Paramedic: Overview of Education for Paramedics

Paramedics are the highest level of emergency medical personnel. They provide advanced emergency care to patients who are being transported to hospitals. Becoming a paramedic entails formal training as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and state licensure. Read on for information about the education required to become a paramedic.

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Overview of Education Required for Paramedics

Paramedics are required to complete formal training programs offered by community colleges, technical schools, 4-year colleges and universities. These programs can last anywhere from nine months to two years, sometimes culminating in associate's degrees.

The prerequisites for admission into paramedic training programs usually include a high school diploma or its equivalent, completion of basic-level emergency medical technician (EMT-Basic) training and six months of experience as an EMT-Basic within the last year.

Curriculum

Paramedic training programs combine in-class instruction and practical training. The classroom instruction component often includes courses in anatomy and physiology, pre-hospital pharmacology and advanced life support. The practical training typically comprises an internship in a clinical, pre-hospital setting, as well as an internship in the field with a working paramedic unit.

Licensing Requirements for Paramedics

All paramedics must be licensed in accordance with their individual states' licensing requirements. While some states administer their own licensing exams, most require paramedics to be certified by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Select states allow candidates to take either a state exam or the NREMT exam to become licensed.

NREMT Certification

The NREMT certifies EMT-Paramedic/Paramedics who complete a state-approved paramedic training course after attaining national or state EMT-Basic certification (www.nremt.org). Paramedic certification candidates must also pass both cognitive and psychomotor exams. Certified paramedics generally must maintain licensure by fulfilling continuing education requirements and taking refresher classes.

Career Outlook for Paramedics

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of paramedics and other EMTs is predicted to grow 33% for the years 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov). This growth will be due to an increasing aging population and, in effect, an increasing number of emergency medical calls. The BLS reported in 2012 that EMTs and paramedics took home a median annual salary of $31,020.

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