Becoming an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or a Paramedic isn’t a walk in the park, with both requiring significant education and training. While both professions require knowledge and skills to provide medical assistance to patients, there are differences in the schooling requirements between the two.

Let’s explore the education and training requirements for EMTs and Paramedics and compare the differences in the length of schooling, coursework, and certification processes. These requirements contribute to the paramedic vs. EMT salary comparison, as one requires more schooling than the other.

What is an EMT?

An Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) is a first responder with basic medical knowledge. This skill set helps them provide life-saving care to patients during an emergency while they’re transported to the hospital. While they often respond to emergencies, they also handle non-emergent transports, such as transporting individuals in wheelchairs or those who require oxygen tanks.

EMT Schooling Requirements

To become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), you must complete several steps.

For most soon-to-be EMTs, it starts with finishing basic education. Many employers require a high school diploma or a GED certificate to start the program. Additionally, you’ll probably need to get your cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification, another common prerequisite for these programs.

With your basic education complete and your CPR certification in hand, it’s time to start your EMT training in a state-approved program. Most programs run for six months to a year, although timelines to completion can vary based on the program’s structure and the student’s availability.

Throughout the program, you’ll learn about various topics, including anatomy and physiology, patient assessment, injury and illness evaluation, airway management, and basic life support techniques. The coursework comprises both classroom instruction and hands-on training in an ambulance or hospital setting.

EMT students also learn about medical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest, strokes, and seizures, and how to manage them effectively. Some programs may also include additional training, such as how to use automated external defibrillators (AED), administer oxygen, and manage trauma patients.

After completing the EMT training program, you must pass cognitive and psychomotor exams from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) or your state’s certifying agency. The exam covers information you learned during the program, evaluating your skills and knowledge in various hypothetical questions through written and practical components.

After completing your training requirements and passing the test for licensure, you can begin working as an EMT in your state. However, since certifications vary, remember to check them before beginning your journey.

What is a Paramedic?

A paramedic is a highly trained medical professional who provides advanced life support to patients in emergencies. Paramedics undergo additional training, so they have more advanced medical knowledge than EMTs and can perform more invasive procedures, such as administering medications, starting IVs, and performing advanced airway management.

Paramedics hold the same basic skillset as EMTs, starting as EMTs but building upon it for a more advanced skillset through paramedic training programs.

Paramedic Schooling Requirements

Before you can become a paramedic, you’ll need to become and work as an EMT. Once you become certified as an EMT-B, the most basic level of EMT training, you can start working towards becoming a paramedic.

Many paramedic programs require applicants to have hands-on experience as an EMT before beginning, so many EMTs work for several months or years before applying. For example, in Washington State, you must have a minimum of 18 months experience as an EMT.

Once you have the experience necessary to enroll in a program, you can start your paramedic training. Usually, this coursework takes one to two years and is available at colleges, technical institutions, and online schools. Your coursework will cover more advanced medical skills, such as endotracheal intubations, and take you through classroom learning, clinical rotations, and ambulance runs.

Once your training is complete, it’s time for exams. Requirements can vary by state, with some requiring soon-to-be paramedics to complete specific educational requirements and state licensing exams.

After passing the test to obtain your license, you’ll need to continue building and honing your knowledge through continuing education (CE) and refresher courses.

So, Does an EMT Require More Schooling Than a Paramedic?

Since paramedics start as EMTs and continue their education to become paramedics, they complete more schooling than EMTs. Both courses teach a broad set of skills, but paramedic programs outline more advanced and in-depth skills that allow students to fine-tune their knowledge and handle more serious situations.

Due to the difference in schooling requirements, paramedics often get paid more than EMTs. In the comparison of EMT vs paramedic salaries, the former usually makes approximately $37,210, while the latter makes a median annual wage of $49,090.

Different states feature higher average wages for these first responders, contributing to the differences in paramedic salary vs. EMT. If you’re looking to make a higher wage, being a paramedic might best fit your needs, but it’s important to remember you’ll have to complete more schooling.

Final Thoughts

Both Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics play critical roles in providing emergency medical care to patients. While EMTs require less schooling than Paramedics, both professions demand extensive knowledge and skills to perform their duties effectively.

It’s important to note that the salaries for both professions vary depending on factors such as location, experience, and certifications. Ultimately, choosing between EMT and Paramedic training comes down to personal preference, career goals, and willingness to commit to the education and experience required.