Medical Technicians and Paramedics


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Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs)

Medical Technicians and Paramedics

Training and Education

What’s Needed:

  • A high school diploma or GED qualification is a required prerequisite for beginning the specialized training courses needed to become a certified EMT.
  • Training courses are available for EMT-Basic EMT-Intermediate and Paramedic certification and include a wide range of hands-on experiences that cover a comprehensive range of emergency situations
  • Coursework may take up to two years and may include classroom work as well as internships and on-the-job training.

What you study:

Your classes will vary depending upon the level of certification you seek. However most EMT training programs will include some or all of the following studies:

  • Specialized driver’s training and licensing for driving an ambulance
  • Training in medical equipment and procedures used in emergency situations
  • Patient assessment
  • Trauma care and first aid training
  • Stabilization for fractures and spine injuries
  • Defibrillation techniques

You may also receive training in facilitating childbirth and infant care procedures.

What courses you’ll take

Below are examples of courses that you’ll likely take as an EMT / paramedic student.

Introduction to Emergency Medical ServicesTypes of medical emergencies including neurological toxicological (poison-related) cardiopulminary respiratory (breathing-related) circulatory (heart-related) gastroenterological (digestive system-related) and psychological emergencies; major types of injuries and traumas; basics of childbirth.Provide a broad overview of the types of emergencies that an emergency medical technician (EMT) may encounter. This overview serves as a foundation for further coursework.
CardiologyNormal and abnormal functioning of the heart; interpretation of data from an electrocardiograph machine (EKG) which tracks heart activity electronically; physical and pharmacological (drug-related) interventions for cardiac emergencies.Give background knowledge of the heart and of cardiac emergencies and interventions.
Critical Trauma CareTechniques for addressing various kinds of traumas in prehospital (in-the-field) environments; surgical techniques for opening breathing passages; chest decompression (for damaged lungs); relieving hypoperfusion (impaired blood flow through an organ); immobilization (as in cases of broken bones).Educate students on the proper immediate responses to various types of traumas.
Advanced Life SupportUsing proactive thinking to rapidly and precisely preserve patients who’ve suffered critical life-threatening traumas; extracting patients from the scene; kinetics (movement) of bodies that have suffered trauma; advanced cardiac and respiratory interventions; anesthesia and other life support technologies.Prepare students to sustain patients who’ve suffered life-threatening damage.
Emergency Pediatric CareCommon traumas in pediatric (infant and child) patients; physical pharmacological (drug-related) and psychiatric concerns specific to treating young patients in an emergency setting; resuscitating pediatric patients.Ready students to adapt their response techniques to the unique needs of young patients.

Video Overview

Shows a short introduction of what Emergency Management Technicians (EMTs) do. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.

Certifications and Licensing

Every state in the U.S. requires licensing and certification for EMTs and paramedics. To achieve certification with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians applicants must pass a standardized written examination. Some states require a separate certification examination in order to obtain a license to practice as an EMT.

Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time:

Most EMTs work full-time hours and overtime is required in most EMT and paramedic positions. Additionally shift work is the norm in most job environments.

Work location:

EMTs and paramedics perform most of their duties in emergency situations and may work at the scene of accidents in private residences or anywhere that immediate medical attention is required.

Recommended Websites

Working as an emergency medical technician can be a rewarding and exciting way to make a living. These websites can offer some added insight into the daily activities and responsibilities that go along with these fast-paced and challenging careers.

  • U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook — Consult this government-maintained site to get a general overview of the salary ranges job responsibilities and likely career paths for individuals in the paramedic and EMT fields. The site also offers detailed information on the working environment and the necessary educational qualifications for entry-level med-tech positions.
  • American Ambulance Association — The AAA was established in 1979 as the premier trade organization for ambulance companies and their staff members. Students and practicing EMTs can find information on upcoming meetings planned advocacy activities and job postings for positions within the ambulance services industry. This can provide valuable insight into possible employment opportunities and networking in this career field.
  • National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians — This is one of the largest membership organizations for EMTs. NAEMT’s website provides in-depth information for aspiring and current EMTs regarding continuing education opportunities within the industry. Students can also peruse health and safety tips for EMTs.
  • National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians — The leading certification body for EMTs and paramedics NREMT offers this website with a great deal of detailed information for students on the requirements for certification as an EMT. Since certification is usually a prerequisite for licensing this information can be very useful in planning out an appropriate course of study.
  • National Association of State EMS Officials — Currently every state in the U.S. requires that emergency services providers be licensed. The NASEMSO website provides information for any aspiring EMTs about the specific licensing requirements for their state and their planned career path. This detailed information can help anyone better prepare for these requirements throughout their studies.
  • Emergency Medical Services — Sponsored by the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration the EMS website offers students access to standardized data on the industry and can be a valuable source of information on educational opportunities for both initial studies and continuing coursework.

Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below*. Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
AKAnchorage$41190$21K – $72K1500.09%
AKFairbanksN/AN/A – N/A600.17%
ALAnniston – Oxford$27840$21K – $44K1600.36%
ALBirmingham – Hoover$23450$17K – $36K7300.15%
ALDecatur$28970$22K – $42K600.11%
ALDothan$31720$21K – $47K2700.48%
ALFlorence – Muscle Shoals$22430$16K – $32K2400.45%
ALHuntsville$31040$21K – $46K1600.08%
ALMobile$26350$17K – $38KN/AN/A
ALMontgomery$26370$19K – $37KN/AN/A