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EMT & Paramedic Degree

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What is an EMT & Paramedic?

An EMT & Paramedic degree track is a field of study emphasizing the type of health care provider offering emergency medical services.  An Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) is a clinician trained to respond to emergency and often life-threatening situations including trauma, accidents, and medical issues.  Although an EMT and Paramedic may work in an ambulance, their job duties differ from ambulance drivers and ambulance attendants.  A Paramedic and EMT professional will often be employed by a private company, government entity, fire department, and hospitals.  EMT's and Paramedic professions will typically perform a variety of important tasks that may include:

  • providing prehospital emergency medical care on-scene or in-transit
  • controlling hemorrhage
  • treating patients in shock
  • bandaging a variety of wounds
  • immobilizing painful, broken, or swollen extremities
  • assisting patients with prescription medications, injectors, and inhalers
  • providing emergency medical care to those in need
  • management of medical issues including: respiratory, diabetic, cardiac, allergic reactions, poisoning, and various psychological complications
  • Specific treatment(s) may be provided by EMT’s and Paramedics after receiving patient-specific historical data.

For additional information about the EMT and Paramedic career track, please visit our career guide to learn more.

Top EMT & Paramedic Degrees

Prospective students looking at entering the emergency response medical field have a number of options to consider.  From certificate programs through degree programs, colleges offer an array of programs to research.  In order to make the most of your time, we have compiled a summary of the most popular paramedic degree programs below.  Additionally, we have created a quick means to connect with accredited schools to learn more about each program you are interested in learning about.

Certificate Programs in EMT and Paramedics

Undergraduate certificate programs and diploma programs are focused courses designed to provide students with the essentials.  Certificate programs can last a few months to two years depending on the course requirements and your course load.  A certificate program earned from an accredited college or university will help students prepare for careers in the emergency response domain.  Popular certificate programs include:

  • Emergency Medical Technology
  • Paramedicine
  • EMT Essentials
  • Airway Management
  • Patient Assessment

Associate Degrees in EMT and Paramedics

An associate’s degrees are designed to be a 2-year program for full-time students.  Part-time students will take longer to complete the program given the pace of classes taken coupled with the school’s requirements.  Degrees in the field will be conferred as either an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) or Associate of Science (AS).  Both AAS and AS tracks fuse general education courses with core science classes.  Liberal arts classes will consist of programs such as history, communications, philosophy, psychology, statistics, and economics.

Core EMT courses will vary from school to school but will generally entail a similar set of foundational principles.  Examples of classes you will find in the AAS and AS degree programs include: CPR, First-Aid, life support basics, ECG rhythm analysis, pharmacology, advanced life support, pediatric life support, trauma management, biology, medical terminology, chemistry, disaster preparedness, and emergency response.  Degree tracks can include a general degree path or a specialized study in the following:

  • Emergency Response and Operations
  • Cardiology
  • Special Care Management
  • Emergency Pharmacology
  • Paramedicine
  • Trauma Management

Students completing the associate’s degree program will be equipped to launch a career in the emergency response field or continue their schooling.  Adjacent degrees beyond the EMT degree can include fire science, emergency management, fire operations, forensic science, public policy, firefighting, and homeland security.

Educational Requirements for an EMT

In terms of educational requirements, Emergency Medical Technician & Paramedic degree holders will have typically studied the following courses while in college:

How to Become an EMT

An EMT, Emergency Medical Technician, is a trained medical professional that provides care and treatment to patients in a variety of settings.  Lives depend on the care, knowledge, and treatments provided by these medical professionals.  As such, the process to become an EMT is a regimented and defined series of steps.  This ensures quality training, consistent procedures, and adept graduates entering the field.  The steps to become an EMT include:

  1. Being at least eighteen years of age
  2. Completing a state-approved EMT program that meets or exceeds the NEMSES standards
  3. Earn a CPR-BLS or equivalent credential in your state of residence
  4. Successfully completing the NREMT cognitive examination and state-approved psychomotor exam.

How to Become a Paramedic

In order to become a paramedic, you will need to complete a series of steps that are outlined below.  Much like the process to become an EMT, you will need to acquire knowledge via an approved program and pass a set of standardized tests.   A formalized process prepares professionals for a variety of situations and equips them with the knowledge to think through new issues that may be faced in the field.  The steps to become a paramedic include the following:

  1. Being at least eighteen years of age
  2. Obtaining a state EMT license, NREMT certification, or higher
  3. The successful completion of an accredited NRP program in the last 2 years
  4. Completion of the psychomotor competency examination
  5. Earn a CPR-BLS or equivalent credential in your state of residence
  6. Successfully completing the NREMT psychomotor and cognitive exams

Skills & Abilities Required of a Paramedic

  • Speaking
  • Instructing
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Critical Thinking
  • Active Listening
  • Writing
  • Speech Clarity
  • Oral Expression
  • Oral Comprehension
  • Speech Recognition
  • Written Comprehension

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Employment Information & EMT Specializations

For students that earn a college degree in Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) & Paramedic, there are several fields of specialization that one can pursue with additional training and/or degrees.  The options outside the EMT profession can range from medical assistants, firefighters, police, registered nurses, and detectives to name a few possible career tracks.

Top Job Titles of an EMT

Forward-looking students will benefit from understanding the vernacular in the industry.  Job descriptions, medical terminology, and job titles may vary from region to region.  As such, learning the terminology and applying knowledge from school and training to master the job.  To help you better understand the variations in the industry, a list of the top job titles for an EMT are listed below:

  • EMT
  • Intermediate EMT
  • Emergency Medical Technician, Paramedic
  • First Responder
  • Flight Paramedic
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Multi Care Tech
  • Emergency Medical Technician/Driver
  • Paramedic
  • Emergency Medical Technician/Dispatcher

Job Description of an EMT and Paramedic

A recent survey performed by the Department of Labor provided key insights into the daily activities of a paramedic and EMT.  The survey was completed by working professionals and the list has been culled into a bite-size list for you to digest.  The most popular job duties of an EMT include the following:

  • Administering CPR, First-Aid, and life support care to patients prior to arriving at a hospital or medical facility
  • Operating medical equipment (EKG, defibrillators, mask resuscitators, blood pressure monitors, etc.) in a variety of life support situations
  • Performing emergency diagnostic and treatment procedures (CPR, stomach suction, trauma management, airway management, heart monitoring, etc.) en route to a hospital
  • Documenting and observing patient health and treatment plans to attending physician
  • Analyzing scope of an injury or medical situation along with medical resources needed
  • Driving a mobile intensive care unit to a hospital or medical provider
  • Administering appropriate drugs either orally or via injection given physician instructions
  • Immobilizing a patient on a stretcher prior to transporting to a hospital or medical facility
  • Working closely with a variety of emergency medical professionals, police, fire, nurses, physicians
  • Stocking emergency vehicles and cleaning medical equipment on a daily basis
  • Communicating with hospital dispatchers or and medical providers to share information and receive proper treatment instructions
  • Providing care and comfort to patients throughout the treatment process
  • Attending approved training classes & maintaining an active certification licensure

Job Growth, Salary, and Related EMT Fields

The median annual income of an EMT is $32,670 with the top 10% earning $56,310 a year and the bottom ten percent averaging just under twenty-two thousand dollars a year.   The BLS projects an employment growth rate of 24% in the coming decade which is nearly 4 times the national average.  This growth is projected to add some 98,000 job openings during the coming reporting period providing growth opportunities for existing paramedics along with new entrants into the field.   After earning a degree in Emergency Medical Technician & Paramedic, compensation after graduation can vary depending on employer (state, government, private, hospital, ambulance service) and geographic location.

Largest Employers of EMTs and Paramedics

  • Ambulatory Health Care Specialists   119,420
  • Local Government Agencies                  67,000
  • Medical and Surgical Hospitals            43,770
  • Medical Support Services                         1,960
  • Outpatient Care Centers                           1,540

Top Paying States for an EMT

  1. Washington                   $65,320
  2. District of Columbia    $57,900
  3. Alaska                             $54,290
  4. Hawaii                            $48,680
  5. Connecticut                   $46,320

For additional information about the EMT and Paramedic industry, consider visiting the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).  The tools, resources, events, certifications, and volunteer opportunities have been found to be second to none in the industry.

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