If you’re an Emergency Medical Technician looking to increase your earnings potential, or if you’re considering a career in the paramedic field, you may want to consider going back to school for a higher degree or certification. According to Payscale.com, the national pay average for a certified EMT with more than 5 years EMS experience is $13.42 per hour. A paramedic who has completed a paramedic school program can make an average of $16.65 per hour depending on their education and experience.
Although the lay person tends to use the terms “EMT” and “paramedic” interchangeably, they are very different jobs with very different responsibilities. An EMT typically has the lowest level of EMT training or EMT certification available, called the EMT Basic or EMT-B. The courses for EMT-Bs cover basic life support and non-invasive procedures such as CPR, the use of a defibrillator, basic airbag ventilation, and splinting or suctioning. On the other hand, a paramedic who has completed paramedic training courses is trained in the use of 30-40 different medications, can give shots or insert IV lines, and execute advanced airway life support. Overall an EMT completing paramedic school can provide a higher level of patient care and services. This requires a higher level of responsibility, which is why paramedics make more money and have a higher earning potential.
Advanced Education for Paramedic
If you currently work as an EMT or are participating in EMS courses to become certified as an EMT, you should consider an advanced paramedic program to procure a higher degree. Typically, a paramedic earns an Associate of Applied Sciences degree, which can be completed in as little as 18 months, depending on the paramedic school and the requirements of your state or country. The cost of paramedic training courses varies by state and/or school, but average paramedic school programs cost is between $800 and $1,500. This may seem like a huge investment of both your time and money compared to the basic certification, which typically costs much less and can be achieved in just a few months, but consider the benefits.
The advantages of a higher degree are obvious for anyone interested in a paramedic career. Many courses offer evening and weekend classes so you can continue to work full time while increasing your skills and gain hands-on experience. Typically, most EMS school programs also require at least 1 year of on-the-job work before going through paramedic training. However, the requirements are simple:
Basic pre-requisite requirements:
- High school diploma or GED
- 18 years of age
- Oral interview
- Drug test, including screening for tuberculosis and hepatitis B
- Pass a physical examination
- Background Check
The bottom line: if you want to increase your earnings potential and have a more fulfilling, long-term career, going back to paramedic school and getting a paramedic degree is definitely the way to go.