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Career Q&A: Paramedic

In Demand: Careers in Health Care, Career Voyages, U.S. Dept. of Labor

What will I do?

Working closely with emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics manage the health of patients until they can be examined by a doctor to get further help. On any shift, their patients might be a woman having a heart attack, a man who broke a bone in a car accident and a child struggling to breathe.

First paramedics check the patient’s overall condition. Then they work quickly to stabilize the patient by stopping bleeding or giving fluids into the patient’s vein or using tools to restore a heartbeat. Both paramedics and EMTs follow set rules for medical care.

Paramedics work both indoors and outdoors. Because health care must be available 24 hours of every day and doesn’t stop when a work shift ends, paramedics may spend 45 to 60 hours a week on the job.

What training do I need?

Usually a paramedic student first becomes an EMT. An EMT has between 110 and 400 hours of training, a paramedic has 1,00 hours or more. A paramedic student must be able to handle the physical parts of the job. Also, they may be registered or certified through different groups.

How will I get training?

Paramedic training is offered at many places, such as community colleges, hospitals, technical schools and fire and police academies. Some programs are designed to be part of the schooling for a bachelor’s degree of science, or EMT and paramedic training may be rolled into one program.

How much will I be paid?

Most paramedic jobs pay between $20,000 and $33,200. Paramedics who were paid a salary in the lowest 10% of wages for this work received about $15,500; those paid among the highest got about $42,000.

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