Paramedic vs EMT – Differences | Choosing a Career Path

What’s the difference between an EMT and a paramedic? This article explains this in detail.

EMTs and paramedics are good examples of two distinct healthcare careers that closely work together.

To clearly understand what each is about, we’ll need to compare both to identify areas of similarities and differences. All you have to do is tag along as we discuss these.

EMT vs. Paramedic

The healthcare industry has many trained professionals collaborating to offer quality healthcare.

Sometimes, their work’s collaborative nature brings confusion with proper identification of what each is about. If you’re new to this industry, it’s common to experience such confusion.

Who’s an EMT?

What are ambulance workers called? EMTs

An EMT is short for the emergency medical technician. This first responder is trained in providing emergency medical care to the critically ill and injured.

As expected, EMTs are always the first to arrive at a crisis, such as a natural disaster, an accident, a fire, or a medical emergency.

An EMT works with national and international emergency medical teams to improve the timeliness and quality of health services.

Also known as ambulance technicians, EMTs primarily work in ambulances. By supporting local health systems, EMTs play critical roles in promoting healthcare.

Who’s a Paramedic?

Paramedics are registered healthcare professionals that specialize in emergency treatment.

These professionals respond to emergency call-outs, giving people life-saving medical attention while conveying them to the nearest healthcare facilities.

While most paramedics perform or carry out out-of-hospital treatment, some may perform the hospital-based intervention.

Mostly, the two definitions of EMTs and paramedics sound similar. However, further discussion will provide details on how they differ.

Paramedics versus EMTs

As mentioned earlier, the comparisons to be made will show areas of similarity as well as differences between EMTs and paramedics.

These points give you a much better idea of what these medical professions are about.

Here, the points of comparison include duties & responsibilities, education requirements, certification options, and program length. More topics have job growth, salary potential, and work settings.

Let’s find out what each of these points covers for more clarity.

i. Duties & Responsibilities

EMTs and paramedics carry out all kinds of responsibilities essential to providing quality emergency care.

For EMTs, responsibilities include operating essential equipment (defibrillators) to stabilize patients, providing first aid treatment to the injured, and performing emergency procedures like cleaning an airway or arresting bleeding.

EMTs will also examine the nature of illness or injuries to prioritize medical procedures. They drive emergency vehicles (ambulances) to and from an emergency scene.

EMTs will closely observe and record patient conditions and responses to interventions.

More responsibilities of EMTs include coordinating with other first responders like paramedics in devising effective ways to move the patient.

They prepare patients for transfer to the nearest competent medical facility and closely monitor medical inventory or supplies for patient care.

Like EMTs, paramedics have their unique roles. These include coordinating with EMTs and other first responders on decontaminating the ambulance and stocking supplies.

Paramedics operate critical equipment like bag valve mask resuscitators to stabilize the patient.

As a paramedic, you’ll often respond to various medical emergencies ranging from heart attacks to accidents.

These may be due to accidents or natural causes. Paramedics administer drugs as necessary and establish communication with dispatchers on possible routes and destinations.

Upon successfully transporting patients to medical facilities, paramedics report key details like patient status, vitals, and other helpful points to receiving medical professionals.

This guarantees the seamless provision of medical attention.

In some cases, paramedics may perform emergency procedures like airway management or stomach suction. They also instruct EMTs and other professionals on the next steps for patient care.

ii. EMT vs. Paramedic Training & Education Requirements

Training to become an EMT doesn’t require an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

With a GED or high school diploma, you should be able to obtain relevant certifications like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Of course, EMT training will have to be completed. This is offered in vocational schools and community colleges.

Also, passing the National Registry Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) cognitive exam is of primary importance.

Educational requirements for paramedics require completion of training for basic & advanced EMTs. Prospective paramedics are expected to acquire on-the-job experience before joining a training program.

A college degree program for paramedics is also essential.

iii. Certification Options

When it comes to certification, the requirements are similar in some ways.

For EMTs, CPR certification is required.

Also, the NREMT certification is required across most states. You’ll need to be at least 18 years of age and have a driver’s license to take this certification exam.

Like EMTs, paramedics must be at least 18 years of age with a driver’s license and CPR certification. The NREMT certification is required.

Some states may have additional licensure tests for paramedics

iv. Program Length

The duration of a program is essential for a lot of people as they get to assess their time commitments. EMT programs take around 4 to 5 months to complete.

This is much less time than the 16 to 18 months of training needed to complete a paramedic program.

v. Job Growth

Regarding job growth for EMTs, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth of 7% from 2018 to 2028. This is faster than the average for all occupations.

The BLS also projects the same growth rate of 7% for paramedics spanning the same period. However, due to the high population, paramedics should expect higher job growth prospects in urban areas.

vi. Salary Potential

Regarding the salary potential, it’s easy to see which of these professions will receive higher pay.

Because EMTs have less training and responsibilities, their pay is $14.81 per hour. This is higher for paramedics, who receive an average of $19.58 per hour.

vii. Work Settings

EMTs have a more limited scope of practice compared to paramedics.

Governments, private ambulance services, hospitals, and police departments employ them. On the other hand, paramedics get to work in air ambulances, emergency medical services, and ambulance services.

These critical comparisons have highlighted areas of similarity and differences between EMTs and paramedics. You should be able to decide on what career route to take between the two.

You May Also Like