Step by step guide to becoming a paramedic

Becoming a paramedic or an emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic can take anywhere from one to three years, depending on a student’s choice of career and educational path. EMT training focuses on life support techniques in first-response situations, including CPR, tourniquet application, and treatment of wounds. Paramedics deliver more advanced procedures and therefore require more extensive education and training. This guide below reviews basics of the profession and provides a strong focus on the educational steps needed to enter the field. Interested students can also learn about average salaries and projected job growth for this exciting field.

What does a paramedic do?

Paramedics and EMTs provide care for sick and injured people who need emergency medical treatment. This is a high-stakes position that requires professionals to act quickly and accurately, thinking on their feet as care for patients in chaotic situations.

EMTs work in a variety of capacities, but are most recognized for providing immediate medical attention in emergency situations. These may include car crashes, natural disasters, in-home health failures, and accidents. In addition to providing CPR and treating a variety of external wounds, EMTs also transport patients to hospitals or other medical facilities as needed.

Many first responders begin their careers as EMTs to gain experience before pursuing additional training to become a paramedic. In addition to performing all of the same treatments and procedures as EMTs, paramedics are also trained in advanced skills such as administering IVs and providing respiratory procedures.

What kind of skills are required?

This is a fast-paced career that demands workers have strong critical thinking skills to make snap decisions about how to treat patients. EMTs and paramedics must be excellent communicators: good listening helps them understand what each patient needs, while strong verbal skills allow them to communicate effectively with patients and other healthcare professionals.

Like other medical providers, paramedics and EMTs must show compassion when working with people in physical and emotional distress. Physical strength, stamina, and coordination are imperative for moving patients quickly and treating them with precision.

The steps to becoming a paramedic

  1. Complete EMT (paramedic) basic training
  2. Pass a national or state exam to become certified
  3. Complete advanced EMT training (optional)
  4. Complete a two year degree program (optional)