People often confuse the two jobs, but paramedics and EMTs are not interchangeable. While both professionals provide care to patients before they reach the hospital, EMTs examine the severity of a person’s condition while providing care en route to the hospital, and paramedics can provide advanced care that’s on par with emergency room services. Generally, paramedics are more experienced care providers than EMTs, but both play valuable roles in caring for emergency patients before they reach the emergency room.
Other differences between paramedics and EMTs help distinguish their job roles and responsibilities. Continue reading to learn more about the distinctions between the two and how you can become an EMT or paramedic.
Education and Certifications for EMTs vs. Paramedics
The most significant difference between paramedics and EMTs is their education and certification requirements. You cannot become a paramedic without first being an EMT. In contrast, EMTs don’t require experience to undergo training and receive their certification.
You don’t need a college degree to become an EMT, only a high school diploma or GED. Additionally, all EMTs must be CPR-certified. Once you receive your EMT certification, you can start training as a paramedic. You can receive this certification by taking courses through a credible school with an EMT training program and passing the National Registry Exam. Having done so, you can compile all the necessary documents and register to receive your certification. Only then can you start paramedic training.
One significant difference between paramedics and EMTs is their course requirements. Paramedics take more advanced courses, while EMT training covers more basic material. Paramedic classes are also more time-intensive, requiring more commitment than EMT courses and certification.
For example, becoming an EMT requires about 150 hours of work in a training program. Future paramedics will usually work for one to two years as EMTs and then participate in a paramedic training program, which can take somewhere between 1,200 to 1,800 hours to complete. The college courses to become a paramedic take about two years to complete. Then, people start taking the National Paramedic Certification exam and become licensed in their state. Once you satisfy these requirements, you can officially find work as a paramedic.
What Do EMTs and Paramedics Do Differently?
EMTs and paramedics have significant differences in their job roles and descriptions. EMTs usually work with ambulance services, police departments, fire departments, hospitals and governments. Since their scope of practice is more limited, they typically need a physician’s or medical director’s supervision. On the other hand, emergency medical services often employ paramedics, which can include working in ambulances, air ambulances and fire services. Paramedics may often work alongside EMTs, but their responsibilities are notably different.
For example, EMTs can only work within the scope of their certifications. Some of their responsibilities can include:
- Transporting patients between medical facilities
- Treating and stabilizing patients while taking them to the emergency room
- Assessing patients and maintaining medical files
- Reacting to emergency calls that require medical assistance
- Relaying information to the hospital about the number of patients, their injuries or illnesses and expected arrival time
- Providing CPR and bandaging injuries
- Preventing additional injuries and shock to patients
- Controlling bleeding
- Using restraints or backboards to keep patients secure and prevent them from moving during transport
While some EMT and paramedic responsibilities may overlap, since they can sometimes work in the same setting, a paramedic usually has more advanced duties and a broader scope of situations. Some of these include:
- Stabilizing a person’s condition when transporting them to the emergency room
- Delivering newborns in emergencies
- Treating injuries to stop bleeding and bandaging wounds
- Prioritizing care to patients with severe injuries on site
- Creating airways for individuals struggling or incapable of breathing
- Providing medications through IVs
- Providing breathing support
- Applying pacemakers for heart conditions
Since paramedics undergo advanced training, courses and certification, they are responsible for handling more during emergency calls than EMTs. Both jobs are vital in providing people with the emergency care they need before reaching the hospital.
Industry Outlook for EMTs vs. Paramedics
The EMT and paramedic industries are growing strong. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that both sectors will experience 7% job growth between 2021 and 2031. EMTs and paramedics are essential medical professionals who provide emergency care to patients before they reach the hospital, alleviating pain, providing comfort and administering the necessary care to prevent further injury.
While these industries have the same projected growth rate, there are some differences between the salaries of each job. EMTs in the U.S. receive an average salary of $35,830, while paramedics earn an average salary of $46,100. The primary reason for the salary difference between EMTs and paramedics is the education requirements and job responsibilities. While both jobs provide emergency care to patients, the EMT vs. paramedic scope of practice has some notable differences we’ve mentioned above.
While it’s not necessarily better to be an EMT or paramedic, as both professions offer essential services to patients in need, some people may choose one of the other based on education requirements and salary. Since both fields have high potential, now is an ideal time to switch careers if you’re thinking about changing things up.
If you’re not already an EMT, you can start taking your EMT training courses to benefit from this industry growth. If you’re already an EMT and looking for a change, you can begin your paramedic training, including taking additional courses and getting practical experience. Once you complete your training, you can take the exam to become certified and start looking for careers in the industry.
Regardless of your choice, both jobs are excellent ways to help the public while holding a secure position. Many places will offer benefits such as health, dental and vision insurance and paid vacation or sick leave.
Start Your Career as an EMT or Paramedic With PERCOMOnline
PERCOMOnline offers online training and certification for future EMTs and paramedics in Texas. We provide our courses online, and you’ll complete your clinical rotations and skills training in person. You can take the courses at your preferred pace, allowing you to manage your outside responsibilities as you pursue your new career. Our EMT training program provides you with everything you need to take the first step. If you’re already an EMT or want to become a paramedic, we also offer paramedic training online to help you reach your goals.
PERCOMOnline is here to help you jump-start your career at a price you can afford. We prioritize helping future medical professionals find passion in their work and become certified in their chosen fields. Enroll in our courses now to get started!