Paramedics provide more extensive pre-hospital care than do EMT-Basics. Paramedics administer medications orally and intravenously, interpret electrocardiograms (EKGs), perform endotracheal intubations, and use monitors and other complex equipment. All fifty states require EMTs and paramedics to be certified. In most states, certificate renewal is required every two to three years, and EMTs and paramedics must take refresher training courses or complete continuing education requirements. Many states restrict certification based on an individual’s criminal history.
Career opportunities in the field of Emergency Medical Services continue to expand as the field is shifting away from volunteer services toward paid professionals and the population grows and becomes more urbanized. Job growth through 2020 is projected to be much faster than average (SOURCE). As the baby boomer generation ages, they will require more medical services, spurring more demand for paramedics. Additional job openings will come as current paramedics leave the field because of modest pay, limited advancement opportunities, and stressful conditions. Private ambulance services will provide the biggest number of jobs; competition is keen for the higher-paying jobs found in local fire departments. EMT-Paramedics have the best opportunities as people demand better and better care.
Emergency medical care is required 24 hours a day, so paramedics often must work odd hours and be on call for long periods of time. Emergency medical personnel employed with private ambulance services work an average of 45 to 50 hours per week; with hospitals they work 45 to 60 hours a week; and those with fire departments average about 50 hours per week.
Wages for this occupation vary from state to state. Wages vary considerably based on the type of emergency medical service by which one is employed.