What Does It Take to Become a Paramedic?

Paramedics are known to be the heroes on the scene of an emergency, providing life-saving care and leading a team of emergency medical service (EMS) professionals in times of crisis. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) recognizes four levels of these healthcare providers, with paramedics holding the highest credentials and expertise. Below them are Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians (AEMTs), Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs), and Emergency Medical Responders (EMRs).

What do you need to become a paramedic? Aside from being able to stay calm under pressure, lead a team of EMS professionals, and have strong communication skills, you must meet several other requirements to become a paramedic. This often includes additional education, completing accredited coursework, and passing certification exams.

This pathway can be strenuous and time-consuming, which is why many professionals want to pass their certification exams on their first try. Online paramedic test prep resources, like the Video Vault, become crucial to passing your exams and preparing you for a career as a paramedic.

What Is a Paramedic?

Paramedics are the highest rung on the ladder of EMS professionals because of their credentialing requirements. These healthcare professionals provide emergency medical care for patients prior to their admission to a hospital, medical facility, or other medical care provider.

Paramedic Job Duties

A day in the life of a paramedic is varied and can be fast-paced. The nature of the job requires these professionals to respond quickly to medical emergencies and provide life-saving care. This can include:

  • Administering oxygen, opening an airway, controlling bleeding, assisting in childbirth, managing conditions in an acute state, responding to cardiac emergencies
  • Delivering advanced care as needed, including intubating a patient or starting an intravenous line
  • Monitoring the mechanical conditions of ambulances, including their equipment and supplies, before responding to each call
  • Completing patient care reports

The key duties of a paramedic focus on providing life-saving interventions and safely transporting patients to a medical facility. 

The Path to Paramedic Licensure

Paramedics are trained and qualified to provide an advanced level of care when compared to AEMTs and EMTs. As such, these professionals must meet several criteria to gain their certifications and licensure and be efficient and confident in their careers.

The Prerequisites

To become a paramedic, you must start as an EMT, but it is not necessary for you to progress to an AEMT along the way. Depending on your goals, needs, and programs, earning an AEMT certification helps you feel more prepared for your journey to becoming a paramedic.

Paramedics must be at least eighteen years of age and have a high school diploma or GED. Paramedics also must have a current CPR and Basic Life Support (BLS) certification, complete a state-approved EMT course, and have completed a paramedic program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Check With Your State

State requirements for paramedics can vary. For example, some states require paramedics to have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree or complete some college-level education courses as a prerequisite. Contact your local EMS agency to check your state’s unique certification requirements.

Pass the Courses

You must complete two programs before applying for your paramedic license: a state-approved EMT course and a CAAHEP-accredited paramedic program. Depending on the program, the EMT course generally takes around twelve weeks to complete. The CAAHEP-accredited paramedic program can take anywhere between 1,200 to 1,800 hours.

Take the Exams

To gain your certification as an EMT, you must complete the NREMT’s cognitive (knowledge) exam and your state’s psychomotor (skills) exam. The paramedic exams follow a similar format but cover more advanced practices and knowledge critical for the job.

Both exams are pretty difficult, depending on how much prep work you have done. The average pass rate for first-time test takers for the paramedic exam ranges between 70% and 80%. If you seek your paramedic license, preparing beyond taking the required courses is important.

Get More From Your Career With the Video Vault

While it’s easy to say you should dedicate all your time to your EMS studies and test preparation, life is more complicated than that. Many learners are balancing their studies with work, family, and other important obligations. That’s why investing in an online study tool available when you need it can give you the boost you need.

What is the best online test prep for paramedics? Introducing the Video Vault. Our Video Vault grants you lifetime access to more than 400 study materials–including videos, audio files, and more–to gain more significant insights into the exams and invaluable information for your career!

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