How Do You Become a Paramedic?

Sep 10, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a paramedic. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

If you are interested in becoming a paramedic, there are several steps involved in the process. Those entering the field must have a high school diploma, pass an EMT-Basic (EMT-B) program and licensing exam, gain experience by working as an EMT, and then complete an accredited EMT-Paramedic (EMT-P) program and pass the licensing exam.

Essential Information

Paramedics are the most advanced of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and perform medical procedures and treatments in emergency situations. These first responders are qualified to administer medications, perform CPR and transport victims to emergency rooms.

Required Education Completion of a paramedic training program; many conclude with the award of a certificate or associate's degree
Certification National certification available through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT); some states mandate additional state licensing or certification
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 7% for EMTs and paramedics*
Median Salary (May 2018) $34,320 for EMTs and paramedics*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step One: Graduating High School

To begin EMT training, one requires a high school diploma or GED. High school students should focus on courses involving math, physics, chemistry and biology. Being a paramedic takes strength and dexterity, so physical education classes and early fitness training may be beneficial as well.

Step Two: Entering EMT-Basic (EMT-B) Training

An EMT-B training program offers prospective paramedics basic knowledge and skills in emergency medical services. Students in this program learn to perform CPR, monitor vital signs and transport victims in an ambulance. The program combines classroom and field training. Field training allows students to work under a licensed emergency medical technician.

Step Three: Gaining EMT Experience

Many state and educational programs prefer that applicants have EMT experience before enrolling in a paramedic training program. Opportunities are available with emergency medical service teams in hospitals, fire departments and private ambulatory companies. With an EMT-B certification, technicians can monitor IVs, perform CPR, dress wounds and mobilize spines. Having experience in the emergency medical services field helps prepare applicants for paramedic training and careers.

Step Four: Completing Paramedic Training

EMT-Paramedic (EMT-P) certificate and associate's degree programs are offered at community and junior colleges. Students in EMT-P programs learn about burns, soft tissue shock, obstetrics and gynecology, endocrinology, musculoskeletal trauma, pharmacology and toxicology. Those interested in an associate's degree must also complete general education requirements on top of the paramedic training curriculum.

Step Five: Becoming Licensed

Each level of EMT is certified and licensed separately. All states require that paramedics be licensed; this usually involves passing the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certification examination. Paramedics may also have to renew their license every 2-3 years, and this may require completion of continuing education courses.

In summary, paramedics can choose to enroll in an associate's degree program at a community or junior college allowing them to receive training and certification needed. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the job growth for EMTs and paramedics is significantly higher than the job market as a whole.

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