Being a paramedic is a rewarding career that will give you the opportunity to change the lives of people on a daily basis. This career path has an expected 33% job growth rate by 2020, but it is going to be quite the demanding job.
You’ll be expected to put in long hours training, you’ll have to stay physically fit because there may be times when you need to lift people. On top of all that, you have to have the mental capacity to stay calm in some pretty stressful situations.
If you think you have what it takes and you want to become a paramedic, then keep reading!
To be a paramedic, you will have to take classes beyond your high school education. The courses you’ll want to focus on will be related to the field, which includes anatomy and physiology.
As you progress through the paramedic training, you can then tack on biology courses as well. When you have these courses under your belt, or have a BA, you’ll have better chances of getting into this career.
Not only must you have the educational background, but you should also have a clean record. You’ll be required to pass a background check to prove that you have no felonies, you don’t have a drug problem, or have any other questionable marks that would block your chances of becoming a paramedic.
Oh, and you have to be 18 years old, as well.
Getting Certifications And Training
Paramedics are health professionals who treat a wide variety of patients in advanced life support. Here is a guide for those who are interested in understanding what qualifications, competencies and tasks are expected of the paramedic.
Once you’ve met all of those qualifications, you need to be CPR certified. This is a requirement to enroll in an EMT-Basic class; however, there are some EMT courses where CPR certification is included. It would be in your best interest to double check with the EMT instructor. If it isn’t included, you can go to a variety of places such as:
- checkRed Cross
- checkAmerican Safety and Health Institute
- checkAmerican Heart Association
- checkWilderness Medical Associates
Tip: If you have the American Heart Association Healthcare Provider Card, you will have better chances of gaining entry to a paramedic program.
To become a paramedic, you will need your EMT basic certification. There are four levels of EMT:
- arrow-rightEMR (Emergency Medical Responder) – You’re a First Responder
- arrow-rightEMT-B (Emergency Medical Technician Basic) – Certification that is referred as EMT
- arrow-rightAEMT (Advanced Emergency Medical Technician) – Also known as an Intermediate
- arrow-rightEMT-P This is a Paramedic
To get your EMT-B, you can attend a community college and take their EMT-B courses. These classes will usually cost between $500 to $900 and they can be completed in 3 to 6 months. Some classes will require that you do a ride-along with practicing paramedics.
Fun Fact: There are some communities where you get reimbursed for your training, where there are other cases where a service will pay for your training.
Taking The Test
Once you’ve completed your course work, you will then have to take the National Registry EMT-Basic Exam. This exam is taken on the computer and it adapts to your skill level.
The test will automatically adjust the difficulty of the questions based on your ability to answer previous questions correctly. The point of this type of exam is to establish how well you know the material.
Another part of the exam is a “Hands On” portion, so it would be in your best interest to practice EMT skills until you can confidently perform those skills for the EMT-B exam.
Optional: EMT-B Experience
Before becoming a paramedic, you may want to consider getting some EMT-B experience. Once you get this experience, you can continue training as an EMT Intermediate (if your state recognizes this), or go directly to becoming a paramedic.
If you do go the Intermediate route, you’ll do similar work as you are currently doing. However, if you go directly to training as a paramedic, you should be aware that some schools will mandate that you present documentation of the calls you’ve responded to.
It would be in your best interest to keep list of the calls and classify each one according to the problem (cardiac, trauma, respiratory, and so on). When you are asked to appear for an interview, review your list and focus on your qualifications.
Enrolling In Paramedic School
Most technical schools and community colleges will have a paramedic program where you will receive an associate’s degree. During the program, you will spend about 2 years (or 1,300 hours) training, and the tuition will vary from school to school, but they can cost as much as $15,000 before the cost of books.
Note: If you are currently working with your local fire department as an EMT-B or a firefighter, you may be able enroll in these courses on their dime.
As you continue your training, you will need to pass classes such as:
- plusTake an Intravenous Injection (IV) course and get certified
- plusTake an Echocardiogram (EKG) Interpretation course
- plusTake Advenced Human Anatomy and Physiology course
- plusGet certifiend in Advanced Cardiac Life Support, Pediatric Advanced Life Support, Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support
- plusGet training to drive an ambulance (about 8-hours)
Note: Some schools will have times designated in the curriculum for these certifications.
Take and Pass The National Registry Exam
In the final step of becoming a paramedic, you are going to have to take a National Registry Exam, which features a written portion and a practical portion.
Every state requires their paramedics to be licensed, but your state may also require you take the state level exam. We recommend looking at your state’s requirements so you understand the actual process.
Wanting to become a paramedic is a noble quest, but you will need to take a lot of courses for training. However, once you’ve completed those courses, you’ll find yourself on an exciting and rewarding career path in the medical field.