Paramedic Information for Aspiring Paramedics

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a paramedic. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

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Essential Information

A paramedic is a highly trained emergency medical technician (EMT) who is responsible for providing care to accident victims. The paramedic profession combines and builds upon the skills of an EMT-Basic and an EMT-Intermediate. An associate's degree in paramedic technology, recognized by a state department of health, is required for entry-level positions.

Required Education Associate's degree in paramedicine or paramedic technology
Certification Mandatory in all states; most use the examination proctored by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT)
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 23% for EMTs and paramedics*
Median Salary (2013) $31,270 for EMTs and paramedics*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education Requirements

While an emergency medical technician completes a course of state-sponsored training to enter the field, an aspiring paramedic typically completes an associate's degree in paramedicine or paramedic technology that is approved by a state department of health. In addition to having knowledge of emergency medicine techniques, a paramedic must have strong problem-solving and decision-making skills.

Associate of Applied Science in Paramedic Technology

Students enrolled in an associate's degree program in paramedic technology receive instruction on physical assessment, trauma, paramedic procedures, advanced cardiology and medical emergencies. An associate's degree can be completed in two years and the final year of enrollment includes field experience courses.

These clinical courses often require a student to complete a minimum number of hours with a medical service agency that provides advanced life support. Towards the end of the hourly requirement, a student may take more of a leadership role on certain calls. These clinical experiences are conducted under the supervision of emergency medical professionals. Another clinic seminar may include instruction on how to properly use and read the information displayed by an electrocardiogram (EKG) device.

License Requirements

All graduates of a 2-year paramedic technology degree program must obtain a state license before working as a paramedic. Currently, the certification process is handled by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT), which provides a test that is split into two parts. One part tests cognitive ability, while the other tests psychomotor ability. The psychomotor exam tests seven different core areas, some of which include pediatric skills, patient assessment and cardiac management skills.

Some state administer their own exam for paramedic certification, and some of those states may allow candidates to choose between the state exam or the NREMT. Most states require that once a license is awarded, it be kept valid by the completion of a minimum number of continuing education courses.

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Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics