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EMT vs. Paramedic: What are the Differences?

Texas Paramedics and EMTs treating a patient

Although EMTs and paramedics both provide crucial medical care to patients in emergency situations, there are important differences between the two professions. EMTs focus on assessing a patient’s condition and providing basic medical care during transportation to the hospital. Paramedics, on the other hand, are trained to provide advanced medical care, including administering medications and performing advanced procedures, that is on par with what is provided in an emergency room. While paramedics typically have more experience and training than EMTs, both professions are essential in providing life-saving care to patients in need.

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.

What Do EMTs and Paramedics Do Differently?

While both EMTs and paramedics work in emergency medical services, there are significant differences in their roles and responsibilities. EMTs typically work under the supervision of a physician or medical director and have a more limited scope of practice. They may work with ambulance services, police departments, fire departments, hospitals, and governments. Paramedics, on the other hand, have a broader scope of practice and may work in ambulances, air ambulances, and fire services. They often work alongside EMTs, but their responsibilities are more advanced and require additional training and certification.

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.

Texas paramedics at an emergency situation

Education and Certifications for EMTs vs. Paramedics

The main difference between EMTs and paramedics lies in their level of education and certification requirements. To become a paramedic, you must first become an EMT. EMTs do not need prior experience to undergo training and receive certification, and only a high school diploma or GED is required. However, all EMTs must be CPR-certified. After obtaining EMT certification, you can begin training to become a paramedic. This involves taking courses through an accredited school with an EMT training program, like PERCOMOnline, and passing the National Registry Exam. Once you have completed these steps and obtained your certification, you can begin paramedic training.

One significant difference between EMTs and paramedics is their course structures, lengths, and requirements. EMTs typically complete a shorter training program, which covers basic medical procedures and techniques. On the other hand, paramedics undergo more extensive training, including advanced courses in anatomy, pharmacology, and patient assessment. This training can take up to two years to complete and includes both classroom instruction and hands-on experience. After completing their training, paramedics must pass a national certification exam and obtain state licensure before they can work in the field. While both EMTs and paramedics provide essential care to patients in emergency situations, paramedics are able to perform more advanced medical procedures and interventions.

Industry Outlook for EMTs vs. Paramedics

The industries for EMT vs. paramedic are both 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.

Texas EMT and Paramedic student studying

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!