Paramedic Qualifications - What IT Takes to Be a Paramedic

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

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Paramedics are advanced emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who perform medical procedures and treatments in emergency situations. Those entering the field must have a high school diploma, display high levels of physical fitness, pass the EMT-Basic (EMT-B) and EMT-Intermediate (EMT-I) programs and licensing exams, gain experience by working as an EMT, and then complete an accredited EMT-Paramedic (EMT-P) program and pass the licensing exam.

Essential Information

A paramedic is a first responder for many medical emergencies, automobile accidents and natural disasters. Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics treat patients with emergency medical care. Paramedics must meet a variety of physical fitness and educational requirements in order to become licensed. Admission into some paramedic programs requires applicants to be certified at the EMT-Basic level.

Required Education Paramedic training program; some programs lead to certificates or associate's degrees
Licensing Licensure required in all states; most states utilize the exams proctored by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT)
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) 24% for EMTs and paramedics*
Median Salary (2015) $31,980 for EMTs and paramedics*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Qualifications for Becoming a Paramedic

Prerequisites for Paramedics

All aspiring paramedics should earn a high school diploma or equivalent, which is a prerequisite for obtaining paramedic training. High school students who are interested in becoming paramedics can prepare by enrolling in classes such as science, health and biology. Prospective paramedics should also be able to display physical strength and a capability of performing job duties in challenging situations.

EMT Training

Before beginning an EMT-Paramedic program, students must first complete EMT-Basic and EMT-Intermediate training. The basic program focuses on the core subjects of emergency medical training and combines hands-on field training in emergency rooms or ambulances with classroom lectures. Coursework can include respiratory and cardiac emergencies, patient assessment and trauma response

The intermediate program typically requires clinical experience hours, which can vary depending on state requirements. With training that continues on EMT-Basic program principles, students take coursework on how to administer medications, utilize intravenous fluids and control airway devices

Paramedic Training

Once students reach this final level of EMT training, they will study advanced medical theory as well as principles of physiology and anatomy. Paramedic training is available through certificate and associate's degree programs.

Paramedic certificate programs generally take one year to complete, and programs are designed for students who only want certification as an EMT-Paramedic. These programs do not generally require any prerequisites and do not include any basic skills courses.

Associate's degree programs like the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Paramedic or AAS EMT Paramedic can take two years to complete. Paramedic coursework in the certificate or associate's degree programs can cover areas such as trauma scenarios and management, clinical decision-making, advanced medical procedures and considerations, medical terminology and EMT rescue.

Complete Licensure

All paramedics are required to be licensed, which includes meeting requirements like EMT-Basic certification, completing an EMT-Paramedic course and having CPR training. In addition to educational requirements, paramedics must display a high level of physical fitness, which will be tested during examinations.

Paramedics must either pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) test or a state exam in order to become licensed by the state in which they work ( The NREMT test covers areas that prospective paramedics have covered through their EMT training and will use as paramedics, such as trauma patient assessment, psychomotor skills and cardiac management.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted in 2014 that jobs for EMTs and paramedics are expected to grow at the rapid rate of 24% from 2014-2024 ( The median annual salary for these workers was $31,980, as of May 2015. This figure does include all levels of EMT, including paramedic; as such, more experienced and skilled workers may see higher salaries. The top 10% of workers earned $55,110 or more annually, per the May 2015 BLS data.

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 to be licensed as well as an associate's degree. 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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