It certainly isn’t for the faint of heart, but for those with a desire to really make a difference, studying and training to become a paramedic or an EMT (emergency medical technician) can be the beginning of a richly rewarding career.
Paramedics and EMTs are the first responders in medical emergencies, administering medical support to prolong life until a patient can reach the hospital. It is a job that will put you in multiple life or death situations, and a paramedic or an EMT makes all the difference when there has been an emergency.
It would be a lie to say such a job cannot be stressful, but for those that have what it takes, job satisfaction can be immense. Being a paramedic or EMT involves not only administering the emergency medical support that can save lives, but getting there as well. In this sense, it can be an adventure every day. For those that have the drive and appreciate a challenge, the rewards are nothing short of saving lives. It would be no understatement to say that paramedics and EMTs are heroes.
Paramedic or EMT – What’s the Difference?
Both Paramedics and EMTs provide medical care ‘in the field,’ meaning away from hospitals where more advanced medical care is administered. Ultimately, the difference lies in the responsibilities that each role offers. EMTs provide more basic care at the point where it is needed in an emergency. Paramedics, on the other hand, will offer the most advanced medical care that is practically possible away from a hospital setting.
For example, an EMT will be trained how to stop external bleeding, apply neck braces, and administer CPR. A paramedic, on the other hand, will be trained in resuscitating patients, administering certain medications, inserting IVs, and other more complex tasks.
EMTs will usually work for the ambulance services or fire and police departments – anywhere that basic medical care is often needed in a pinch. As well as working for such services, a paramedic may work in more advanced emergency services, such as air ambulances. Both paramedics and EMTs will be equipped with the latest equipment, from basic first aiders supplies to the more complex medical equipment found onboard ambulances.
As you might have guessed, it takes fewer qualifications and less time to become an EMT than it does a paramedic. To obtain certification, EMTs will typically train for a total of 120 to 150 hours to become certified. For a paramedic, this can leap to 1200 to 1500 hours of training while also involving a degree and an exam.
Five Reasons to Become a Paramedic or EMT
To that end, here are five particularly good reasons, in our opinion, to become a paramedic or EMT:
1. Very Accessible Career
One of the best things about choosing to become a paramedic or an EMT as a career is that it is far more accessible than you may think. Unlike becoming a doctor, which requires years of expensive education at medical school and high grades from an early age, becoming a paramedic or an EMT is much less demanding where academic attainment is concerned. This is not for a second to say that the job is easier or less stressful, but it does mean that it is a career open to those for whom med school is not an option. Studying to become a paramedic or EMT typically takes no longer than three years.
The difference in training hours and qualifications required to become an EMT or a paramedic also means that, if this type of work is attractive to you, there is an opportunity to pursue it even if extended study or training hours are not an option.
2. High Job Growth
One of the most attractive reasons to study to become a paramedic or an EMT is that the job growth and outlook for these professions are exceptionally good. Job growth for both EMTs and paramedics is projected at 7% for the next ten years – that is faster than the national average for all occupations.
The top ten states for paramedic/EMT job growth show some very rosy figures indeed, with the highest – Colorado – currently sitting at 32.4%! All of the top ten, in fact, have projected growth rates of higher than 20%.
3. Multiple Career Routes
A career as a paramedic or an EMT is not only accessible but can also be highly varied too. Embarking on training as either paramedic or EMT will begin the same way – by completing the basic training and achieving a CPR certification.
After that though, aspiring EMTs and paramedics can decide how far to take their training. A course in emergency medical technology can be completed at a community or technical college. This program can last between one and two years and will teach learners how to assess, care for, and transport patients.
To become certified to practice, both paramedics and EMTs must complete a national or state exam. This exam typically includes a cognitive examination, which candidates have no less than six attempts to pass. Candidates can reapply for the exam 15 days after receiving the results, if necessary.
The great thing about this is that potential EMTs and paramedics have a lot of time to decide whether the discipline is right for them and can make decisions along the way about how far their training goes. This offers great flexibility and means you can fully experience what being an EMT or a paramedic requires before making a full commitment.
4. Gain Crisis and Leadership Skills
Becoming either an EMT or a paramedic will teach you how to take leadership in demanding situations and handle crisis situations calmly. Whatever route your career ultimately takes, these are great life skills that can be applied in all manner of situations.
Working as an EMT or a paramedic will make you a capable and helpful person to have around whenever a minor and major crisis may strike the lives of those around you. There is a real peace of mind and satisfaction in knowing that, should a tricky situation ever arise, you would know what to do. In the end, this could make all the difference.
5. Save Lives
Ultimately, becoming either an EMT or a paramedic is about saving lives. Situations can be tough and the job can be very stressful, but embarking on such a career is an accessible way to really make a difference in the situations where it is needed most. Whatever route you take and however far you go, you will find that this is the motivation that will drive you on.