Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics: Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Stan T.Career, Overview

Emergency Medical Technicians

Emergency Medical Technicians assess injuries, administer emergency medical care, and extricate trapped individuals. Transport injured or sick persons to medical facilities.

Becoming One
Post-secondary certificate
Job Satisfaction
Job Growth

Interest Match

Job description

Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics assess injuries, administer emergency medical care, and extricate trapped individuals. Transport injured or sick persons to medical facilities.

  • Administer first aid treatment or life support care to sick or injured persons in prehospital settings.
  • Operate equipment, such as electrocardiograms (EKGs), external defibrillators, or bag valve mask resuscitators, in advanced life support environments.
  • Perform emergency diagnostic and treatment procedures, such as stomach suction, airway management, or heart monitoring, during ambulance ride.
  • Observe, record, and report to physician the patient’s condition or injury, the treatment provided, and reactions to drugs or treatment.
Read more about what does an Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic really do at work and what is it like being and working as one.


Average salary
$37760 per year

Average hourly wage
$18 per hour

Emergency Medical Technicians with little to no experience tend to make between $22760 and $27300 while the more experienced ones can earn over $44640 per year.

Top 5 paying states Hourly Annual
WA $33 $67,600
DC $28 $57,270
HI $26 $54,370
MD $24 $49,490
AK $23 $47,780

One of the easiest ways to increase your salary as an Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic is to move to a higher paying state like WA. Right now, the highest paying states for Emergency Medical Technicians are WA, DC, HI, MD and AK.

However, a higher pay at WA doesn’t guarantee that you will make more because the living expenses at WA might be twice as high than where you are currently at now.

Three other factors that can increase your salary as an Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic is the degree you hold, the industry you work in, and lastly the company you work for.


Recommended degree level
Post-secondary certificate

We asked other Emergency Medical Technicians what degree they had when they got the job and most of them said they had a Post-Secondary Certificate followed by a College Certificate.

Other than that, we also asked them what did they major in and here are the most popular majors that came up.

Emergency Medical Technology/Technician (EMT Paramedic)
Read more about how to become an Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic and the degree, training and education you need.

Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of being an Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic.

Suitable for people who likes to help and teach others
Suitable for people who values relationships between co-workers and customers and wants to work in a friendly non-competitive environment
This career is perfect for people who love to work both indoors and outdoors.
It is not too difficult to get into this career. Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.
Not suitable for people who likes to work with designs
One of the lowest paying jobs
Long working hours (More than 40 hours per week)

What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Is this job meaningful

63% of Emergency Medical Technicians said they were satisfied with their job and 79% said they feel like their job is making other people’s lives better.

Tommy Pederson

I’m a licensed EMT-B, the people in ambulances!

I’d say being an EMT-B is best described as being the most boring and most thrilling job in the world at the same time. Most of the time you’re working, you’re doing dull tasks like just transporting somebody who has a slight respiratory infection to the hospital. But then, there are always those times you get those calls where you’re called to save someone’s life and your full attention will be captured.

My key responsibilities as an EMT-B are getting people to the hospital and stopping them from immediate death. Physicians do the work of diagnosing the patient and giving them follow-up care, my job is to stop this guy from going to the afterlife and bringing him to the doctor in one piece.

That’s why this job can be so thrilling. For instance, you might get a call of gun shot wounds and that’s all you know. Suddenly, within minutes this person’s life is in your hands and it is your job to save him. I’d say there isn’t a job more rewarding- here’s why:

You show up to that gun shot wound scene. That guy’s family is in tears screaming, they are worried they are going to lose their son. You quickly get to work, tourniqueting his arm stopping arterial bleeding, patching his chest to stop allowing airflow into his chest from the gunshot that is stoping his breathing, and giving him oxygen.

Suddenly, their son that was about to die is in stable condition. Without your help as an EMT there, he would’ve been dead within minutes. Now this family is thanking you and crying tears of joy as you close the doors of your ambulance and bring him to the nearest trauma center.

When that family and patient are in their darkest moment, you are there to bring them out of it. There is no job more impactful because you literally just saved a life, and that’s something you only get one of.

Like I said, my whole job description is “Emergency Medical Technician”- I know emergency medical information to specifically intervene in emergency situations. I don’t do much else than specifically save someone’s life- and that’s why I love it so much. It’s not like a clinic job where I’m just consulting patients all day, I know that when I am called- something serious is going on- and I love that thrill.

Now, most of the job isn’t always crazy scenes like that.

My typical day

Here’s what a typical day looks like.

Typically, you can work 12, 18, or 24 hours shifts. Some places even let you work 48 hour shifts. I like 24 hour shifts.

The best part of this job other than saving lives is that most of the time you’re paid to just watch movies, watch TV, sleep, or play on your phone. I personally work on my website and college while I’m on shift. You literally just sit in a room with a comfy couch, refrigerator, and more until your tones drop and you rush to the ambulance. That’s right, you’ll be in that place for 24 hours, so you can sleep 8 hours- get no calls- and have been literally paid to sleep! There are not really any other jobs like that.

I come from a more rural area, so when we get calls it can really be anything. Typically, we can get 2-4 calls a day that are just transports, literally that- transports. You show up at the patient’s house, talk to them and figure out what’s going on, and you just drive them to the hospital. Most of the time these will be elderly patients who just don’t feel ‘right’ and want to be checked out by a physician. Typically, these calls are pretty simple, you put them on some oxygen and bring ’em to the doc- and that’s all. Those kinds of calls are actually really common in the EMS field, and really most of your patient interactions will be just transports. And honestly, nothing is wrong with that- you get to talk with the patient and learn a lot about them. It’s a job that really allows you to interact with the community and make a difference.

But then, you get those serious calls. Suddenly, you have paramedics coming to the scene too and you’ve been told to drive Code 3/ Lights & Siren. This is where that real ‘thrill’ of the job comes in. Most of the time you will have NO IDEA what you’re walking into, and you’ll have to make a plan quick. I think that’s a reason I really love the job, it’s almost like you have to solve a brand new puzzle or riddle every call- no two calls are really the same.

Now you’re again dealing with that serious call that you’re making a huge impact and trying to stop death as well as you can. Sometimes, it’s not always possible- but not everybody can do the job you do. It’s a job meant for people with tough skin, quick thinking skills, and those that really succeed under pressure. These ‘high priority’ calls aren’t as common in a rural area, perhaps we get 1-2 calls a day usually, but the big ones are usually 2-3 times a week. In a city setting, you may be dealing with these higher priority calls more often as there are often more traffic accidents and gunshot/stabbing involved crimes.

One of the best things about this job is that you’re not really in an ‘office’ all day. You have a mobile office (your ambulance) and you’ll often be out on foot walking around the place you’re called to. I have never been one that likes to just sit in one place all day, and being an EMT allows me to go all around the county/state (depending on if neighboring counties need help) and you really get to move a lot on the job. You’re always exploring new places and traveling on the job. Plus if you like driving, it’s a lot more fun when everybody has to move out of your way!


  • Get paid to sleep, eat, watch TV/movies in between calls.
  • You’ll typically have 4-5 free days a week. (You typically work 24-hour shifts, so you only work 2-3 days a week instead of 5)
  • You directly save lives and make a huge impact on families.
  • It’s probably the job with the most thrill in the world, there aren’t other jobs that will make you get that adrenaline surge like being an EMT/firefighter/law enforcement will.
  • You make a difference in the community.
  • You get to interact with tons of different people every day and learn their stories. (This is a great job if you’re a social person!)
  • You often get tons of discounts at places. (Most places offer a 10% EMS/FF/Law enforcement/Military discount)
  • You don’t spend all day in an office, you’re traveling the area your jurisdiction is.
  • It’s challenging and creative, no two calls are really the same.


  • It’s a very rapid, high-pressure job, you need to adapt quickly and you don’t get time to think.
  • The job will often require you to decompress or destress after a shift, it’s really exhausting physically and mentally.
  • You have to be prepared to deal with the worst outcomes in some situations, and be ready to help families in their worst moments.
  • It can be a dangerous job as you’re often dealing with places that criminal activity has occurred.
  • It’s not a job that you can just clock out of, you will often get called in on your days off if something serious happened like a 7 car accident with multiple casualties, and you’ll have to drop everything you’re doing and show up.

Advice to aspiring EMTs

I always wanted to be an EMT when I was growing up through high school, so I had to make sure I was prepared.

Thankfully, an EMT course requires no prerequisites or anything, so as long as you’re 18- you can register for an EMT course!

This is a breath of relief for most people. If you haven’t ever done ANYTHING medically related, you can still get into the course and learn. The EMT course expects you to know NOTHING when you come in. So, even if you do take some courses beforehand, it will only refresh your memory. Although be warned- it is a very comprehensive class and it will take a lot of studying every night to learn everything.

However, it certainly will help to take some courses beforehand if you have the chance. Taking Human Anatomy and Physiology in High School or college will be the best way you can prepare for being an EMT. A huge part of being an EMT is being able to correctly identify body parts and where injuries are for your patient care report.

It may also help to volunteer or do a ride-along with your local FIRE/EMS agency. I shadowed a physician and was able to ride with the local Fire Department as a spectator. You can’t interact with patients, but you can see what a lot of it is like. Plus, those firefighters LOVE to teach you how everything in the truck works, how to communicate with the radios and some basic first responder information- like how to care for patients.

Doing things like this will be invaluable when you get to your EMT class. But- if you haven’t taken any classes or anything like that and you want to become an EMT- don’t worry, you’ll be fine!

If you’re considering becoming one, you may want to consider a few things:

  • Are you ready for a different work lifestyle?
  • Are you ready to come in at 2AM on your day off to respond to a serious call?
  • Are you able to work as a team in high intensity situations?
  • Are you able to work with blood, vomit, and other bodily fluids?
  • Are you mentally stable? You will see a lot of death and serious injury, this job is not for the faint hearted.
  • Are you able to be in a danger zone? The job does have its risks.

Is this right for me

Best personality for this career
The Helpers and The Thinkers

You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tends to like working with, communicating with, and teaching people. They like helping or providing service to others..

They also like working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. They like searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Learn more about Emergency Medical Technicians

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