Paramedic Information for Aspiring Paramedics

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

Paramedics combine education and personal skills in order to treat victims of accidents and violence. Paramedic education typically involves a good amount of field experience. Additionally, paramedics must have a license or certification in order to practice.

Essential Information

A paramedic is a highly trained emergency medical technician (EMT) who is responsible for providing care to accident victims. The paramedic profession combines and builds upon the skills of an EMT-Basic and an EMT-Intermediate. An associate's degree in paramedic technology, recognized by a state department of health, may be required for this position.

Required Education Associate's degree in paramedicine or paramedic technology
Other Requirements State licensure and/or certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 24% for all EMTs and paramedics*
Median Salary (2015) $31,980 for EMTs and paramedics*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Education Requirements

While an emergency medical technician completes a course of state-sponsored training to enter the field, an aspiring paramedic typically completes an associate's degree in paramedicine or paramedic technology that is approved by a state department of health. In addition to having knowledge of emergency medicine techniques, a paramedic must have strong problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Students enrolled in an associate's degree program in paramedic technology receive instruction on physical assessment, trauma, paramedic procedures, advanced cardiology and medical emergencies. An associate's degree can be completed in two years and the final year of enrollment includes field experience courses.

These clinical courses often require a student to complete a minimum number of hours with a medical service agency that provides advanced life support. Towards the end of the hourly requirement, a student may take more of a leadership role on certain calls. These clinical experiences are conducted under the supervision of emergency medical professionals. Another clinic seminar may include instruction on how to properly use and read the information displayed by an electrocardiogram (EKG) device.

License Requirements

All graduates of a 2-year paramedic technology degree program must obtain a state license before working as a paramedic. Currently, the certification process is handled by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT), which provides a test that is split into two parts. One part tests cognitive ability, while the other tests psychomotor ability. The psychomotor exam tests seven different core areas, some of which include pediatric skills, patient assessment and cardiac management skills.

Some states administer their own exam for paramedic certification, and some of those states may allow candidates to choose between the state exam or the NREMT. Most states require that once a license is awarded, it be kept valid by the completion of a minimum number of continuing education courses.

A career as a paramedic is generally high-intensity and requires quick decision making skills built off of strong medical knowledge. Field training and appropriate degree programs prepare paramedics for what they will encounter on the job.

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