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Summary

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Video transcript available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8zIHk9KKqI.
Quick Facts: EMTs and Paramedics
2023 Median Pay $44,780 per year
$21.53 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Postsecondary nondegree award
Work Experience in a Related Occupation See How to Become One
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2022 269,000
Job Outlook, 2022-32 5% (Faster than average)
Employment Change, 2022-32 14,600

What EMTs and Paramedics Do

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics assess injuries and illnesses, provide emergency medical care, and may transport patients to medical facilities.

Work Environment

Most EMTs and paramedics work full time, and some work more than 40 hours per week. Schedules may vary to include nights, weekends, and holidays. Their work may be physically strenuous and stressful, sometimes involving life-or-death situations.

How to Become an EMT or Paramedic

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics typically complete a postsecondary educational program. All states require EMTs and paramedics to be licensed in the state in which they work; requirements vary by state.

Pay

The median annual wage for emergency medical technicians was $38,930 in May 2023.

The median annual wage for paramedics was $53,180 in May 2023.

Job Outlook

Overall employment of EMTs and paramedics is projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 18,100 openings for EMTs and paramedics are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for EMTs and paramedics.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of EMTs and paramedics with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about EMTs and paramedics by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What EMTs and Paramedics Do About this section

EMTs and paramedics
EMTs and paramedics assess a patient’s condition and administer emergency medical care.

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics assess injuries and illnesses, provide emergency medical care, and may transport patients to medical facilities.

Duties

EMTs and paramedics typically do the following:

  • Respond to calls for medical assistance, such as at the scene of a car accident in which someone is injured
  • Assess people’s condition and determine what treatment, if any, is needed
  • Provide treatment, such as first aid or life support care, to sick or injured patients
  • Prepare patients for and safely transport them to the emergency department of a hospital or other healthcare facility
  • Document and report observations and any treatment provided, to physicians, nurses, or other healthcare staff
  • Inventory and replace medical supplies and clean equipment after use

When transporting a patient in an ambulance, one EMT or paramedic may drive the ambulance while another monitors the patient’s vital signs and provides emergency medical care. Some paramedics work as part of a helicopter’s or an airplane’s flight crew to transport critically ill or injured patients to a hospital.

In addition to transporting patients from the scene of an emergency, EMTs and paramedics transfer patients from one medical facility to another. Some patients may need to be transferred to a hospital that specializes in treating their particular injury or illness or to a facility that provides long-term care, such as a nursing home.

EMTs and paramedics must decontaminate the interior of an ambulance after treating a patient who has a contagious disease. They also may need to report the case to the proper authorities.

The specific responsibilities of EMTs and paramedics depend on their level of certification and the state in which they work. EMTs and paramedics sometimes begin with emergency medical responder (EMR) certification and advance to other levels of certification as they gain competency. The following are some of the duties at each of these EMT or paramedic certification levels.

An EMT, also known as an EMT-Basic, cares for patients at the scene of an incident and while taking patients by ambulance to a hospital. An EMT has the skills to assess a patient’s condition and to manage emergencies such as those related to respiratory, cardiac, or trauma incidents.

An Advanced EMT, also known as an EMT-Intermediate, has completed both requirements for the EMT-Basic level and instruction that allows them to perform more advanced medical procedures, such as administering intravenous fluids and some medications.

Paramedics provide more extensive prehospital care than do EMTs. In addition to doing the tasks of EMTs, they are able to administer a wider range of medications, such as through intravenous methods. Paramedics also perform advanced airflow management and interpret electrocardiograms (EKGs)—which monitor heart function—and other types of equipment.

EMTs and paramedics typically interact with other public safety and support personnel. For example, a 911 operator sends EMTs and paramedics to the scene of an emergency, where they often work with police and firefighters.

Work Environment About this section

EMTs and paramedics
EMTs and paramedics care for sick or injured patients in a prehospital setting.

Emergency medical technicians held about 170,700 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of emergency medical technicians were as follows:

Ambulance services 46%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 26
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 15
General medical and surgical hospitals; local 3
Outpatient care centers 2

Paramedics held about 98,300 jobs in 2022. The largest employers of paramedics were as follows:

Ambulance services 39%
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 37
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 13
General medical and surgical hospitals; local 4
Offices of physicians 1

These employment data exclude volunteer EMTs and paramedics, who share many of the same duties as paid EMTs and paramedics.

EMTs and paramedics work both indoors and outdoors, in all types of weather. Their work is physically strenuous, and they spend much of their time standing or moving. Their work also may be stressful, especially when it involves life-or-death situations. Some paramedics must fly on helicopters or airplanes as part of an air ambulance flight crew.

Injuries and Illnesses

EMTs and paramedics spend considerable time kneeling, bending, and lifting while caring for and moving patients. They may be exposed to serious diseases and viruses, such as HIV. EMTs and paramedics may reduce the risk of injury and illness by following proper safety procedures, such as waiting for police to clear an area in violent situations or wearing a mask and gloves while working with a patient.

Work Schedules

Most EMTs and paramedics work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week. Because EMTs and paramedics must be available to work in emergencies, their schedules may vary to include nights, weekends, and holidays. Some EMTs and paramedics work extended shifts, such as ones lasting 12, 18, or 24 hours.

How to Become an EMT or Paramedic About this section

EMTs and paramedics
EMTs and paramedics need to be physically fit as their job requires bending, lifting, and kneeling.

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics typically complete a postsecondary educational program. All states require EMTs and paramedics to be licensed in the state in which they work; requirements vary by state.

Education

High school students interested in becoming EMTs or paramedics should take courses in life sciences and consider becoming certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Some high schools offer EMT training through vocational or technical education programs.

EMTs typically need to complete a postsecondary education program to enter the occupation. Program applicants usually need a high school diploma or equivalent and certification in CPR and basic life support (BLS). However, program entry requirements vary by state.

Most EMT programs lead to a nondegree award. They vary in length but typically take less than 1 year for EMT-Basic certification and up to 2 years for EMT-Intermediate certification. Programs are offered by technical institutes, community colleges, universities, and facilities that specialize in emergency care training. Some instruction may take place in a hospital or ambulance setting.

EMT-Basic programs cover topics such as assessing patients’ conditions, handling emergencies, and using field equipment. Programs that do not require BLS and CPR certification prior to admission include instruction that leads to those certifications as part of the program. EMT-Intermediate programs require additional instruction for advanced skills, such as using complex airway devices, intravenous fluids, and some medications.

Paramedic postsecondary programs require applicants to have EMT-Intermediate certification. Most programs at community colleges typically lead to a nondegree award or an associate’s degree. Some programs are offered by 4-year universities and lead to a bachelor’s degree. Paramedic programs include courses such as anatomy and physiology, EKG interpretation, and maintaining airflow. They typically include supervised field experience.

The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs offers a list of accredited programs for paramedics.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certifies EMTs and paramedics at the national level. All levels of NREMT certification—including EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate, and paramedics—require completing an approved education program and passing the written national exam. EMT-Intermediates and paramedics have a higher level of skill and must complete an additional hands-on component to complete their certifications.

All states require EMTs and paramedics to be licensed; requirements vary by state. Most states require candidates to have NREMT certification, but others require passage of an equivalent state exam. States also may have other requirements for licensing, such as a minimum age and passing a background check.

Employers typically require job candidates to have a driver’s license and may prefer that they have ambulance driver certification.

Other Work Experience

Paramedics typically need work experience as an EMT prior to entering a paramedic education program.

Working as a volunteer EMT or paramedic may be helpful in getting experience for employment in these occupations.

Advancement

With additional education, paramedics may transfer into other healthcare occupations. For example, paramedic-to-RN programs offer an accelerated pathway to becoming a registered nurse.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. EMTs and paramedics must listen to patients describe their injuries and illnesses and to dispatchers and others conveying information. They also need to provide clear instruction and explain procedures.

Compassion. EMTs and paramedics must be able to provide care and emotional support to patients who may be in life-threatening situations or under extreme mental distress.

Interpersonal skills. EMTs and paramedics must be able to coordinate activities with other members of their team. They also interact with a variety of people when responding to calls for assistance.

Physical strength. EMTs and paramedics must be comfortable bending, lifting, and kneeling over the course of their shift.

Problem-solving skills. EMTs and paramedics must evaluate patients’ symptoms and determine the appropriate treatment.

Pay About this section

EMTs and Paramedics

Median annual wages, May 2023

Paramedics

$53,180

Health technologists and technicians

$51,250

Total, all occupations

$48,060

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics

$44,780

Emergency medical technicians

$38,930

 

The median annual wage for emergency medical technicians was $38,930 in May 2023. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,910, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $59,390.

The median annual wage for paramedics was $53,180 in May 2023. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,520, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $79,430.

In May 2023, the median annual wages for emergency medical technicians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Outpatient care centers $65,660
General medical and surgical hospitals; private 41,690
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 39,270
General medical and surgical hospitals; local 38,410
Ambulance services 37,620

In May 2023, the median annual wages for paramedics in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

General medical and surgical hospitals; private $54,620
Local government, excluding education and hospitals 53,960
Ambulance services 52,270
Offices of physicians 51,850
General medical and surgical hospitals; local 49,780

Most EMTs and paramedics work full time. Some work more than 40 hours per week. Because EMTs and paramedics must be available to work in emergencies, their schedules may vary to include nights, weekends, and holidays. Some EMTs and paramedics work extended shifts, such as ones lasting 12, 18, or 24 hours. 

Job Outlook About this section

EMTs and Paramedics

Percent change in employment, projected 2022-32

Health technologists and technicians

7%

Emergency medical technicians

5%

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics

5%

Paramedics

5%

Total, all occupations

3%

 

Overall employment of EMTs and paramedics is projected to grow 5 percent from 2022 to 2032, faster than the average for all occupations.

About 18,100 openings for EMTs and paramedics are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Many of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire.

Employment

Emergencies, such as car crashes, natural disasters, drug abuse incidents, and acts of violence, will continue to require the skills of EMTs and paramedics.

Growth in the middle-aged and older population will lead to an increase in age-related health emergencies, such as falls, heart attacks, and strokes. This increase, in turn, will support demand for EMT and paramedic services.

Employment projections data for EMTs and paramedics, 2022-32
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2022 Projected Employment, 2032 Change, 2022-32 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Emergency medical technicians and paramedics

29-2040 269,000 283,600 5 14,600 Get data

Emergency medical technicians

29-2042 170,700 180,000 5 9,300 Get data

Paramedics

29-2043 98,300 103,600 5 5,300 Get data

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS)

The Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OEWS data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.org. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of EMTs and paramedics.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help on Entry-Level Education 2023 MEDIAN PAY Help on Median Pay
emergency management directors image Emergency Management Directors

Emergency management directors prepare plans and procedures for responding to natural disasters or other emergencies. They also help lead the response during and after emergencies.

Bachelor's degree $83,960
Firefighters Firefighters

Firefighters control and put out fires and respond to emergencies involving life, property, or the environment.

Postsecondary nondegree award $57,120
Medical assistants Medical Assistants

Medical assistants complete administrative and clinical tasks, such as scheduling appointments and taking patients’ vital signs.

Postsecondary nondegree award $42,000
Police and detectives Police and Detectives

Police officers protect lives and property. Detectives and criminal investigators gather facts and collect evidence of possible crimes.

See How to Become One $74,910
Physician assistants Physician Assistants

Physician assistants examine, diagnose, and treat patients under the supervision of a physician.

Master's degree $130,020
Registered nurses Registered Nurses

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care and educate patients and the public about various health conditions.

Bachelor's degree $86,070
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, EMTs and Paramedics,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/emts-and-paramedics.htm (visited July 09, 2024).

Last Modified Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2024

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics (OEWS) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2022

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2022, which is the base year of the 2022-32 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2022-32

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032. The average growth rate for all occupations is 3 percent.

Employment Change, 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2022-32

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2022 to 2032.

2023 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics survey. In May 2023, the median annual wage for all workers was $48,060.