How to Become a Paramedic

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To become a paramedic, one must have a high school diploma and be 18 years of age or older. Paramedics perform medical services, respond to emergency calls and transport patients to medical facilities. Paramedics work both in and out of doors, in all weather conditions. Their work can be stressful and physically strenuous, sometimes involving patients who are suffering life or death situations. Paramedics provide expanded care while on the way to a medical facility, which emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are not able to do. Paramedics can give medications intravenously and orally, interpret electrocardiograms (EKGs), and use other complex equipment. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics anticipates growth of employment of paramedics to be 33 percent from 2010 to 2020.[1]


Flickr: Jim Legans, Jr
Education Postsecondary non-degree award [1]
Starting pay $20,180 per year [2]
Median pay $30,360 per year [1]
10 yr growth Faster than average [1]
Related professions Doctor, firefighter, physician assistant
Author Tammy Feeney

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Paramedic Job Overview

In emergency medical situations, paramedics care for the injured or sick. A paramedic’s daily duties may include:

  • Respond to 911 calls for urgent medical assistance, such as bandaging a wound or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Determine a course of treatment after assessing a patient’s condition
  • Follow protocol that they studied in training and that they obtain from physicians who inspect their work
  • Keep patients safe and still in an ambulance during transport using restraints and backboards
  • Report their observations and treatment to the staff when transferring patients to the emergency branch of a medical management facility
  • Document the medical care the patient received
  • Clean equipment after use and replace used supplies[3]

Paramedic Education and Training

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification and a high school diploma or equivalent are prerequisites for most formal training and education courses. High school students who want to enter this occupation should take courses in physiology and anatomy. Paramedics must train in advance medical skills, as well as complete EMT-level and Advanced EMT training. Technical schools and community colleges may offer programs, in which graduates may receive an associate's degree. Paramedic programs may take up to 2 years and need about 1,300 hours of training.[4]

Paramedic Licensing

The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, or NREMT, licenses paramedics. NREMT certification calls for passing the national exam after completing a certified education or training program. All U.S. states require paramedics to have a license, but the exact requirements vary by state.[4] Those who apply for paramedic certification must be at least 18 years of age and have completed a paramedic training program that has been approved in their state.[5]

Paramedic and EMT Training

Courses for paramedics and EMT technicians

Also See: How to Become an EMT, How to Become a Doctor, How to Become a Firefighter, How to Become a Pharmacist, How to Become a Medical Transcriptionist, How to Become a Physical Therapy Assistant, How to Become a Medical Assistant, How to Become a Physician Assistant


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