If you want an in-depth guide on EMT salary this 2019, you’ve come to the right place. Being an EMT or Emergency Medical Technician is no doubt a tough but high-paying job. It’s also fulfilling for those who want a job that makes a difference in the life of others.
An EMT’s salary is made up of a number of factors that determine how much they make. Factors such as experience and certification level as well as the work area and total working hours all play a part. As per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for EMTs is $32,670 per year or $15.71 per hour while the average hourly salary ranges from $10.03 to $26.49.
Basic EMT Salary in CA and Other States
California’s EMT salary is higher than the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the national annual salary for the job is $34,000. While in California, the median salary for EMTs is $36,490. Salaries in California vary depending on where in the state you’re working.
EMT Advanced Salary and Pay Levels
If you’re aiming for an EMT advanced salary pay level, you need to know what it takes to get there.
EMT pay levels are further categorized into the following: first responders, EMT-basic, EMT-intermediate, and EMT Paramedic. Each one nets their own pay level because of the different responsibilities required for the job.
If you’re just starting out, the basic EMT salary in terms of hourly rate for each is as follows:
- EMT — $13.14 per hour
- EMT-Basic — $12.38 per hour
- Paramedic — $17.91 per hour
- Patient Care Technician — $12.70
Looking at the EMT advanced salary percentile bracket here, it shows that the top 10% are earning in upwards of $55,000 a year or $26.49. Further down the bracket, the top 25% are earning $42,150 annually or $20.27 per hour while the top 50% are earning $31,980 a year or $15.38 hourly.
On the other hand, the lower 25% are only making about $25,490 annually or $12.25 per hour while the lower 10% earns about $20,860 annually or $10.03 hourly.
Paramedic vs EMT Salary
Comparing paramedic vs EMT salary, we can glean that being a paramedic pays more than an EMT. Paramedics make around $40,000 a year but can earn as high as $70,000. While starting EMTs get an average pay of about $33,000 a year and long-time EMTs earn about $51,000 annually.
What EMTs Do
Working as an EMT entails long working hours and usually involves life and death situations. Their job responsibilities include caring for the sick and attending to the injured during accidents or emergencies. To be one, you need to be able to quickly respond to the matter at hand. Since people’s lives are on the line, a quick and competent response is no doubt crucial.
As previously mentioned, EMTs have various certification levels and even for those classified as EMT-Basic, they still need a lot of essential skills in order to thrive in the job. Many advanced medical practitioners such as doctors, paramedics, and nurses have built their foundational medical skills either through EMT education or as a way of building on their work experience.
The path to being an EMT requires that you complete the requisite education required for the job. This means taking an EMT course from any accredited university in the country. These courses usually span anywhere from 120 to 150 hours while paramedic track requires an investment of 1,200 to 1,800 hours.
Both the EMT and paramedic courses incorporate different learning modes such as hands-on skills training, lectures, and field or clinical internships, just to name a few. In the EMT course, you’ll learn basic to advanced skills such as CPR, first aid, and glucose administration, among others. However, EMTs don’t do procedures that require breaking the skin save for a few exceptions such as when administering auto-injections for allergic reactions.
For the paramedic course, it requires longer hours because they have to be well-versed in subjects such as cardiology, anatomy, medications, physiology, as well as other essential medical procedures.
How to Become an EMT
The requirements of becoming an EMT varies on a number of things depending on the state. But on the whole, there are about four steps you have to go through in order to become an EMT or paramedic. For instance, in California, you must first be able to meet the eligibility requirements as well as the other prerequisites before being allowed to take a paramedic or EMT course.
An example of one of the eligibility requirements includes being at least 18 years of age, having a high school diploma or any degree that’s equivalent. It’s also imperative that you have a clean criminal record in order to be considered. More than just the formal training, excellent color vision as well as eyesight. Being physically fit is also required for this position since you may have to move and lift people frequently.
These requirements vary from school to school so make sure to confirm with your school of choice before applying. There might also be some additional requirements in terms of grades or other medical factors aside from the ones mentioned above.
Once you have the general requirements down pat, you then have to finish an accredited paramedic or EMT course. The next best step would be to pass the exams to be an EMT or paramedic. However, you have to be first an EMT with a minimum of six months experience before pursuing a career as a paramedic. While the EMT exam is done on a national level, the paramedic test is computer based. If you pass the exam, you then have to apply for certification within two years of finishing your course.
More Info About EMT Levels
- EMT-Basic Training — This is considered the entry-level when you want to become an EMT. Training courses at this stage usually require around 100 hours. Some of the responsibilities that come at this level include attending to respiratory and cardiac emergencies, major disasters, and road accidents. A few of the basic skills required involve knowing how to stop bleeding, manage trauma, and assess patients, to name just a few. You’ll also be required to hold a certification in CPR at this level as well.
- EMT-Intermediate Training — This level is further subdivided into the 1985 and 1999 classifications. Being at this rank would require anywhere from 30 to 350 hours of training. that include both clinical and classroom instructions. You’ll be learning more in-depth measures of assisting and caring for patients which involve intravenous treatment, medication administration, and trauma management among others. Most often than not, you’ll also be required to complete an internship.
- EMT-Paramedic Training — This is considered as the highest level for an EMT. It can take around two years to complete and can then be advanced to an associate’s degree or certificate. The training for an EMT-paramedic, such as the associate’s degree, often combines emergency-specific modules with general education courses. Other core modules that are part of the training also include psychology, emergency service management, and medical terminology, among others. Additionally, there will also be clinical practicums and field training involved as part of the training.
- Certification and License — Once you’ve completed your training program, the next best step is to take a certification or license. Before you can go and take a job, you still have to pass the NREMT Certification Exam. There are, however, some states that have their own licensing exams that you take in lieu of NREMT. Although they still accept the results should you pass the NREMT Certification Exam, once you take it, you’ll have to pass a separate exam for every level. Aside from the written test, you also have to take a practical and a competency test. After passing, you have to renew your certification every two to three years.
Side Jobs as EMT and Overtime Info
As of 2014, one in three EMTs has reported that they work more than the standard 40 hours a week. Although the exact cap or limit of overtime work varies, almost all agencies give 1.5 more for the usual rate compared to work done during the 8-hour shift. It might seem like it’s not much but cumulatively, EMTs can easily double their salary when they take overtime shifts. Some report earning as much as $200K due to overtime. If you’re a paramedic, you can even make more than a mayor of a city for regular overtime work.
If you have a family and want to supplement your income as an EMT, there are various ways of doing so. Some related to jobs in the EMT field that you can easily get into include being a trainer and emergency service teacher. There are also other opportunities online and offline looking for expert insights related to the field.
With the above info, you’ll no doubt find that an EMT job provides a lot of opportunities doing other things as well. Because of its higher than average overtime rate, it has a high job satisfaction rate besides from being very fulfilling to do. Now that’s killing two birds with one stone!
EMT Pay Based on State
Depending on what state you’re located in, your pay is bound to be affected. There are about four wage brackets when it comes to EMT Pay. The lowest bracket is the $21,750 to $31,000 range while the next range is from $31,080 to $33,250. After that, the next range is from $33,690 to $37,370 and at the upper range is anywhere from $37,410 to $59, 010.
The states in the lowest bracket are as follows: Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Alabama, to name just a few. On the next bracket are the following states: Wyoming, Utah, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, among others. For the 2nd to the highest pay bracket, it includes states such as Idaho, Nebraska, Arizona, and Los Angeles, to mention just a few. The states with the highest EMT pay bracket is New York, Oregon, Nevada, and California (not the full list).
The reason for the mentioned pay bracket above is that cities with a higher standard of living usually have higher salary rates as well. Moreover, larger and more populated cities make for busy EMT work due to the constant activities happening.
Upgrading Your Skills and Pay
If you’re just starting out as an EMT and want to level up your skills and pay, there are a few sure ways to do that. The first thing is to continue your Emergency Medical Services education. As mentioned above, pay raise often factors in your training level as well as your EMT role designation. The highest paid of which is the paramedic.
Although EMTs usually earn anywhere from $30,000 to $51,000 a year, being a paramedic can level up your salary to the $40,000 to $70,000 a year range or $17 per hour. The transition will require additional training to be a paramedic and can take at least a year or two at most. The training period requirement will depend on your state’s licensing requirements.
Before you undergo the additional training as a paramedic, make sure you research what agency you want to work for. Salary rates also differ depending on what agency you’re working for. And some are bound to pay higher than others. For instance, private ambulance companies are known to have one of the lowest pays. In return, they are more eager to hire newbies and those without much experience. This is definitely not a bad way to get started as many begin their careers by working for private ambulance companies.
Wherelse to apply as an EMT?
Government companies often pay the highest salaries for an EMT. This includes fire departments and state ambulance services, to name just a few. The only drawback is that it’s extremely competitive to get into the said agencies. In order to have a fighting chance of being considered, you have to have some additional education requirements under your belt.
Another place you can apply to is hospitals. Many use EMTs instead of nurses when transporting patients or providing critical care. In terms of salary, the pay range is around mid to upper bracket.
Although being an EMT won’t necessarily make you rich, it can provide a decent living for you and your family. This is on top of having a meaningful job that helps you make a difference in other people’s lives.
EMT Basic Job Description
Most EMT job descriptions will include responsibilities such as responding to emergency situations and working in an ambulance. For entry-level EMTs (called EMT-Bs), they usually work with intermediate and advanced level EMTs in times of emergencies.
The only task exception that EMT-Bs aren’t required to do is administer extensive medical care. This would be the purview of higher level EMTs as they’re better trained and experienced for it. What they do instead is perform basic medical necessities such as taking vital statistics, create splints for broken bones, administer oxygen, and bandage wounds, among others. For EMT-Bs’ complete list of responsibilities, feel free to check out this pdf file on the NY Government site.
Starting out as an EMT-B means finishing at least high school level before being accepted into training. Due to the nature of work hours can vary and shifts can sometimes extend to as much as 12 hours.