Keeping a Cool Head and Dealing With Emergencies
As a mom, you’ve learned to keep a cool head in times of crisis, a skill that will serve you well as a paramedic. Paramedics are usually part of the first-responder team who arrives at an accident scene or home health emergency in an ambulance or firetruck. They provide emergency care in a non-hospital setting, including life-saving procedures such as administering medications and performing CPR. College training to qualify as a paramedic can take as little as eight months, depending on the program, but it’s often followed by an internship.
If it’s an emergency or a 911 call, paramedics rush to the scene. Paramedics are often the first responders in emergency situations, assessing the situation, offering immediate treatment, and then taking the person to a clinic or hospital. Paramedics must be cool in a crisis and think quickly. They learn to administer CPR, stop bleeding, insert IVs and use special equipment to bring patients back to life. They also have to be physically strong, since they have to lift patients onto gurneys and into the ambulance, then from the ambulance into the emergency room. The job is physically, emotionally and mentally demanding.
Paramedics usually arrive on the scene in an ambulance, a firetruck or an emergency response helicopter. They typically work outdoors, often for hospitals, fire departments and similar facilities.
To work as a paramedic, you must first earn the required education. To start out, get a high school diploma or a GED (general equivalency diploma).
Next, you’ll usually need to complete an emergency medical technician (EMT) or a paramedic program. In an EMT program, you learn emergency skills, how to maintain basic emergency equipment, and how to manage respiratory emergencies and trauma. Paramedic training is a little more advanced. Look for a program at your local community college or vocational college. It’s likely to take anywhere from eight months to two years, depending on your state. Be sure that the program is accredited by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians so that you can be eligible to sit for the licensing exam for paramedics. Some colleges offer a bachelor’s degree in paramedic training. Some candidates who take the paramedic licensing test hold a master’s or even a law degree.
The licensing exam includes both the written and practical exams, and you have to pass both to become licensed as a paramedic. States differ as to whether these exams are run by the state or the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.
The median annual pay for a paramedic in the United States is $40,956. That means that half of the paramedics in the country earn more than this, while half earn less. The difference in salary between paramedics who hold only a high school diploma or technical certificate and those with an AA degree is only about $400 a year. Those with a bachelor’s degree may earn some $500 more than those with an AA degree. Those with a master’s earn $400 more than a bachelor’s, while those with a law degree or Ph.D. earn about $400 more.
Industries in Which Paramedics Work
Paramedics work for fire departments, the U.S. National Park Service, hospitals or private ambulance or rescue companies. Private firms that hire paramedics include American Medical Response, Acadian Ambulance Service Incorporated, EMS Group, AMR Corp, REMSA, Lifeguard Ambulance and HCA, Inc.
Years of Experience
When you are first setting out as a paramedic, you can earn $38,585 to $40,956; with three or four years’ experience, you can expect to earn $39,708 to $42,407. After seven years, you may earn $40,520 to $43,517, which remains the mean salary even after 20 years.
It’s worth noting that salaries in some cities are considerably higher. Paramedics in San Francisco, CA, for example, earn more than $50,000 a year.
Job Growth Trend
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for a paramedic job over the next decade is good, with fewer volunteers in the field. This means that there will be increased need for highly trained and certified paramedics. Job growth over the next 10 years is expected to be much higher than average, at 15 percent.
From Alaska to California, from France's Basque Country to Mexico's Pacific Coast, Teo Spengler has dug the soil, planted seeds and helped trees, flowers and veggies thrive. World traveler, professional writer and consummate gardener, Spengler earned a BA from U.C. Santa Cruz, a law degree from Berkeley's Boalt Hall, and an MA and MFA from San Francisco State. She currently divides her life between San Francisco and southwestern France.