Paramedic vs. EMT

Paramedic vs. EMT

Find out the difference between Paramedic vs. EMT in our guide below.

While often being used interchangeably, paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are not the same thing. There are some similarities between paramedics and EMTs, but when you get down to it, they are completely different careers. However, both are valiant careers that help our communities greatly.

When comparing paramedics vs. EMTs, you have to look at all aspects of their careers. From education to job responsibilities and day-to-day schedules, the two careers are quite different from each other.

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Similarities Between Paramedics and EMTs

Though they are different careers, there are still some similarities between paramedics and EMTs. Here are some of the ways the jobs are similar to one another.

Response to 911

Both paramedics and EMTs are sent to scenes by 911 operators and often work alongside firefighters and police officers. However, what they can do once they arrive on the scene varies when looking at the job responsibilities of paramedics vs. EMTs.

Schooling and Certifications

While paramedics are required to take many more hours of training to receive certification, both paramedics and EMTs take similar classes to be considered for certification. Both must study anatomy and physiology heavily. They also both are certified in basic first aid practices and CPR administration, which must be renewed every two years. Both paramedics and EMTs are required to renew their certification with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT).

On-Site Care

Though paramedics have much more schooling compared to EMTs, both have basic skills that help them do what is needed when they arrive at a scene. Both are able to administer CPR to a patient as well as bandage open wounds and do all they can to stop bleeding.

Job Growth

Both EMT and paramedic jobs are expected to increase by 7% from now to 2028. This increase is likely from day-to-day crises—from car accidents to natural disasters—and growth in the elderly population who needs caring for.

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Difference Between EMT and Paramedic

There are some similarities between being an EMT and a paramedic but the difference between EMTs and paramedics are much more numerous.

Required Schooling, Training, and Certifications

There is a vast difference between the training needed to become a paramedic vs an EMT, but the main difference is the length of schooling.

EMT Paramedic
No prerequisites to becoming an EMT, but classes like anatomy and statistics or certifications like CPR may be required.

Classes like anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and more are required before becoming a paramedic. Most paramedic programs require EMT training.

EMTs may need basic first aid (to know how to help in the case of medical emergencies like heart attacks and obstructed airways) and will learn these skills with mostly hands-on training at medical facilities, community colleges, or technical institutes.

Paramedics will be trained on how to handle large-scale emergencies that require the administration of medications, insertion of an IV, or other skills that require the use of medical tools. They also learn these practices mostly through hands-on training.

EMT training hours will normally range from 120 to 150 hours, which takes about a year to complete. Advanced EMTs take about 400 hours of training and may take a two-year path. They can get the credential of Advanced EMT (AEMT) or Emergency Medical Responder (EMR).

Paramedic training ranges from 1,200 to 1,800 hours to complete. While it is usually gained over two years, paramedics typically leave training with an associate’s degree.

EMTs in training will participate in ride-alongs with practicing EMTs where they see the job in action and complete skill assessments for situations they will encounter in the field. Hours depend on the state the EMT lives in.

Paramedics work with registered nurses as well as practicing paramedics to learn field procedures like starting an IV. They also do ride-alongs, field hours, clinical rotations, and more as determined by their state of residency.

Certification for an EMT includes graduating from an approved EMT program, CPR certification, National Registry exam, and state-approved psychomotor skills exam.

Testing for a paramedic includes EMT certification, graduation from an accredited paramedic program, completion of a psychomotor competency portfolio, CPR certification, and the passing of both a cognitive and psychomotor exam.

40-hour recertification course held every two years. 20 hours at the national level, 10 hours at the state level, and 10 hours at the individual level.

60-hour recertification course held every two years. 30 hours at the national level, 15 hours at the state level, and 15 hours at the individual level.

Certification and training alone show some of the differences between EMTs and paramedics. Both also have different job responsibilities when arriving at a scene of an emergency.

EMT vs Paramedic Job Responsibilities

EMTs are often the first to the scene and are in charge of preparing a patient for transfer to a hospital by assessing the scene and bringing the patient to a stable state and keeping them there. Their responsibilities include:

  • Administering first aid to the sick and wounded
  • Using training to assess injuries and illnesses for the best course of treatment
  • Performing basic emergency procedures (like clearing airways or stopping bleeding)
  • Utilizing basic equipment (like defibrillators) to increase the best patient outcomes
  • Observing, recording, and responding to patient condition changes
  • Preparing patients for transfer to hospitals
  • Figuring out how to best move patients with the help of other first responders
  • Driving emergency vehicles (such as EMS) from scene to scene
  • Maintaining and refilling emergency vehicles for patient care
  • Reporting all they witnessed and learned at the scene to proper physicians or nurses upon arrival at a hospital

Paramedics are able to do a lot more at the scene of an emergency due to their further training. While they also help assess and stabilize a patient, they are able to administer more care on the scene. Their extensive responsibilities include:

  • Responding to any and all medical emergencies from car accidents to heart attacks and even natural disasters
  • Performing more advanced emergency procedures (like intubation or inserting IVs)
  • Utilizing advanced medical equipment (like needles or bag valve mask resuscitators) to ensure critical patients make it to the hospital alive
  • Taking charge of an emergency scene and instructing other first responders (like EMTs) on the best medical care
  • Administering drugs or starting IVs, if needed
  • Communicating with dispatch operators to indicate where to send a patient and speak with the hospital receptionist about patient
  • Coordinating the next steps in a patient’s care with medical personnel
  • Reporting vitals, status, and any other relevant information (such as the cause of emergency transport) to medical professionals
  • Working with EMTs and other first responders to restock, decontaminate, and prepare the transport vehicles for the next call

EMTs serve as the first line and work on stopping minor emergencies while paramedics come in after and help out with major emergencies. They both help with transport and relaying information to medical professionals in hospitals.

EMT vs Paramedic Salary

While both serving as major helps to an emergency scene, more training and longer recertification hours call for some discrepancies in EMT vs Paramedic salary.

  EMT Salary Paramedic Salary
Hourly Salary

EMTs average $14.81 per hour with a range of $7.25 to $16.64 per hour.

Paramedics average $26.99per hour with a range of $14.38 to $27.22 per hour

Yearly Salary

An average EMT’s yearly salary is $37,630

The average paramedic’s yearly salary is $43,509

When comparing EMT vs. paramedic salary, you can see that the extra education and training that is required for paramedics also comes with a slightly higher salary.

Learn more about how much EMTs make.

Learn more about how much paramedics make.

Paramedic vs. EMT Skills

There is a bit of crossover between EMT and paramedic skills that a required to do their jobs since they do have similar responsibilities.

EMT Skills

  • Physical endurance and strength to bend and lift, assist patients, and work long hours
  • Critical-thinking and observation skills to assess medical emergencies accurately and work quickly to assist the patient
  • Medical knowledge to properly assess and treat a patient in the field
  • Problem-solving skills to figure out the best course of action in complex situations or unusual medical emergencies

Paramedic Skills

  • Listening and communication skills to best receive information from patients and report it to medical professionals in hospitals
  • Physical endurance and strength to work long hours and bend and lift on the job
  • Medical knowledge to properly examine and treat patients in the field or during transport
  • Problem-solving skills to administer the proper care while thinking quickly on their feet in intense and unusual medical emergencies
  • Interpersonal skills to work in teams, handle stressful situations, and provide compassion and a calming influence on patients

As you can see, there is some cross-over between the two but keep in mind that paramedics will need more depth in these skills as they are typically with the patient longer and handle higher stress emergencies.

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Paramedic vs EMT FAQs

What is the main difference between EMTs and paramedics?

While EMTs and paramedics are both emergency responders, EMTs have less training than paramedics so EMTs aren’t able to do as many medical practices as paramedics can.

How big is the pay gap between EMTs and paramedics?

EMTs do earn less annually than paramedics. The average hourly pay for EMTs is $14.81 while the average hourly pay for paramedics is $19.58. On average, paramedics make around $5,000 more per year than EMTs.

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