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The Difference Between an EMT and Paramedic

Updated on August 2, 2014

EMT vs Paramedic

People around the country use the terms EMT and Paramedic interchangeably, rightfully so in some cases, however there are differences between the two. EMT stands for Emergency Medical Technician. There are two types of EMTs, an EMT-Basic and an EMT-Paramedic.

An EMT-Basic requires approximately 150 hours of training and the course can often be completed within 4-8 months. Their scope of practice is much narrower than that of a Nurse, Physician’s Assistant or MD, however they can give some medications and administer many lifesaving interventions to the critically ill or injured patient.

An <a href="" target="_new">EMT-Paramedic</a> requires between 1000-1600 hours of training and is usually offered as an associate degree at colleges and universities. EMT-Paramedics are still considered EMTs, their scope of practice is broadened slightly and they typically earn more money than the EMT-Basics.

An EMT-Paramedic can be called an EMT, however an EMT-Basic should not be called a Paramedic.

Like most jobs the average EMT salary varies by geographical region and company. As of 2010 the national average for EMTs and paramedics was $30,360 per year. The top 10 percent earned $51,370 and the lowest 10 percent earned $19,710.

There are many factors contributing to EMT salary such as experience, extra training and licensing, as well as management, agency and population. The population does not directly influence your pay but much like firemen there is a higher demand on emergency response crews in highly populated cities. The cost of living is also typically higher as well so as a fair compensation the EMT salary will be higher as well.

While the salaries are competitive between regions, benefits vary depending on the agency or company, private or governments. Remember to consider all the options when searching for jobs and comparing compensation between each.

The large majority of EMTs work with the ambulance services across the country. They respond to any 911 calls, they are often the first people to offer medical attention to an endless variety of situations, ranging from those in critical condition to minor injuries or traumatic experiences. Sometimes the victims are under such circumstances that both theirs and the EMT’s lives are endangered. You will however be trained in greater depth as to what type of danger an EMT would be willing to go through to provide medical attention for victim, the only thing worse than the victim dying would be to have and EMT or other emergency response personnel dying or being critically injured as well, creating another emergency situation. There are safety policies for EMTs to ensure their safety as much as possible.

EMTs can also work in the emergency room at a medical care facility. They have the opportunity to work with nurses, doctors and other medical professionals as part of the team in treating those received by the emergency department. Experienced EMTs are often very good at some tasks that nurses and doctors have less experience with such as starting IVs or intubating patients so they offer certain expertise to the team. They are also trained with basic life saving techniques so their skill set is important for the emergency room. In the hospital setting EMTs are under the advisement and authority of the doctors and nurses.

Life flight <a href="" target="_new">EMTs</a> or Paramedics are a highly sought after position and they are usually the cream of the crop. In order to become part of a life flight team you will need some advanced training, education, certifications (FP-C, CCP-C, CCEMTP) and usually about 5 years of experience. It is also fairly common for nurses to be a part of the life flight team, creating a new type of competition in the field.

Many EMTs work as volunteers in small towns and rural areas, sometimes compensated in some way. This is an excellent opportunity to gain experience and test the field. They only respond to a small number of calls due to small population and incidence rates. It’s also a good way to get front row seating for free at all the local events like football games, rodeos and motor cycle races.

· EMTs need to be able to focus and execute under stress and pressure, sometimes in front of a crowd or inside an ambulance driving at a rapid rate with lights and sirens.

· They need to be able to work well with others and remain calm under difficult circumstances.

· They need to be physically fit and mentally sharp.

Their job is to quickly assess a patient from head to toe and determine the priority interventions so they need to have a good understanding of how the body works and proper intervention. video add

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