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.