It's a fast-paced and intense career, but it's one that could let you save lives. Welcome to the world of EMTs and paramedics.

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics are the first response in the event of a crisis situation. These are the professionals who rush to the scene of an accident, respond to emergency situations and administer first aid to injured and ill people.

It's a fast-paced job that has workers performing the following tasks, among others.

Responding to 911 calls and performing CPR and other emergency medical procedures.

Transferring patients safely to emergency departments and health care facilities.

Completing reports to document any care given.

If you're interested in becoming a part of this dynamic profession, keep reading to learn more about how you can be ready to fill positions in the field as well as what salary and job prospects you can expect.

How Much do EMTs and Paramedics Make?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for EMTs and paramedics in the United States as of May 2014 was $35,110, with the lowest-paid 10 percent earning an annual wage of $20,690 and the highest-paid 10 percent earning an annual wage of $54,690.

Pay may vary by industry. Per the BLS, the top-paying industries in the United States for paramedics and EMTs as of May 2014 were:

  • State government - OES designation: $54,800 annual mean wage
  • Medical and diagnostic laboratories: $52,320 annual mean wage
  • Junior colleges: $49,620 annual mean wage

Pay may also vary by location for paramedics and EMTs. According to the BLS, the top-paying areas for EMTs and paramedics as of May 2014 were:

  • Washington: $57,850 annual mean wage
  • District of Columbia: $56,390 annual mean wage
  • Hawaii: $48,970 annual mean wage

And the top-paying metropolitan areas in the United States for paramedics and EMTs as of May 2014, according to the BLS, were:

  • Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, WA Metropolitan Division: $63,890 annual mean wage
  • Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL Metropolitan Division: $58,610 annual mean wage
  • Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA: $57,330 annual mean wage

Occupational Requirements and Job Types for EMTs and Paramedics

Every state requires EMTs and paramedics be licensed, and typically, individuals must complete a postsecondary education program before they are eligible for licensure. The level of education required may depend upon which of the following job types a person expects to pursue.

  • EMTs: Also known as emergency medical technicians, basic EMTs are trained to assess a patient's condition and manage cardiac, respiratory and traumatic emergencies.
  • Advanced EMTs: An advanced EMT may also be able to administer medicines and IV fluids.
  • Paramedics: These professionals have been trained to provide a more complex level of pre-hospital care. They may be able to operate medical equipment and interpret diagnostic tests such as EKGs.

EMT programs don't result in a degree and can usually be completed in 1-2 years. Paramedics may be required to have a two-year associate degree before they can be licensed.

In addition to the right education, EMTs and paramedics must also be physical strong and have good interpersonal, listening and problem-solving skills.

What's the Job Outlook Like for EMTs and Paramedics?

If you want to save lives and want to do it as an EMT or paramedic, then you're in luck: The field is expected to see above average growth in the coming years. According to the BLS, employment of EMTs and paramedics is expected to grow by 23 percent between 2012 and 2022, which is much faster than the average for all occupations. That comes out to 55,300 new jobs.

Emergencies will continue to create a demand for EMTs and paramedics, according to the BLS, with growth in the middle-aged and elderly population expected to lead to an increase in age-health-related emergencies. Also, an increase in the number of medical facilities will likely spur growth for EMTs and paramedics.

Some states will probably see more growth in EMT and paramedic jobs than others. According to Projections Central, the American states with the largest projected job growth of EMTs and paramedics between 2010 and 2020 are:

  • California: 3,900 projected new jobs
  • New York: 3,090 projected new jobs
  • Pennsylvania: 3,060 projected new jobs

According to Projections Central, states with the largest projected change in EMT and paramedic jobs between 2010 and 2020 are:

  • Utah: 32.6 percent projected change
  • Georgia: 30.4 percent projected change
  • Florida: 29.3 percent projected change

EMTs and paramedics save lives every day. What's more, they get to do so in a profession that is growing and personally fulfilling. What more can someone really ask for from a career?

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Article Sources

1. EMTs and Paramedics, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, accessed August 2015,
2. EMTs and Paramedics, U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, accessed August 2015,
3. Projections Central,