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Career Q&A: Paramedic


What will I do?

Working closely with emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics manage the health of patients until they can be examined by a doctor to get further help. On any shift, their patients might be a woman having a heart attack, a man who broke a bone in a car accident or a child struggling to breathe.

First, paramedics check the patient’s overall condition. They then work quickly to stabilize the patient by compressing open wounds, administering fluids into the patient’s vein, or using tools to restore a heartbeat. Both paramedics and EMTs follow set rules for medical care.

Paramedics work both indoors and outdoors. Because health care must be available 24 hours of every day and doesn’t stop when a work shift ends, paramedics may spend 45 to 60 hours a week on the job.

What training do I need?

Usually a paramedic student first becomes an EMT. An EMT has between 110 and 400 hours of training, a paramedic has 1,00 hours or more. A paramedic student must be able to handle the physical parts of the job. Also, they may be registered or certified through different groups.

How will I get training?

Paramedic training is offered at many places, such as community colleges, hospitals, technical schools and fire and police academies. Some programs are designed to be part of the schooling for a bachelor’s degree of science, or EMT and paramedic training may be rolled into one program.

How much will I be paid?

Median hourly wages of EMTs and paramedics were $14.10 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $11.13 and $18.28.