How Much Does an EMS Worker Make?

Salary is an essential factor to consider when debating the merits of a career path. It sets the stage for earning potential, contributing to your quality of life and financial stability. Higher salaries can provide greater opportunities for personal and professional growth and impact your ability to save.

As you begin considering a career in EMS, you might wonder how much employees in this field make. Wages and salaries vary based on many factors, such as your role, geographical location, and experience. EMS workers make around $30,000 on the low end, while the high end stretches to several hundred thousand per year. It all depends on you and your role.

What is EMS?

EMS is short for Emergency Medical Services, a system that responds to emergencies requiring immediate pre-hospital medical care. Emergency medical technicians (EMT) and paramedics comprise the highly skilled medical staff that responds to these emergencies. EMTs have a more basic medical skill set, while paramedics have more advanced training, but both play a crucial role in helping patients.

In addition to paramedics and EMTs, the EMS team extends to other teams that play vital roles in responding to emergencies, including dispatch, fire departments, and hospital emergency departments. Each team is part of a well-oiled machine that provides emergent care to people needing medical care.

How Much Do EMS Workers Make a Year?

Employees in the EMS field can make anywhere from People working as part of the EMS system can make anywhere from $30,000 to several hundred thousand per year. EMTs and paramedics, the first roles that come to mind when many people think of EMS, hold up the lower end of the spectrum.

EMTs make approximately $37,300 annually, while paramedics make a median average wage of $49,090 in the United States each year.

While salaries for these roles can vary, the high end of the salary spectrum for the EMS field stems from other roles, such as emergency room (ER) doctors and other staff in the ER department, including nurses. For example, ER doctors make an average of $368,572, while ER registered nurses (RN) make approximately $120,870 annually.

Factors Affecting EMS Salaries

As in many industries, salaries for employees working in EMS can vary dramatically based on various factors. Multiple factors can contribute to the number you see on each paycheck, from geographical location to employer setting.


The geographical location contributes to salaries for EMTs, paramedics, and other EMS employees. Wages often fluctuate from one location to another due to varying living demands for services and similar factors.

Generally, metropolitan areas pay more than their rural counterparts, often because of the steeper cost of living and demand for EMS due to the sheer number of people bustling throughout the streets. For example, EMTs make the most in Washington, New York, Vermont, and California, particularly in the busiest cities, raking in wages that top the average by over 20%.


The certifications you hold also affect the salary you’ll take home each year. For example, EMTs often get paid less than paramedics, as the former requires less schooling than the latter.

Or, if you have a specific specialty in another role, such as a critical care certification as a nurse, you might get paid more than someone who doesn’t have it. It’s important to remember that your certifications are simply a piece of the puzzle, and while they contribute to the number on your paychecks, other factors tie into that number.


As in most professions, experience is a core contributing factor in EMS wages. As you continue working in the field, you’ll hone your knowledge, expertise, and skills, advancing each through hands-on experience. Generally, EMTs and paramedics with more experience earn higher wages, although this can vary from one employee to the next.

Employer Setting

EMTs, paramedics, and other EMS employees can work for various organizations. Fire departments, government agencies, ambulance companies, hospitals, and similar organizations may hire them. Since the size and financial resources of the employer can vary based on their type and setting, wages can vary based on this factor, too.

EMS Salaries: Dependent on You and Your Role

Salaries for EMS in the United States can vary dramatically based on multiple factors, including your position, certifications, experience, and employer. It’s important to remember that each contributing factor is simply a piece of the puzzle, so your wages might look drastically different than someone else in a similar position in a different location or experience level.