EMT and Paramedic Jobs

Training and Education Jobs and Salaries

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics hold about 201,000. Most career EMTs and paramedics work in metropolitan areas. Volunteer emergency medical technicians and paramedics are more common in small cities, towns, and rural areas. These individuals volunteer for fire departments, emergency medical services, or hospitals and may respond to only a few calls per month. About 30 percent of EMTs or paramedics belong to a union.

Paid emergency medical technicians and paramedics are employed in a number of industries. About four out of ten work as employees of private ambulance services. About three out of ten work in local government for fire departments, public ambulance services, and emergency medical services. Another two out of ten work full time in hospitals within the medical facility or respond to calls in ambulances or helicopters to transport critically ill or injured patients. The remainder work in various industries providing emergency services.

Employment for emergency medical technicians and paramedics is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through 2016. Job prospects should be good, particularly in cities and private ambulance services. Employment of emergency medical technicians and paramedics is expected to grow by 19 percent between 2006 and 2016, which is faster than the average for all occupations. Full-time paid EMTs and paramedics will be needed to replace unpaid volunteers.

It is becoming increasing difficult for emergency medical services to recruit and retain unpaid volunteers because of the amount of training and the large time commitment these positions require. As a result, more paid emergency medical technicians and paramedics are needed. Furthermore, as a large segment of the population - aging members of the baby boom generation - becomes more likely to have medical emergencies, demand will increase for EMTs and paramedics. There also will still be demand for part-time, volunteer EMTs and paramedics in rural areas and smaller metropolitan areas.

Job prospects should be favorable. Many job openings will arise from growth and from the need to replace workers who leave the occupation because of the limited potential for advancement, as well as the modest pay and benefits in private-sector jobs. Job opportunities should be best in private ambulance services. Competition will be greater for jobs in local government, including fire, police, and independent third-service rescue squad departments which tend to have better salaries and benefits. EMTs and paramedics who have advanced education and certifications, such as Paramedic level certification, should enjoy the most favorable job prospects as clients and patients demand higher levels of care before arriving at the hospital.

Earnings of EMTs and paramedics depend on the employment setting and geographic location of their jobs, as well as their training and experience. Median annual earnings of EMTs and paramedics are around $27,000. The middle 50 percent earn between $21,000 and $35,000. The lowest 10 percent earn less than $17,000, and the highest 10 percent earn more than $45,000. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of emergency medical technicians and paramedics are around $23,000 in general medical and surgical hospitals and in ambulance services. Those in emergency medical services who are part of fire or police departments typically receive the same benefits as firefighters or police officers. For example, many are covered by pension plans that provide retirement at half pay after 20 or 25 years of service or if the worker is disabled in the line of duty.