What Training Is Needed to Be a Paramedic?

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

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Essential Information

Paramedics provide first-response care to people who are sick or injured. They are trained to provide medications, read electrocardiograms (EKGs) and use medical equipment. To qualify for paramedic training, individuals usually first need to possess a high school diploma, complete CPR training and earn EMT-Basic certification from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). They then complete a paramedic certificate or associate's degree program and seek state licensure, which involves passing the NREMT's paramedic certification test. To succeed on the job, individuals must be able to follow safety protocols, do heavy lifting and handle stress.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree in paramedic studies
Prerequisites EMT-Basic training and certification; CPR training
Other Requirements State licensure and paramedic certification
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022)*23% (all EMTs and paramedics)
Median Salary (2014)**$41,672 annually

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **PayScale.com

How to Become a Paramedic

Step 1: Earn a High School Diploma

Paramedic training programs require students to have a high school diploma or GED to enroll. High school students considering careers as paramedics should take courses in the sciences, health studies and anatomy.

Step 2: Complete CPR Training

Certified competency in cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a requirement for EMT and paramedic training programs. Paramedics must maintain CPR training throughout their careers.

Step 3: Complete EMT-Basic Training

An EMT-Basic program covers such emergency medical situations as choking, bleeding, childbirth, heart attacks and broken bones. The course also covers the use of medical equipment, including splints, stretchers, oxygen masks and backboards. Students learn in the classroom and in the field, riding in ambulances. After completing the course, students apply for certification from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) at the EMT-Basic level.

Step 4: Complete Paramedic Coursework

Offered through either a certificate or associate's degree program, paramedic coursework covers anatomy, physiology and higher-level medical techniques. Students learn to work in an ambulance or aeromedical service. Some of the more advanced medical applications include inserting an IV, handling potentially dangerous blood and establishing order in chaotic situations. Obtaining information from difficult patients and leading a team of EMTs are also discussed. Students in an associate's degree program must complete general education requirements.

Step 5: Get Certified

Upon completion of an approved program, paramedics may apply for national NREMT paramedic certification, which involves passing a test. The test includes a computerized exam covering airways and breathing, trauma and medical, pediatrics and EMS (emergency medical services) operations. A hands-on portion of the test looks at the paramedic's ability to handle real-world situations.

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