Working as a paramedic: Everything you need to know

Last updated: April 25, 2024
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Elyssa Duncan
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Working as a paramedic: Everything you need to know
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Paramedics are medical professionals who specialize in emergency medical treatment. While they are not doctors or nurses, they are an essential part of the healthcare team.

It's a tough job, and the career path isn't for everyone, but if you have the right skills and education, it can be a rewarding and fulfilling occupation!

But what does a paramedic do? And is a paramedic and emergency medical technician (EMT) the same thing?

We'll answer both of these questions. Plus, we'll tell you how much you can make in a paramedic job and where to find job openings in your area!

What is a paramedic?

Paramedics are first responders in emergency situations. They're healthcare professionals who give medical treatment and prepare patients for transport to a hospital.

A paramedic attends to a medical emergency in someone's home or in a public space. They often work with the police and fire department to assist people who have been in road accidents.

Some things to know about the position:

  • They work closely with healthcare facilities and keep the hospital updated with a patient's condition.

  • Paramedics may need to administer CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), use defibrillators, bandage wounds, and treat broken bones.

  • It's a busy work environment. No two shifts are ever the same!

  • Paramedics often work on a full-time roster, including nights, weekends, and holidays. They may be on-call as well.

What qualifications do you need to be a paramedic?

If you want to be a paramedic, here's what you'll need:

  • A high school diploma or GED.

  • A two-year associate degree or a four-year bachelor's degree.

  • Valid driver's license.

  • First aid training and a CPR certification.

  • Licensure and membership to work in your state.
    For example, paramedics need to register with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).

What is the difference between a paramedic and an EMT?

Both paramedics and EMTs work in emergency medical services (EMS). But the two positions aren't the same.

Paramedics have higher qualifications than EMTs and can provide more advanced medical care. For example, an EMT can give a patient oxygen, but they can't insert an IV line.

Many people start their careers as EMTs to gain experience before studying to become a paramedic.

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What skills do you need to be a paramedic?

If you want to be a paramedic, you'll need:

  • Excellent communication skills and interpersonal skills.

  • Compassion and an ability to work with people of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds.

  • Good problem-solving skills.

  • Ability to work in a flexible work environment.

  • Physical strength and stamina to work busy shifts.

  • Comfortability with blood and other body fluids.

  • Calm, focused demeanor.

The top paramedic job responsibilities

Here are some of the top responsibilities that you may find in a paramedic job description.

1. Providing emergency treatment

Paramedics are often the first people on the scene. They often need to provide emergency treatment before transporting a patient to a medical facility.

For example, they may need to give patients basic life support, perform life-saving medical procedures, and use resuscitation techniques.

Paramedics have access to medical equipment such as defibrillators, blankets, stethoscopes, and medication.

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2. Bandaging injured patients

When paramedics attend emergency situations, they may have to provide first aid. If a patient has an injury, the paramedic will need to clean and bandage the wound.

They'll explain to the patient what is happening before using a bandage to control any bleeding.

Bandaging injured patients can help to stop blood loss before the patient can get to the emergency room.

3. ​Driving an emergency vehicle

Paramedics are mobile healthcare professionals. They travel to accidents and emergencies in an ambulance.

Part of the job description is driving emergency vehicles and transporting patients to the nearest medical facility.

A dispatcher takes emergency calls and communicates with ambulance services.

Paramedics then travel to the location, administer first aid, and transport the patient once it's safe to do so.

4. ​Monitoring the patient's condition

Paramedics provide patient care both on the scene and in the emergency vehicle. A patient's condition can deteriorate quickly, so paramedics need to monitor them closely.

They may need to treat the patient with drugs, give them advanced life support, or change bandages if their condition worsens.

5. ​Talking to patients

Patients who need emergency care can become distressed. The paramedic needs to talk to them and keep them calm.

Depending on the situation, the paramedic may need to ask questions to know what happened and where the patient is feeling pain.

The paramedic will also need to find out if the patient has any pre-existing medical conditions or medication allergies.

How much does a paramedic make?

According to Glassdoor, Paramedics earn an average of $50,404 per year. The wage is usually higher if you work for a hospital.

Paramedics typically earn more than EMTs due to their more advanced education.

Where to find a job as a paramedic

Want to find a job as a paramedic? You can browse our job board for paramedic vacancies in your area.

You should also consider working as a flight paramedic, where you will provide aero-medical services.

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Working as a paramedic

If you want a fulfilling career helping others, you may enjoy working as a paramedic.

In this article, we told you about the skills and qualifications you need for the job.

And, we gave you a rundown of the top paramedic responsibilities. On our list was providing emergency treatment and life-support care, bandaging patients, driving an emergency vehicle, monitoring a patient's condition, and talking to patients.

By now, you'll know much you can make and where you can find a job.

Before you go, don’t forget to browse Jobcase’s job board for positions in your local area. You can also check out our Getting Hired Resource Center for resume and interview tips.

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