How To Become A Paramedic
A paramedic evaluates a patient’s condition and provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and other kinds of treatment in critical situations. You help transport patients to the emergency room of the nearest healthcare facility for further medical attention. You also report your observations and the treatment you provided to the hospital’s healthcare staff after entrusting the patient in their care.
As a paramedic, you usually work together with emergency medical technicians (EMTs). However, only you can provide more advanced care to patients in emergency situations. This includes giving medications through oral and intravenous means and interpreting the results of sophisticated medical equipment such as electrocardiograms (EKGs).
To succeed as a paramedic, you should be able to maintain your composure and still be quick on your feet even in highly-charged emergency situations. You should be able to quickly assess the condition of the patient and give the appropriate treatment. You should also be compassionate and kind as you will be dealing with people in pain and in distress.
Since you will be assisting and lifting patients, you will need to be physically fit and healthy as well. It’s also important to possess keen listening and observation skills so that you know what the patient is going through and can provide the best form of relief under the circumstances.
You should also be able to communicate clearly so that you can give clear instructions to the patients as well as to other people in the emergency scene.
Why Become A Paramedic
One reason to become a paramedic is that it’s a very gratifying career. It’s an occupation that allows you to save people in life-threatening situations. Nothing is more fulfilling than knowing that your quick action gives the people you save the opportunity to reunite with their families and loved ones.
People living in the United States rely on 911 when they find themselves in an emergency and the fact that you are the first one to respond makes your work all the more meaningful. If the nobility of the job does not convince you, a paramedic career is also a fast-growing occupation that provides a lot of work opportunities in the coming years.
Paramedic Work Environment
Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that in 2012, paramedics and emergency medical technicians worked mostly in the ambulance services industry. Others were employed by the government and still others worked in hospitals.
Paid paramedics are typically found in metropolitan areas while those in rural areas, towns and cities are normally composed of volunteer paramedics. Unlike those in the bigger jurisdictions, they are not as busy and handle only a few calls a month.
Paramedics do their job in all kinds of weather. The work itself is very stressful and dangerous. In fact, they have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses compared to the national average. Hazards of the job include getting injured by psychologically unstable or disoriented patients and the possibility of getting infected with contagious diseases in the course of providing treatment.
This can be minimized by wearing protective equipment like gloves and masks and observing correct safety protocol. Paramedics and EMTs can work in shifts of 12 or 24 hours in duration but they must be ready to answer to calls whenever their services are needed.
The Occupational Employment and Wages report of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that paramedics and EMTs received a mean annual wage of $34,870. This is a bit lower than the $44,480 received by health technologists and technicians. The agency further revealed an interesting side note about this career: When viewed side by side with workers in all other occupations, EMTs had a higher percentage of workers who are union members in 2012.
Average Paramedic Salary
- Executive paramedics (Top 10%) earn $56,310 ($27.07 an hour)
- Senior paramedics (Top 25%) earn $42,710 ($20.53 an hour)
- Mid Level paramedics (Median) pay is $32,670 ($15.71 an hour)
- Junior of paramedics (Bottom 25%) earn $25,850 ($12.43 an hour)
- Entry Level of paramedics (Bottom 10%) earn $21,240 ($10.21 an hour)
Paramedic Salary By State
|Rank||State||Hourly Rate||Annual Salary|
|#2||District of Columbia||$27.84||$57,900|
Paramedic Career Outlook
From 2012 to 2022, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasted that the employment rate of EMTs and paramedics is set to grow 23 percent, a rate that is much faster than the average of all job types. Thus, from the 239,100 EMTs and paramedics hired in 2012, the number is expected to increase to 294,400 in 2022.
The demand will come from the fact that there will always be emergencies to attend to—from vehicular accidents to natural calamities and thoughtless and unexpected acts of violence. The burgeoning number of middle-aged and elderly people who will also have their share of health-related emergencies will also contribute to the need for paramedics.
High school students can prepare themselves for a career as a paramedic by taking classes in biology, physiology and anatomy. It’s also a good idea to engage in sports like swimming, soccer and even martial arts so they can become physically fit and healthy while at the same time learn important skills that will allow them to save lives as a paramedic later on.
Aspiring paramedics and EMTs must finish high school and get a cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification to be able to enroll in a postsecondary educational program in emergency medical technology. Paramedics need to get an associate degree which usually lasts for two years. They are usually required to complete an EMT level program that includes 150 hours of specialized instruction as well as an Advanced EMT level course that includes 300 hours of instruction.
These programs offered by community colleges and technical schools pave the way for an associate’s degree. In addition, paramedics and EMTs also typically enroll themselves in an 8-hour course on how to drive an ambulance.
Paramedics and EMTs also need to be licensed before they can practice their profession. Before they can obtain their license, however, they need to be certified as EMTs or paramedics by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). This certification can only be given after they have graduated from the necessary educational program and passed both the written and practical components of the national exam.
Most states license paramedics and EMTs who have been certified by the NREMT while others require applicants to pass an equivalent state exam before issuing the license.
It’s very important to keep in mind that aspiring paramedics should not get in trouble with the law. Most states do background checks of paramedics and EMTs applying for licensure and if they find a criminal entry there, they won’t issue the license.