|Number of Jobs:||75,400|
|This Job is Ranked in|
|Best Healthcare Jobs||#22|
|The 100 Best Jobs||#54|
Car accidents. Medical emergencies. House fires. No matter the circumstances, when an emergency strikes, lives are on the line. Emergency medical technicians and paramedics are often the first to the scene and the last line of defense against tragedy. The pressure might be too daunting for most, but the reality is that people's lives depend on the speedy, competent care that EMTs and paramedics provide. Responding to incidents like car accidents, gunshot wounds, and heart attacks, EMTs and paramedics care for the sick and wounded while quickly transporting them to a nearby medical facility. EMTs and paramedics often work side by side with police officers and firefighters to provide the best all-around care in emergency situations. They operate in teams, with one person driving while the other continues to provide emergency care to the patient. There are three general designations, each with its own training requirements and responsibilities: EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate, and Paramedic. EMT-Basic and EMT-Intermediate are both expected to provide on-scene care and transport the patient to a medical facility, with the latter taking on more responsibilities. Paramedics are trained to provide additional pre-hospital care, including administering medications, interpreting EKGs, and operating complex equipment.
An increasing call volume due to the country's aging population is expected to keep job prospects high for EMTs and paramedics. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects EMT and paramedic employment growth of 33.3 percent between 2010 and 2020, adding 75,400 more professionals to the 229,340 jobs currently in this field. The profession's strong expected growth helped it earn the No. 54 spot in our ranking of The Best Jobs of 2013.
The BLS reports the median annual wage for EMTs and paramedics was $30,710 in 2011. The best-paid 10 percent in the profession made approximately $53,050, while the lowest-earning 10 percent made approximately $19,880. The highest-paid in the profession work in the metropolitan areas of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Tacoma, Wash., and Anchorage, Alaska.
At a minimum, a high school diploma is required to enter most formal emergency medical technician training programs. Training varies depending on the professional level desired. For EMT-Basic, training covers key emergency skills like general patient assessment and handling patients suffering from cardiac arrest, trauma, or respiratory emergencies. Classroom coursework is coupled with hands-on experience in an ambulance or emergency facility. Students become acquainted with basic equipment such as backboards, oxygen delivery systems, and stretchers. At the EMT-Intermediate level, students learn all the material covered in the EMT-Basic program, with additional skills such as handling intravenous fluids and using airway devices. State education levels vary, but the national standards require students to complete 30 to 350 hours of classroom and hands-on training depending on the program. Paramedics receive expanded training, with more emphasis on areas such as anatomy, physiology, and advanced medical skills. Paramedic programs typically take one to two years to complete, and often result in an associate’s degree. Passing the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians examination is required to become a certified paramedic.
In this economy, many unemployed workers are considering becoming an EMT because of the relatively attainable training requirements. But there is still a nationwide shortage of EMTs and paramedics. Scott Matin, a longtime paramedic and a member of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians board of directors, says one of the best ways to land a job is to begin as a volunteer to gain experience. "The advantage is they have experience, which makes them much, much more marketable," Matin says. Another way to boost your chances is to dabble in teaching. Matin says teaching is an important part of the job as an EMT or paramedic, so hiring managers will look for general experience as an instructor on your resume. Gaining additional certifications beyond your training program and qualifying for the more-rigorous national EMT license (rather than simply the state-level license) will also give you an edge.