in emergency situations, usually before they reach a hospital. They respond to calls and perform emergency medical services to ensure safety during the patient's transportation to a hospital, if necessary.
EMT-paramedics may work 12- or even 24-hour shifts during daytime, night or weekend hours. This profession has a higher-than-average risk of injuries and illnesses, so safety procedures must be followed when treating and transporting patients. EMT-paramedics work primarily in the field, traveling from incident sites to medical care facilities. Work may be carried out in adverse weather conditions in order to collect patients and take them to receive further care.
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|Degree Level||Associate's degree or formal training|
|Degree Field||Emergency medical technology, paramedicine|
|Training||Typically 1,200 hours of training in a postsecondary program|
|Licensure and Certification||Licensure required in all states; national certification typically qualifies EMTs for licensure|
|Key Skills||Communication, problem-solving and interpersonal skills, compassion, physical stamina|
|Salary||$35,110 per year (2014 average salary for all emergency medical technicians and paramedics)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians
Step 1: Complete Basic EMT Training
Students interested in becoming paramedics may want to complete EMT-Basic and EMT-Intermediate, also referred to as EMT-1 and EMT-2, before entering a paramedic training program. To gain admission to a paramedic program, completion of one or both of these first two levels of training may be required. However, the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) only requires completion of EMT-Basic to enroll in a paramedic program. Typically lasting for less than six months, EMT-1 and EMT-2 training teach students how to use medical items, such as splints, oxygen masks and backboard immobilizers. They also learn the basics of responding to emergencies, such as heart attacks, blocked airways, bone breaks and child birth.
Step 2: Attain Formal EMT-Paramedic Training
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that students pursuing careers as paramedics must complete a paramedic-level emergency technician program, which may take up to two years. During this advanced level of EMT training, students gain significant hands-on experience in the field, practicing their skills in simulated emergency situations. About 1,200 hours are required for paramedics to complete their training, depending on the state in which they reside. Students partake in common courses such as patient assessment and preparation, airway management, EMS operations and trauma management.
Step 3: Earn Certification
All paramedics must obtain certification to perform their job duties in the field. Certification is primarily offered through the NREMT. The certification process includes passing an exam, which tests both the physical and mental capabilities of paramedic students. Students must have completed paramedic training within two years prior to taking the examination to be eligible for certification.
- Consider certification preparation. Some colleges offer certificate programs that train candidates for the NREMT certification exam. These programs review all topics covered on the exam.
Step 4: Obtain a License
Paramedics must earn and maintain licensure within the state in which they work. Completion of the NREMT certification exam usually confers licensure in many states. Typically, paramedics must complete continuing education (CE) courses every 1 to 2 years to retain eligibility. Common CE courses include airway and respiratory traumas, infant, obstetrics and child care, life support emergencies, and new medications.
- Earn an ambulance license. Separate training and licensure is required to drive an ambulance. It may be beneficial for EMT-paramedics to obtain this license to ensure that they can perform all aspects of the job.
Step 5: Consider Becoming an EMS Instructor
EMT-paramedics looking to advance in their careers may consider becoming an emergency medical services (EMS) instructor. Schools that offer instructor courses may award a non-credit certificate or allow paramedics to earn college credits for completing the course. Such courses can be completed online and may take about 3 to 4 months to complete.