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How Long Does It Take to Become a Paramedic?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

It can take several years to become a paramedic, because you must acquire the necessary life-saving skills for this job. While an emergency medical technician also attends several years of medical training to meet EMT requirements, a paramedic is trained to perform more advanced life-saving procedures. Paramedic is the highest position an EMT can earn.

Paramedic Job Description

Paramedics and EMTs provide emergency care for people who fall ill or meet with accidents. Among the necessary paramedic and EMT requirements are the ability to think fast to diagnose conditions and administer the proper emergency treatment. In an ambulance, the paramedic is the most highly trained professional on the team.

In addition to being a first responder for emergency situations and administering on-site medical care, paramedics and EMTs also transport patients to the hospital. If the patient is alert, a member of the emergency medical team also records the patient's basic health information and vital statistics. Once at the hospital, they fill in the emergency personnel as to the patient’s condition and share any documentation.

Paramedics have to be able to lift at least 125 pounds, so it’s important that they’re physically fit. They also must have the technical savvy needed to run equipment in an ambulance.

Paramedic Education Requirements

There are different requirements for EMT versus paramedic position. Aspiring paramedics must complete three levels of training before they earn that title. The first level, Emergency Medical Technician: Basic, is a program that can last several months. Someone earning EMT-B certification is skilled in CPR and has studied anatomy, medical terminology and basic medical trauma procedures, among other basic life-saving skills.

Next up at EMT school is the EMT: Intermediate certification. EMT-I certification is necessary for EMTs who wish to advance to a higher level or become a paramedic. To receive this certification, aspiring EMTs and paramedics must complete required coursework in anatomy, pharmacology, trauma procedures, ambulance procedures, pediatrics, drug administration and other advanced studies.

Students who complete the two certifications for EMT requirements can proceed to the paramedic level. Requirements can include working as an EMT-I for six months to a year, as well as patient assessment, cardiac emergencies and airway trauma treatment.

After completing all the necessary coursework to become a paramedic, EMTs must pass written and practical exams administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. Upon passing, paramedics receive their certification, which requires renewal every two years. It can take up to three years to complete all the necessary training to become a paramedic. Most paramedics and EMTs are employed by ambulance companies, whether private or with a healthcare network.

EMT Salary and Paramedic Salary

Because of the learning, tasks and skills involved, a paramedic salary is higher than an EMT salary. The median EMT salary is $17.64 per hour, or $36,700 per year. On the other hand, a paramedic salary is as much as $31.25 per hour, or $65,000 annually.

Industry Growth Trends

The EMT and paramedic field continues to experience growth. Because of the aging population, along with a rise in car accidents, natural disasters and violent incidents, it's predicted this industry will grow 15 percent until 2026.