How to Become A Paramedic

Paramedics are often the first medical personnel to arrive at the scene of an accident, and other medical emergency situations. While doctors and nurses treat patients inside hospitals, paramedics must make sure the injured are safely transported there and receive necessary medical attention and treatment on the way. These professionals must respond to medical emergency calls and provide on-site emergency care to patients.

Paramedics are respected for their dedication, quick-thinking, and skills that help save the lives of many, every day. They play a crucial role in the healthcare sector, and are mainly responsible for providing emergency care outside healthcare institutions. Not only must the paramedics be highly skilled, but also prepared to work under intense pressure and challenging situations.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts a positive job growth in the field in the coming years.

How to Become a Paramedic

Paramedics are one of the most highly trained emergency care technicians. To become a paramedic, it is important to complete a paramedic program and acquire specialized education. Most states require paramedics to hold a professional certification.

Listed below are the steps that must be taken to become a paramedic:

  • Complete a high school diploma
  • Complete a EMT-basic and EMT-Intermediate course
  • Complete a EMT-paramedic program
  • Complete all the minimum training requirements
  • Get certified

An EMT basic program is designed to prepare individuals for entry-level EMT careers. This program is offered by many vocational schools and colleges. Although the curriculum may vary slightly between schools, it is aimed at providing students with fundamental knowledge on emergency care. The program will typically cover lectures and practical training classes. Here are a few of the main areas covered in an EMT-Basic program:

Airway Management

This course will provide students with in-depth knowledge of airway management techniques, how to utilize oxygen equipment, and more. It is one of the most fundamental areas of the program.

Patient Assessment

All EMTs must be able to respond to patients quickly and assess the level of trauma or injury. This course is designed to teach students about assessing patients, taking their history, preparing documentation, and using effective methods of communication.

Medical Emergencies

In this course, students will cover a wide range of courses such as pharmacology, cardiac diabetic, gynecological emergencies, poisoning and overdose, and respiratory failure.

Infants and Children

This course will enable students to understand the physical and psychological factors of pediatric patients. Students will learn how to respond to pediatric patients in emergency situations.

Upon completion of the program, individuals can apply for an EMT-B certification from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) or any other approved state credentialing organization.


In this course, student learn about the career demands of an EMT-I. Individuals must have completed an EMT-B to qualify for this program. Some of the courses covered in this program are:

Foundations of EMT Critical Care

This area will focus on the basic concepts of intermediate care. Students will learn about the basic aspects of emergency care that is more advanced in nature.

General Pharmacology

In this course, students will acquire a brief overview of drugs and medication used for treatment. The course teaches basic effects of drugs on human body.

Trauma Systems and Mechanisms of Injury

This course is geared towards providing students with a thorough understanding of the various types of trauma injuries. Students will learn how to effectively provide care to patients suffering from serious injuries.

Patient Assessment and Communications

EMTs must be able to communicate effectively with patients and determine the extent of damage/injury. The course will teach students how to analyze patient history and manage necessary documentation.


The program will have practical courses that are covered in laboratories. It is important for students to practically apply what they have learned. The course will enable students to learn how to stabilize patients in shock, provide emergency treatment, and medication.

Upon completion of the EMT-Intermediate, students can apply for a certification offered by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). Students must pass the certification exam which will test their theoretical knowledge as well as practical skills.

EMT-Paramedic Program

This is the most advanced-level program in EMT. Students who have successfully completed an EMT-Basic and EMT-Intermediate are eligible for enrollment in a paramedic course. The program will impart knowledge and skills needed to lead a rescue team and respond to medical emergencies. Some of the main areas covered in the program are:

Assessment Based Management

This course will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of patient care management. Students will learn how to deal with pediatric patients, adult patients, and special needs patients.

Anatomy and Physiology

In this course, student will learn about the human circulatory, blood, and respiratory systems. The course will emphasize on the various inter-relationships of human body functions and systems.


This course will provide students with the necessary skills need to deal with cardiac emergencies. Some of the topics included in the course are, cardiac crisis, physiology, pathology, anatomy, and field diagnosis.

General Psychology

This course will cover the basic concepts and theories of psychology. Students will learn how to use various psychological approaches, and how to identify the basic mental processes.


By the end of the program, students may be able to:

  • Demonstrate an ability to comprehend and apply clinical knowledge relevant to the role of an EMT
  • Demonstrate technical skills and proficiency
  • Use various emergency medical equipment

Most states require paramedics to be certified from the NREMT or a state body. To qualify for the certification exam, it is important to have completed a paramedic program from a CAAHEP- accredited school. The basic requirements for certification are:

  • Must be over the age of 18
  • Complete an entry application
  • Meet the minimum training requirements
  • Meet the minimum continuing education requirements
Career Prospects

Paramedics deal with life and death situations on daily basis; therefore it is a challenging profession. The work can be physically demanding as well. A majority of paramedics work outdoors and are employed by ambulance services and hospitals in metropolitan areas. The typical duties of a paramedic include:

  • Responding to 911 calls
  • Following guidelines and protocols when attending patients
  • Providing medical treatment and emergency care
  • Assess the patient’s condition and document the care given to him/her

The BLS reports that paramedics earned a median yearly salary of $31,020 in 2012. Paramedic jobs are expected to increase in the coming years.


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Q:How long does it take to become a paramedic?

A:Paramedics undergo three levels of training which involves emergency medical technician (EMT) and advanced medical training. EMT training typically takes about one year and equips candidates with the basic skills in emergency management, trauma care and field work. Advanced EMT training takes an additional 300 hours and includes training in areas like complex airway management, intravenous fluids and administration of some medications. After completing the first two levels, advanced medical skills training is required to become a paramedic. This takes another 1200 hours.

Q:Where can paramedics work?

A:Paramedics are often the first response team to reach the scene of an accident and must provide on-the-spot medical care to injured individuals. They are most often employed by ambulance services or hospitals, especially in large cities. A paramedic may also work in industrial settings like factories, as part of search and rescue teams, in the military, in air ambulances, and alongside firefighters.

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