Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians are health professionals that play an important role in delivering prehospital medical care. Although these are roles that are often held by those working on ambulances, the majority of firefighters will also possess these certifications.
If you are interested in becoming either an EMT or a paramedic, you may be curious as to how well paid these jobs are. Will you be able to support yourself independently, should you decide to pursue a career in these roles?
Several factors are going to determine how comfortably you can live off an EMT or paramedic salary.
For example, the wages can differ depending on the state in which you are located. Aside from this, it will also be influenced by the lifestyle that you live and how much experience you have in your role.
Below, we have provided you with a guide that will address the roles of a paramedic and an EMT, along with the salaries that they are paid. After reading, you should be fully informed and able to determine whether you will be able to support yourself on such a salary.
What does a paramedic and an EMT do?
An EMT is often referred to as an ambulance technician. They provide emergency care to those who are on the way to a hospital or other medical facility. As well as working on ambulances, they often work alongside air rescue and the fire department.
There are three different types of EMTs to be aware of. The first is an EMT basic, the second is an EMT Advanced and the third is an EMT Paramedic. It is worth noting that certain EMT statuses are not recognized in all states.
EMTs are permitted to provide first aid and basic life support, but they aren’t allowed to administer any treatment that breaks the skin. Of course, there are few situations where exceptions can be made, but generally, they provide less invasive procedures than a paramedic.
An EMT basic responds to emergency calls, ensuring that immediate care is on the way to those in need. After arriving at the scene, they then need to transport the patient to the hospital.
An EMT advanced is trained to provide advanced care as implied by their title. As such, they will be required to provide care using the resources that they have available in the ambulance.
After qualifying as EMTs, many will then progress onto the role of a paramedic. As a paramedic, they will be trained to perform a wider range of medical procedures and will be able to deliver an advanced level of care.
Paramedics can give medication based on their diagnosis of the patient. For example, they may need to administer medication through a more invasive procedure such as giving an intravenous injection, using a defibrillator, dressing wounds, and giving pain relief.
In most instances, EMTs and paramedics will be directly employed by an ambulance company, and although this is the environment that they commonly work in, they can work inside the hospitals too.
What is the hourly salary of an EMT/ paramedic?
The average salary for EMTs is $36,650 a year which equates to approximately $17.62 an hour. For paramedics, this figure is noticeably higher, primarily because they have more training than EMTs. On average, they get paid roughly $43,000 annually which equates to an hourly wage of $20.
It is worth noting that these figures are provided as averages. It can differ between individuals with some making more than this and others making less. For example, the area where you are located can affect your salary.
Those who work inside hospitals are generally paid more than those that work on ambulances. The salary of an ER tech is significantly higher than the salary of an EMT.
On average an ER technician will be paid approximately $63,000 a year, giving them an hourly salary of an estimated $30.
As mentioned previously, the majority of firefighters are also qualified as EMTs or paramedics. As such, they essentially have an added responsibility in regards to the care that they provide. The average salary of an EMT firefighter is just over $48,000 which is around $24 an hour.
The higher level of training that firefighter paramedics provide is reflected in their salary. On average, they are paid around $57,000 which is approximately $28 an hour.
Depending on the title of your role, the amount that you are paid can differ quite considerably. As you can see, the more training and the more qualified that you are, the higher your pay will be.
Where are paramedics and EMTs paid the highest salaries?
Many companies will base the pay of their employees on location. If you are situated in an area where the cost of living is lower you will likely find that you can stretch your earnings further because you aren’t confronted with such hefty expenses.
On the other hand, those that live in areas where the cost of living is higher are going to be paid more to cover these expenses.
Below, we have listed 5 states that are renowned for paying EMTs and paramedics a high salary. You will find that there are noticeable differences depending on the source.
According to Forbes, these medical professionals are paid the most in Hawaii, Washington, Maryland, Alaska, and Connecticut. Although they pay the highest, there are rather considerable differences in these salaries.
For example, whilst the average salary in Hawaii is just over $56,000, it is lower in Connecticut at just over $46,500.
US News states the same except the District of Columbia replaces Connecticut in their top 5 list.
According to ZipRecruiter, the top 5 paying states for EMTs and paramedics are quite different as they list New York, Massachusetts, Washington, New Hampshire, and Hawaii.
Although the highest wage that we have stated is just over $60,000 a year, you will find that there are certain areas where workers are paid more. Of course, living in a location where the cost of living is higher means that your wage needs to accommodate this.
Many people working in this industry may choose to work overtime to give their standard pay a boost. The more overtime hours that you are able to work, the better your pay will be.
Whilst this may not be a lifestyle move that appeals to everyone, those who want to supplement their wage will likely benefit from taking advantage of overtime opportunities.
Why do paramedics and EMTs have low salaries?
Now you may be wondering why EMTs and paramedics are paid so little. Your annual salary will be determined by the company that you work for and where in the country you are based.
As stated, the majority of these workers are employed by private companies who are known to be low payers.
One of the main reasons why EMTs are paid so little is because they do not have to train as intensely as paramedics to qualify. They typically have to invest 120 to 150 hours into training to receive their certification and this is reflected in the amount that they are paid.
Training to become a paramedic takes significantly longer. In fact, it is estimated that applicants will need to dedicate around 1800 hours to their training.
Whilst this is reflected in the slightly higher pay, it still isn’t as much as certain other healthcare professions because they have to train for longer.
You will often find that individuals are willing to train for these roles and receive a low wage for their efforts because they get pleasure out of helping others, as such, they overlook their salary.
Another reason why paramedics and EMTs are paid a low wage is due to a lack of promotion opportunities. As the role primarily involves working on the ambulance, promotions are fairly limited.
Of course, you can become a supervisor or an operations manager but other than that there may not be many areas that you can advance to. Salaries typically tend to increase as you advance in your occupation and get promoted to a job with a higher title.
As a result of this, many people who are looking to begin a career in this field may use either of these roles as a starting point before progressing onto an area of work where they can expect to be paid more.