Although they’re licensed, emergency medical technicians aren’t regulated as strictly as many other medical workers in New York, and training requirements aren’t nearly as stringent as they are for upper-tier health-care providers. Because of this, many EMTs earn hourly wages that are lower than those in other medical specialties. Coupled with few advancement opportunities, this leads many EMTs and paramedics to leave the field after a few years, according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Average EMT Hourly Wage
The BLS estimated in 2009 that 13,880 EMTs work in the metropolitan area of New York City, Long Island and Southern New Jersey. They work for both private ambulance services and hospitals as well as municipal fire and rescue units. The average hourly wage for emergency medical technicians in New York is $19.24 as of May 2009, according to the BLS. There’s a wide spread of wages, however, as half of all EMTs in the city earn between $14.10 and $23.63 per hour. Only the best-paid 10 percent earn more than $28.36 per hour.
FDNY EMT Pay Scale
Many of the emergency medical technicians in New York work in ambulances and rescue crews operated by the New York City Fire Department. The department doesn’t report its hourly wages, as its EMTs are paid a salary. As of 2011, the starting salary for EMTs is $27,295. After a year, EMTs earn $28,848, and continue to receive annual raises. After five years on the job, EMTs receive $39,179 annually. In addition to their base salary, EMTs receive three years of paid vacation each year, a choice of city-provided health care plans and a 401(k) plan.
An EMT must be licensed and have at least an Emergency Medical Technician – Basic certificate to work as an EMT in New York. To receive licensure, a technician must complete a state-approved EMT-B education course and pass two tests. Phase one, cognitive abilities, measures an EMT’s knowledge of medical practices and techniques in a written exam. It’s administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. A second test, the psychomotor test, is administered by the state of New York, and measures rescue skills.
Comparison to National Averages
Despite the high cost of living in New York, EMTs who work in the city don’t earn significantly more than their counterparts in other parts of the country. Nationwide, the average hourly salary for EMTs is $15.88 as of May 2009, according to the BLS. EMTs in New York earn about 121 percent of the national average wage. In contrast, EMTs in Tacoma, Washington, earn the highest average hourly wage in the nation, $34.40, as of May 2009, according to the BLS.