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Paramedic programs train students to save patients' lives. Paramedics need more knowledge and skills than emergency management technicians (EMTs). Necessary skills include intubation and resuscitation techniques.

Some schools ask for EMT certification and prerequisite coursework. Certificate programs take one year to complete. Associate programs for paramedics include general education courses. These degrees take up to two years to complete. Program length depends on enrollment status.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for EMTs and paramedics to grow by 6% from 2019-2029. This is faster than the average growth rate for all occupations. The BLS reports that these professionals earn a median annual salary of $35,400. Paramedics need more education and expertise than EMTs, so they earn higher salaries. One way to do that is through vocational and trade school programs.

What Can I Do as a Paramedic?

Paramedics and EMTs work together to provide life-saving emergency services. Job duties include assessing patients' conditions and providing treatment. These professionals also write reports for physicians and nurses. Aspiring paramedics take upper-division courses in human anatomy. They also study typical traumatic injuries and medical conditions and patient assessment.

Completing a paramedic program qualifies graduates to apply for a state-issued paramedic certification. Some states allow qualified medical workers to become paramedics with only some education. Certification candidates may need to pass an exam. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) administers this exam. A background check is often required as well.

Experienced paramedics can advance their careers and salary potential. The next step is usually becoming a physician assistant or medical assistant. These and other related careers need a bachelor's degree or higher. Many top programs offer flexible schedules. This allows learners to continue working while earning a degree.

Accreditation for a Paramedic Program

Students considering programs for paramedics should ensure that each prospective school holds accreditation. The U.S. Department of Education approves six regional accrediting agencies. These agencies assess postsecondary schools in different geographic areas. Colleges and universities must meet high standards to earn regional accreditation .

Some paramedic programs feature a hybrid format, which combines online and on-campus coursework. Schools with online or hybrid programs should hold national accreditation. This accreditation comes from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). This designation demonstrates quality education for both online and on-campus learners.

Top paramedic programs hold programmatic accreditation as well. This comes from private agencies specializing in EMT and paramedic education. NREMT accreditation is one example of programmatic accreditation. Only graduates of NREMT-accredited programs can qualify for certification. The Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs may also verify programs.

FAQ on Paramedic Programs

Q. How many years of college does it take to be a paramedic?

Paramedic programs last 1-2 years. Program length depends on whether the program confers an associate degree or certificate. Factors such as enrollment status also impact graduation time.

Q. What is the difference between a paramedic and an EMT?

EMTs and paramedics work together to save lives. Paramedics need more education than EMTs. Paramedics also qualify to perform advanced life-saving measures.

Q. What does a paramedic do in a day?

Paramedics respond to medical emergencies in ambulances or fire trucks. They also deliver patients to hospitals. These professionals update doctors and RNs about patients' medical conditions. They also provide updates on the treatment patients received before reaching the hospital.

Q. How long is a typical EMT shift?

Shifts last 12-24 hours and can take place overnight and on weekends. EMTs and paramedics restock supplies, perform administrative tasks, and rest between medical emergencies.

What Are the Requirements for a Paramedic Program?

Admission requirements vary between certificate and associate degree programs for paramedics. Certificate programs often need an EMT certification and professional experience. Most programs do not accept learners under the age of 18. Other admissions materials may include FAFSA results and a background check.

Paramedic program curricula usually involve both in-class instruction and hands-on experience. Experiential components let students practice career skills. These may include advanced CPR, cardiac life support, and differential diagnosis. Some programs mandate an internship. Interns work with certified paramedics and other medical professionals.

Courses in a Paramedic Program

Students in associate-level paramedic programs take major and general education courses. The latter emphasize transferable skills, such as communication, writing, and research. Major courses provide the knowledge and training necessary for paramedics' jobs.

Students in paramedic certificate programs often complete the courses below. Certificate coursework builds on knowledge from an initial EMT program. The following sample curriculum does not reflect the requirements of all paramedic programs. Students should contact their prospective school for information on courses and requirements.

  • Paramedic Theory

    This course reviews essential skills that EMTs and paramedics use in the field. Course topics include emergency management services (EMS) systems, IV therapy, and emergency pharmacology. Students also learn how to manage on-the-job stress and to seek services if necessary.

    Learners gain an understanding of paramedics' responsibilities, as well as human development. Degree-seekers prepare to assess patients' needs and administer appropriate treatment. Besides EMT certification, prerequisites may include biology, English, and mathematics classes.

  • Paramedic Practical Skills

    Students often complete this lab and a paramedics theory course in the same semester. During the lab, students practice intubating patients, inserting IVs, and calculating medicine dosages. Learners show their competency by working with manikins, lifelike dummies with anatomical features. Degree-seekers also interpret electrocardiogram results to identify cardiac distress, such as heart attacks.
  • Paramedic Hospital Practice

    Students in their first semester hone both new and existing skills. They assess patients' vitals, administer medications, intubate, and identify life-threatening symptoms. Students work under medical professionals' supervision. They gain advanced technical proficiencies necessary for paramedic jobs. The course usually requires extra fees, such as student liability insurance.
  • Paramedic Field Internship

    Students apply knowledge from their first semester to a field internship later. Learners work in various hospital and clinical settings. They care for patients and practice skills. Interns develop transferable communication and critical thinking skills. Internships entail several prerequisites. Plus, learners may need to pay fees. These fees compensate field supervisors for their time and feedback.
  • Paramedic Hospital Internship

    During their final semester, students spend almost 150 hours working in local hospitals. Learners can prove mastery of knowledge and skills by assisting patients. Students work under supervision at job sites. These may include operating rooms, mental health units, and labor and delivery rooms. Learners pass or fail based on supervisors' feedback. Candidates must have completed most of their paramedic program's coursework. They should have earned at least a "C" grade.

Professional Organizations for Paramedic Majors

Professional organizations for paramedics and students offer job boards, scholarships, and networking events. These organizations may also deliver professional development courses and certifications. These can help paramedics increase their career and salary potential. The following list highlights a few professional organizations for students in paramedics programs.

Students who want to be flight paramedics can join the IAFCCP as associate members. Members receive a subscription to the association's publication, Air Medical Journal. They also get discounts on certification courses. IAFCCP members can also earn a discounted online degree through Columbia Southern University. IAEP affiliates with the Services Employees International Union, IAEP. This labor union supports EMS workers. IAEP advocates for the profession at the local, state, and federal levels. Student members enjoy more than 100 annual scholarship opportunities. They also receive discounts on continuing education programs and reduced life insurance rates. The organization's social media accounts deliver news to keep members up to date. EMTs and paramedics-in-training can join the NAEMT at a low introductory rate. Benefits for student members include discounts on professional development courses. Members often receive discounts on work apparel, gear, and office equipment as well. Other benefits include reduced rates on hotels and car rentals. NAEMT maintains an online career center that features open positions and job-hunting tips. Both EMS offices and individual EMS professionals can join NASEMSO. The association partners with NAEMT to promote positive change in the EMS field. Membership benefits include access to networking opportunities and professional publications. Members also receive an invitation to the annual conference. NASEMSO also maintains a job board featuring open positions throughout the United States.

Scholarships for Paramedic Students

A paramedic program takes less time to complete than a bachelor's degree. Still, these programs mandate a significant financial investment. Private scholarships can help learners reduce or cut their student debt. Many scholarships, including those below, accept applications from aspiring paramedics. Some awards renew yearly as long as recipients remain in good academic standing.

America's 911 Foundation, Inc., Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Practicing first responders and their children qualify for the scholarship. Candidates must submit an essay of 250-500 words. The essay should discuss an inspiring first responder the applicant knows. Learners must apply by March 8, and the foundation notifies recipients in June. Scholarship recipients cannot apply again the following year.
Amount: $2,000

Bound Tree Legacy Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Bound Tree's scholarship serves aspiring firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics. Applicants must have a parent or caregiver working in emergency management services. Candidates submit two recommendation letters and a one-page essay. The application window closes on March 27, and Bound Tree announces recipients on July 6.
Amount: $500-$2,500

California Paramedic Foundation Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The California Paramedic Foundation awards three scholarships at a time. These awards go out 1-2 times each year. In-state EMT and paramedic students can qualify for the awards. The scholarship committee reviews applications on a rolling basis. Prospective applicants can sign up for the foundation's newsletter. This newsletter gives information about application requirements and details.
Amount: Varies

Top Paramedic Programs 2021

  1. City Colleges of Chicago

    Chicago, IL

    MXC developed a five-semester paramedic program in collaboration with the Chicago Fire Department and four Chicago-area hospitals. The 60.5-credit curriculum includes an essentials of paramedic medicine course, a paramedic medicine practicum, and a paramedic medicine field internship. Students also complete general education courses, such as composition and general psychology.

    Career advisors help students research local positions and prepare for job interviews. Learners can access online resources, including guides to writing cover letters and resumes. The college also posts links to external job-hunting websites, and students can research internship opportunities through the Career Network website.

    Prospective students should hold an Illinois EMT certification and complete prerequisite undergraduate coursework in chemistry, general biology, and anatomy. Applicants also undergo an interview process. The CCC Foundation awards scholarships to learners studying at any City Colleges of Chicago campus.

  2. Sinclair Community College

    Dayton, OH

    Practicing EMTs researching programs for paramedics can consider Sinclair's one-year technical certificate program. The curriculum comprises 33-34 credits, including courses in applied anatomy and physiology, a paramedic lecture, and a field experience. The program adheres to Ohio Division of Emergency Medical Services guidelines and prepares students to pass the national certification exam.

    Certificate-seekers can schedule one-on-one career advising appointments. Learners can also access Career Connection, an online platform that helps students explore career goals and create a custom plan for job success.

    Admission requirements include an Ohio EMT certification, college-level English prerequisites or ACCUPLACER results, and a criminal background check. Prospective learners also submit proof of immunizations. Sinclair charges a competitive per-credit tuition rate to in-district and in-state students. Learners can explore the latest institutional scholarships on the college's website.

  3. Central New Mexico Community College

    Albuquerque, NM

    Based in Albuquerque, CNM offers a paramedic program . Students in the program earn a degree in emergency medical services with a paramedic concentration. Program requirements include an EMT basic theory course, a paramedic lab, and two clinical experiences. During the final capstone course, learners prepare for the National Registry Paramedic Certification Exam.

    The college offers online career services, including information about employment workshops, academic coaching, and networking and hiring events. Virtual career resources for paramedic degree-seekers include resume outlining and formatting guides. Learners can also access video presentations that cover topics such as essential interviewing skills and creating a persuasive LinkedIn profile.

    Admission requirements include a criminal background check, a drug screen, and high school or college transcripts. The program requires completed prerequisite coursework in mathematics, reading, and writing. Students can apply for institutional financial aid by submitting their FAFSA results; some CNM scholarship opportunities require a separate application.

  4. Ivy Tech Community College

    Indianapolis, IN

    Indiana residents researching degree-granting paramedic schools can consider ITCC. The community college offers a 66.5-credit AAS in paramedic science program. Learners in the program study clinical applications, anatomy and physiology, and patient assessment techniques. Each course lasts eight weeks, and graduation requirements include a two-part ambulance internship.

    ITCC offers career development resources for students and alumni, including career exploration guides, resume and cover letter critiques, and mock interviews. The college also compiles data on job market trends and information about professional development opportunities. Learners can improve their job prospects by attending on-campus networking events and job fairs.

    Applicants submit high school transcripts and may need to take placement tests and complete undergraduate prerequisites. All Indiana residents pay the same low per-credit tuition rate. Incoming students can only submit their FAFSA results to apply for institutional scholarships and aid.

  5. Florida State College at Jacksonville

    Jacksonville, FL

    FSCJ designed its paramedic program for students without an EMT certification or professional experience. The curriculum includes paramedic labs, clinical experiences, and courses in human anatomy and physiology. Learners select at least one elective, such as the principles of management or management of emergency medical services.

    The college's career development resources include workshops, events, and individual advising sessions. Students can access a career resource library and resume reviews. Learners can also view career videos and explore links to external job-hunting websites.

    Applicants to the paramedic program take a drug screen and provide high school transcripts or GED scores. Candidates must also pass a criminal background check. FSCJ accepts scholarship applications three times each year, and learners applying for financial aid submit an essay and one recommendation letter.

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