What Do You Need to Become a Paramedic?

If you can stay calm under pressure, love helping others, and want to improve your community, becoming a paramedic may be the right career move. Paramedics work in the emergency medical services (EMS) field, providing advanced life-saving care in the event of an emergency.

The average paramedic in the United States makes between $43,000 and $54,000 per year, but depending on your state, you can make over $70,000 per year. But what does it take to become a paramedic?

Paramedics must undergo extensive training, meet the required prerequisites, pass the NREMT paramedic and psychomotor (skills) exams, and pass a Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP)-accredited paramedic program.

The two exams you take will be the ultimate deciding factor in whether or not you receive your paramedic certifications. Because of this, it’s highly recommended you seek paramedic test prep resources to feel confident on exam day.

What Does a Paramedic Do?

Paramedics are the highest level of emergency medical technicians (EMT); their duty is to perform advanced life support (ALS). The responsibilities of ALS include, but are not limited to:

  • Administering intravenous (IV) injections or fluids
  • Administering medications
  • Performing CPR
  • Delivering babies
  • Performing patient assessments
  • Performing advanced respiratory procedures
  • Treating wounds

These professionals act as the lead members of emergency response teams because they have the highest level of qualifications and certifications. Because they act as the lead on their teams, paramedics must have strong leadership and communication skills. They must remain steady and be able to perform life-saving functions in the face of crisis.

The Prerequisites 

To become a paramedic, you must be at least eighteen years old and have a high school diploma or GED. In addition to these requirements, you must also:

  • Complete a state-approved EMT course
  • Complete a CAAHEP-accredited paramedic program
  • Have an up-to-date CPR and Basic Life Support (BLS) certification

With all these credentials met you can apply for the National Paramedic Certification through the National Registry for Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).

Some requirements vary by state, with some states requiring paramedics to receive some college credit through relevant coursework. To verify your state’s specific requirements, call the EMS agency within your state to ensure you meet all of the licensing requirements.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Paramedic?

How long it takes to meet your paramedic licensing requirements depends on your qualifications and experience. 

Typically, you must become an EMT before moving up to a paramedic. Most paramedic training programs take between 1,200 and 1,800 hours to complete–meaning it can take anywhere between six months to two years to gain your paramedic license.

Factors That Impact Completion Time

What factors can impact your ability to earn your paramedic license faster than others? In truth, many factors can determine whether it will take six months or even more than two years.

Your Existing Qualifications

If you still need to earn your EMT license and certification, this could tack on additional time to your timeline. You will need to complete the entire EMT pathway before moving on to your paramedic license.

The NREMT recognizes four levels of EMT professionals: EMRs, EMTs, Advanced EMTs (AEMTs), and paramedics. Identify which level you are currently at in order to accurately assess your likely timeline.

Your State’s Requirements

Some states require paramedics to have an Associate’s degree or have completed college-level coursework in relevant areas pertaining to EMS. Always verify with your state’s EMT agency what their requirements are.

Your Chosen Program

Not all accredited programs are run the same way; some place heavier emphasis on bookwork, some prioritize hands-on learning, and others are instructors reading what’s written on the slides. This can impact your confidence in your skills and knowledge and determine if you need additional resources to prepare for the exam.

Your Outside Resources

Many paramedic students find that taking the accredited course doesn’t help them feel ready for the exam. Life circumstances can make independent studying more difficult, and they may find their schedules don’t align with others for study groups. Your schedule and priorities can impact your ability to complete the course and pass the exam.

Confidently Take On the Exams With The Paramedic Coach

With The Paramedic Coach’s Video Vault, you have meaningful insights and test-specific resources that prepare you for the exam, your on-the-job duties, and your career. The Video Vault features more than 400 study materials, including quizzes, videos, audio files, and access to an exclusive community of EMS professionals.

Get the most out of your prep work with lifetime access to our Video Vault today!

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