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How Long Does IT Take to Become a Paramedic?

Aspiring paramedics start out as emergency medical technicians (EMTs) before advancing to the paramedic level through licensure, study and training. Paramedics are trained and licensed to provide high level emergency care and transport patients to hospitals.

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Training Levels to Become a Paramedic

There are three main levels of training students need to complete in order to become a paramedic. The time that each level takes involves factors such as the dedication of the student, schedule and completing licensing examinations.

Training Level 1: Emergency Medical Technician - Basic (EMT-B)

After earning a high school diploma or equivalent, students interested in becoming a paramedic can seek training to become an EMT-B. An EMT-B program can be completed in as few as three weeks or last several months, depending on the course schedules. Students need a valid CPR certification before they are trained in EMT fundamental life-saving skills. EMT-B certification is necessary to become a paramedic.

Training Level 2: Emergency Medical Technician - Intermediate

At this level, students are educated in trauma management skills. They learn how to administer intravenous fluids, use advanced airway devices, and deal with various clinical and medical emergencies. EMT-Intermediate programs generally require anywhere from 30 to 350 training hours, based on state requirements. Once certified as an EMT-Intermediate, students have the opportunity to train to become paramedics.

Training Level 3: Paramedic

Paramedics receive the most training of all emergency medical responders. As a result, students may receive an associate degree in emergency medical services from a community college or technical school. Students may also complete a paramedic certificate program; however, it will not include general education requirements or offer an opportunity to transfer into a bachelor's degree program.

In order to be eligible for entry into any paramedic program, students must be certified as an EMT-B. Some institutions may require students to have six months to 1-year experience working as a EMT-B. Students are required to take courses in:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Patient assessment
  • Airway management
  • Medical and cardiac emergencies

Licensing Examinations

After students complete EMT training and obtain the necessary emergency skills, they must pass a certification exam. These exams are administered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Students must successfully complete a written and practical exam in order to be certified at each level. To remain certified, paramedics must recertify every two years.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), paramedics and EMTs are projected to experience 23% growth in employment from 2012 to 2022, due in large part to to growth in the middle-aged and elderly population that will necessitate care for events such as heart attacks or strokes. The BLS states that paramedics and EMTs earn a median income of $31,020 per year, with the top ten percent bringing in more than $50,000 and the bottom ten percent earning less than $20,000 (www.bls.gov).

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