Difference Between Paramedic & EMT

EMTs and paramedics share a lot of common duties in their career and work in similar environments, but there are some key differences between EMTs and paramedics that are explored further here.

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Comparing an EMT to Paramedic

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics work in similar career fields, but paramedics are required to complete additional training. They perform some medical tasks that EMTs are not trained to do, such as inserting an IV into a patient, and due to their higher training level they typically earn more money than EMTs. However, people who work in these careers need to be able to handle high stress situations in a calm and focused manner.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2017) ** Job Outlook* (2014-2024)
EMT Postsecondary Program; License $29,485 24% (for EMTs and Paramedics)
Paramedic Postsecondary Program or Associate's Degree; License $45,004 24% (for EMTs and Paramedics)

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **PayScale

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Responsibilities of an EMT vs Paramedic

EMTs and paramedics often work together, and many work in ambulances. Professionals in both of these fields can work at any time of the day or night and may also work weekends and holidays. Their primary task is the same, since EMTs and paramedics are both involved in providing medical care to people who are experiencing a medical emergency. Since paramedics are required to have more extensive training they are qualified to perform a wider range of medical services than EMTs are.

EMT

EMTs provide medical care to people in emergency situations. For example, they may respond to the scene of a car accident and help stabilize a patient and transport them to the hospital. With a high school diploma, individuals can pursue postsecondary training programs to become an EMT. Basic training programs can usually be completed in 150 hours, while advanced EMT programs cover approximately 400 hours of training. All EMTs need to be trained in CPR as well.

Job responsibilities of an EMT include:

  • Drive an ambulance
  • Acknowledge calls they've been ordered to respond to
  • Report the patient's condition and expected arrival time to hospital staff
  • Assess the patient
  • Provide medical treatment to a patient while in transit
  • Maintain patient records

Paramedic

Paramedics respond to medical emergencies and provide medical care to people. Their duties can involve stabilizing a patient's condition so that they can be safely transported to a hospital for medical care. For example, if a patient has a deep cut they may bandage them and elevate the injured part of the patient's body to stop the bleeding. Paramedics are required to complete the training for basic and advanced EMTs and then complete additional studies. It's common for them to spend up to two years studying, and they may also earn an associate's degree in their field before beginning their career.

Job responsibilities of a paramedic include:

  • Determine the nature of a patient's condition
  • Prioritize medical care at the scene of an accident to ensure the most severely injured patients are treated first
  • Prepare patients to be transported
  • Monitor the patient's condition while in transit
  • Administer medication through an IV
  • Keep records of the patients treated and the type of care they received

Related Careers

Like EMTs, firemen are also required to have EMT training, respond to emergencies and provide emergency medical care to patients, so aspiring EMTs may also be interested in this career option. Aspiring paramedics may also be interested in a career in nursing, since that career also involves providing medical care to patients but in a consistent capacity.

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