Requirements to Be a Paramedic: Career Roadmap

A paramedic is a first responder in medical emergencies, automobile accidents and other emergency situations. Paramedics are required to be state-certified and they often work in specialized areas. Formal education generally takes two years to complete.

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Educational Requirements to be a Paramedic

Step 1: Meet Requirements for Emergency Medical Technician Training

A person interested in EMT training must have a high school diploma or GED and be at least 18 years of age. Applicants must pass a physical examination and undergo a screening for tuberculosis and hepatitis B. States often require a background check for criminal activity.

Step 2: EMT-Basic Training

EMT-B training is a prerequisite for paramedic certification. EMT training can be earned at many 2-year and community colleges. EMT courses are developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Coursework in EMT-B covers cardiac emergencies, airway management, trauma and patient assessment. EMT-B technicians have the ability to assess trauma, manage airways of choking victims and provide advanced first aid.

Step 3: EMT Intermediate Training

EMT Intermediate training builds on skills learned in the EMT-B training program. Requirements for EMTs at the intermediate level vary from state to state. Nationally defined intermediate levels are EMT-Intermediate 1985 and EMT-Intermediate 1999, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Depending on scope of practice, training can take 30-350 hours to complete. An EMT-Intermediate has the training to administer intravenous fluids, analyze heart rhythms and administer appropriate medications.

Step 4: Paramedic Training

Training in an EMT-Paramedic program covers advanced medical skills, anatomy and physiology. The program usually takes 1-2 years to complete. Students participate in clinical rotations and ambulance runs. A paramedic has the ability to perform all the duties of the lower EMT levels. In addition he or she can read EKGs, use a wide range of sophisticated equipment and perform endotracheal intubations.

Step 5: Become Certified

Certification for a paramedic is earned by successful completion of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certification exam. Some states also offer certification exams for paramedics. Most states require licensure to be renewed every 2-3 years. Continuing education and refresher courses are often required by individual states.

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