What Is The Difference Between A Paramedic And EMT

Healthcare is much more than doctors and nurses. Whenever you turn on the television, you’ll find some show where there are first responders arrive to some accident or medical emergency. These people are paramedics or EMTS.

Both of these professionals are responsible for providing care for patients who are experiencing some kind of medical or traumatic emergency outside of a hospital setting.

Male And Female Paramedics

Many people confuse the two and think they are one on the same—but they aren’t. This misconception is partially due to mistakes in movies and televisions, but even in the media.

We’re here to tell you the differences between two so the next time you have a medical emergency, you know how to address the responders who come to help. Or, at least have a fun fact for the next time you need to break the ice with someone.

What’s The Difference

The main difference between these two professions is the amount of education they must go through, but also what they are able to do. Both professionals are highly trained individuals, but they aren’t going to be able to provide you with the same level of care.


An EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) will require about 150 hours of education in a classroom setting. This includes numerous hours of externships, and it will also require a certain number of real live-patient assessments (this number will vary from state to state).

You can also do advanced training to become an EMT-I (EMT Intermediate). This requires about another 100 hours of training.

Man And Woman Helping Patient

These individuals can perform basic-level life support to anyone who is hurt and/or injured. This includes functions like:

  • arrow-rightVital signs
  • arrow-rightBandaging/splinting/wound care
  • arrow-rightVehicle rescue
  • arrow-rightFEMA’s Incident Command System training
  • arrow-rightHazMat awareness
  • arrow-rightCPR/Automated Defibrillation
  • arrow-rightArtificial ventilation
  • arrow-rightOxygen administration
  • arrow-rightBasic airway management
  • arrow-rightSpinal immobilization

An EMT-I can do all of the above, but also do IV therapy and Manual Defibrillation.


Paramedics undergo much more training. Every paramedic in the country must undergo 1,000 to 1,200 hours in the classroom participating in a national standard curriculum. Plus, they must have additional internships and field training.

Woman Wearing Paramedic Uniform

Once the paramedic has been licensed, they must maintain specialty classifications such as (but not limited to):

  • angle-rightAdvanced cardiac life support
  • angle-rightPediatric advanced life support
  • angle-rightCritical care paramedic
  • angle-rightCertified flight paramedic

The pre-hospital advanced life support a paramedic can provide include:

  • checkAdvanced airway management
  • checkEndotracheal intubation (breathing tube)
  • checkManual defibrillation and artificial pacemaking
  • checkECG (Electrocardiograph) monitoring
  • checkIV fluid and medication therapy
  • checkAdministration of a various of medications and electromechanical as well as pneumatic ventilation

And much more…

What Does A Critical Care Paramedic Do

A critical care paramedics perform interfacility transports. They are responsible for transporting critically ill patients from one hospital to another facility to receive further care and treatment.

Group Of People On Critical Care Education

These paramedics have an expanded range of functions they can perform, which allows them to administer more medications than a regular paramedic.

These folks are trained in every common aspect of critical care assessment such as pathophysiology, pharmacology, 12-lead ECG interpretation, interpretation of laboratory values, interpretation of routine diagnostic images, ventilator management, aortic balloon pump management, and air medical concepts.

To become a CCP, you will need to have at least 2 years of paramedic experience before you’re allowed to take the critical care courses.

If you haven’t started paramedic schooling, you will need to take the necessary paramedic courses first, which will take about two years to complete. Also, you will have to take the NREMT exam and pass to receive your certification.

What Does A Certified Flight Paramedic Do

A flight paramedic is someone who functions in an aeromedical environment. These medics will work alongside a registered nurse, physician, a respiratory nurse, or another medic. The flight paramedic must have advanced medical knowledge and years of clinical experience in a high acuity setting.

Male Flight Paramedic

You will need to have several years on an advanced life support service to be considered eligible to become a flight medic. Most will spend at least 5 years working for a busy ambulance service in the area they wish to serve. Because the helicopter is only capable of carrying so much weight, air medics must maintain a low weigh limit.

Salary Difference Between Paramedic And EMT

When trying to decide their career path, the salary is often one of the deciding factors, so it’s understandable that you are interested in the average salary for both medical professionals. As a paramedic, you are going to earn more money than an EMT.

On average, a paramedic will earn between $40,000 to $70,000 per year—sometimes more. An EMT, on the other hand, can earn anywhere from $33,000 to $51,000 per year.


With the information we’ve covered in this article, the next time you see a television show or a news broadcast call the first responders an EMT or a paramedic, you’ll be able to know the difference!

In all seriousness, it doesn’t matter if you are fresh out of high school and you’re planning your future, or if you’re looking for a career change, the healthcare field is always going to need professional, compassion people.

EMT Shaking Hands With Elderly Patient

The choice to become an paramedic or EMT isn’t one you should take lightly because this is a career where you will be dealing with sick and/or injured individuals. There may be instances where you will have to provide life-saving care to someone, and you’re going to have to be able to do that while staying calm.

If you believe that this is the career path for you, then you will be able to touch the lives of the individuals you care for. In some instances, you may be saving a life. You’re not going to get rich doing either of these jobs, but both are rewarding on a personal level.




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