How to Begin a Professional Career as a Paramedic

How to Begin a Professional Career as a Paramedic
Paramedics: A Quick Look
Median Salary $31,020 per annum
Entry-level education Certificate/Diploma
On-the-job training No
Primary employers Hospitals
Number of positions (U.S.) 239,100
Job Growth (2012-2022) 23% (Faster than national average)
New positions (2012-2022) +55,300

How to Begin a Professional Career as a ParamedicWhat Does A Paramedic Do?

A paramedic is a medically trained and certified person who responds to emergency calls for medical assistance. A paramedic has a high degree of medical training and knowledge enabling them to stabilize an individual who is suffering a medical crisis until the person reaches a medical facility for further treatment.


The median salary for a paramedic is $31,020 per year.

Becoming A Paramedic

A paramedic must complete high school and have a diploma or its equivalent. They must also attend CPR training and be certified. They must attend and complete a paramedic training program and pass the national certification examination.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for paramedics is exceptionally good, with an expected 23% increase of paramedics and EMTs needed between the years 2012 and 2022. This increase is impacted by the higher number of elderly citizens who will require emergency care.

Paramedic Salary

How much do paramedics make?

The median paramedic salary is $31,020 per year. The median salary is defined as that salary at which half of the working paramedics earned less than that amount and half earned more. The average entry level salary is $20,180 per year. Most paramedics work full time with some overtime. Paramedics may expect to work on weekends and during night time hours since emergencies may occur at any time of the day or night. EMTs and paramedics often spend some time working on a volunteer basis.

How To Become A Paramedic

A person interested in becoming a paramedic must have their high school diploma or equivalent. They must attend a CPR training class and obtain CPR certification. High school students should take any anatomy or biology classes available in order to give them a working knowledge of how the human body works as part of their preparation for paramedic training. The next step is to find a formal paramedic training program: Some technical colleges have paramedic training programs, and in some states there are separate schools that offer paramedic coursework. Paramedic training will include obtaining EMT training, so the candidate may work as an EMT while obtaining their paramedic certification. Upon successful completion of the paramedic education course, they must successfully take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam. The individual must pass state and federal background checks. A paramedic must be physically fit enough to complete all of the requirements to be a paramedic. How long to become a paramedic? Paramedic programs begin with the basic EMT training, which takes approximately 5 months to complete. Paramedic training courses generally take 14 months up to 2 years to complete, based upon the particular program’s requirements. Many colleges offer the paramedic program as a two year course which grants the graduate an associate’s degree upon successful completion. If a paramedic or EMT wants to be able to drive an ambulance, they must also take a special class in operating the ambulance, which takes about 8 hours to complete.

Educational Requirements

In order to become a paramedic, the individual must have their high school diploma or its equivalent. They must obtain CPR training and certification. They must successfully complete a formalized paramedic training program. Note: The specific educational requirements required to become a paramedic may vary state-by-state.


In order to enter a paramedic training program, the individual must have valid CPR certification; this is something that must be renewed on a periodic basis. After completing paramedic training, the individual must pass the national exam through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). With this certification in hand, the paramedic may then proceed to obtain licensing in their particular state.


Every state requires paramedics to be licensed. As each state’s provisions may be different, it is advisable to check with the intended state of practice to determine the process for licensing. Some states require the individual to also successfully pass a state exam. In most cases, the paramedic seeking licensure is required to submit to background checks.

Paramedic Job Description

What is a paramedic? Paramedics are seen in the community on practically a daily basis: These heroic medical personnel are showcased on dramatic television shows, in the news, and at events such as local football games. Paramedics provide medical treatment for people who are injured or become seriously ill under emergency conditions. Paramedic intervention is sometimes necessary to literally save someone’s life. Typically a paramedic responds to an emergency call that requires them to go to the location where someone is injured or ill, and then providing them with emergency medical treatment on the scene and during transportation to a medical facility. Paramedics work under stressful conditions. Paramedics must be able to respond quickly and competently to emergency situations while dealing with families in a crisis situation. They must expect to work under all types of weather conditions, including natural and man-made disaster scenes.


  • Respond quickly to emergency calls, traveling to the scene to assess the patient’s condition and determine a course of medical care to be implemented at the scene and while transporting the patient to a medical facility if necessary.
  • Take patient history and vitals quickly and efficiently.
  • Provide emergency care such as CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), dealing with serious injuries.
  • Determine whether a patient has sustained spinal or brain injuries which necessitate moving the patient with specialized equipment such as backboards and stretchers.
  • Document the event properly.
  • Communicate with physicians and other medical personnel during and after the event.

Alternative Job Titles

Paramedics vs EMTs. Sometimes paramedics are referred to as EMTs (emergency medical technicians), although the two positions are not the same. Paramedics are EMTs who have obtained a higher level of education and training in order to be certified as paramedics.

Job Outlook

The job outlook for paramedics and similar emergency medical personnel is very good, with the expectation of a 23% increase between 2012-2022; this expected rate of increase is deemed exceptionally high in comparison to the growth rate expected in other occupations. Part of the reasons for this expectation in growth is tied in with the growth in the elderly population in the United States, which will lead to higher needs for paramedics to respond to emergency calls for heart attack issues and strokes. Another factor that comes into play is the number of vehicles on the road at any given time; with higher traffic comes more incidents of automobile collisions, resulting in a need for paramedic response teams.

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