Can You Make a Decent Living as an EMT?

Working through EMT test preparation requires a commitment to learning and high-quality resources that ensure you know every examined subject area and can answer a variety of questions with confidence. The role of an EMT or a paramedic is important and requires a foundation of emergency medicine, with certifications and licensing to work within a hospital emergency response team or ambulatory service. 

However, any career needs to provide a good salary and ensure you can afford to live comfortably while fulfilling such vital responsibilities. Today, we’ll look at how much do EMT basics make and which types of roles offer the most lucrative career opportunities.

What Types of Jobs Can EMTs Apply For?

The EMT qualification refers to a range of certification levels necessary to provide life-saving emergency medical response services. You could qualify as:

  • An EMT trained in first aid, basic life support techniques, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), from giving a patient oxygen to splinting an injured limb or getting bleeding under control
  • An advanced EMT, who has completed the AEMT exam and provides the same expertise as EMTs, but has greater training in areas such as administering some types of medications and fluids and using equipment carried within ambulances
  • A paramedic – the most qualified emergency responder licensed to provide advanced life support, from patient assessments to starting an IV line, inserting emergency airways, and using manual defibrillators

It’s worth clarifying that states have different rules and licensing requirements, alongside regulations about the recognized emergency healthcare qualifications and the minimum number of EMTs or paramedics dispatched to a callout. Therefore, you may need to verify the local standards if you need further guidance about how your qualifications may fit into the framework within your city or state.

In general, the more advanced the qualification and level of training you have completed, the more you can earn.

Why Do EMT Salaries Differ?

The EMT qualification is relevant to numerous settings and environments, meaning there isn’t a standardized pay rate as you might be employed by a different organization or healthcare service. Both EMTs and paramedics can work for primary healthcare services, such as hospital emergency departments, private ambulance companies, and medical response services, or within another setting altogether.

On average, newly qualified EMTs in the US earn just under $20 per hour. However, those based in hospitals tend to attract higher salaries than those working as part of an ambulance crew. Average pay rates depend on the nature of the role and the type of organization, so they should be compared on a local basis for a more accurate picture.

Location is also influential because states with shortages of emergency responders or with high demand for ambulance services due to demographics or average ages of the population may offer higher salaries to ensure they can meet demand. While sources offer conflicting statistics, states like Hawaii, Alaska, Maryland, and Washington provide premiums for qualified EMTs. New York, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut also tend to have higher-than-average salaries for EMTs and paramedics.

As with many other professions, areas with higher living costs tend to offer pay packages to match, attracting skilled EMTs with pay rates that will enable them to sustain a reasonable standard of living.

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