Paramedic Training (EMTP)
Paramedics are trained and licensed in Advanced Life Support (ALS) which is more invasive and comprehensive than Basic Life Support (BLS). Paramedics (EMTP) have an expanded scope of practice than the EMT-B and AEMT/EMTI which leads to a higher salary and more extensive job opportunities.
Paramedics have job opportunities with Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) all over, providing ALS pre-hospital care to patients in need.
In addition to the Advanced Emergency Medical Technician skills, paramedics can administer at least 25 medications, perform endotracheal and nasogastric intubation, utilize and monitor electrocardiographic devices, perform a needle thoracostomy in addition to many other pre-hospital skills.
Paramedics are an integral part of the Emergency Response System (EMS) and provide advanced interventions in a pre-hospital care setting and during transport of patients.
For information about the new paramedic schooling requirements and testing changes, see our Paramedic Page page.
Many Paramedic schools require an EMT-B certification as a prerequisite and some also have specific experience requirements.
For example, Saddleback College requires one year of full-time work as an EMT on an emergency response vehicle such as a private ambulance or fire truck in order to qualify for their program.
Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) is another well-known Paramedic program in the area and it requires 1200 hours of field experience to be completed before a candidate can apply for the program. For more information check out our EMT Training Courses page.
Because of these requirements many emergency medical responders begin their career as an EMT-B and work for a year or so to get the needed experience to apply for paramedic school.
That was the path I chose. After working on an ambulance and getting 1200 hours of field experience, I applied for Mt. SAC and went to the campus for the written testing. After passing the tests one of the instructors mentioned that I should go into Nursing because I enjoy emergency care so much.
I had never even considered a career in Nursing because in my mind I saw nurses as only doing what doctors instructed without much independence or autonomy.
The paramedic instructor, who also worked as an RN, told me how nursing really is and changed my career path. So no matter what path you take, getting a year of experience as an EMT won’t be a waste.
My experience on the ambulance made me comfortable with patient assessment and plan of care and it helped with the constantly changing environment of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). (To find out more about the kind of jobs that a Basic EMT can do, go here.)
There are programs, usually privately owned, that don’t require time in the field as an EMT-B for anyone who wants to skip getting a basic certification and go straight to EMT Paramedic without any other medical experience.
These are sometimes referred to as “zero to hero” programs and can produce successful emergency medical responders even though these professionals initially lack experience as an EMT.
When choosing a paramedic school it’s important to find an accredited program. Starting in 2013 candidates are required to complete their EMT Paramedic education from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).
If a Paramedic school is not properly accredited by CAAHEP, the student will not be able to apply to take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technician (NREMT) Paramedic Exam and get the Paramedic certification.
National standards set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for paramedic school programs require accredited programs consist of about 1000-1200 total hours of instruction.
While each state has it’s own specific standards, the paramedic courses must have around 500 hours of academic and skills training, 200 hours of hospital and clinical training, and 300 hours of field internship.
These hours are flexible depending on the size of classes and other similar factors.
The cost of Paramedic programs can vary drastically depending on the type of school. Many of the same schools options present for an EMT-B are available to paramedics. One difference is instead of EMT Boot Camps there are Paramedic Academies (usually for Fire personnel).
I also recommend a public institution, like a community college, to get your EMT Paramedic education for the same reasons they are recommended for EMT-B programs.
These are good programs because you can use your class units towards an Associates, Bachelor, or other degree later. Another reason is the financial aid options available, which could be a big factor because Paramedic school is longer and more expensive than the other EMT training programs.
For an example of how much paramedic school cost I will use Saddleback College in California.
This is a community college so a candidate may qualify for financial aid, and it’s in California which means there is a chance to have the entire tuition fee waived with a BOG Fee Waiver. For more information on this scroll up to Requirements for EMT Programs above.
The main costs for this paramedic course are split into two sections. The first section is Saddleback College Fees:
• Tuition (33.5 units at $46 a unit) is $1,541
• Material Fees $210
• Health Fees for two semesters $38
• Parking fee for two semesters $60
— Total $1849 —
The second section includes Other Costs:
• Books $500
• Insurance $20
• Uniforms $150
• Supplies $150
• State License $250
• Live Scan $51
• National Registry Profile $150
• National Registry Written Exam $180
• National Registry Practical Exam $155
— Total other costs $1606 —
Entire Paramedic Program Costs $3455
This makes the total estimated cost of the entire program $3455 at Saddleback community college before any financial aid. This price will vary by state and program but it’s an investment to advance career training and successfully completing the program will ultimately lead to a higher salary.
Some important things to keep in mind before starting a Paramedic Program:
• This will be a much bigger intrusion in your life than becoming an EMT is. Becoming a paramedic is going to take more time and energy because you will be learning valuable knowledge and skills while increasing your responsibilities.
• Let your loved ones know the commitment you are making to advance your medical career. For 12-18 months paramedic school will be taking over your life. You will be attending classes, doing hours of required reading, skills practice, and attending a lot of clinical hours.
• It’s important to have support from loved ones so your relationships don’t suffer. If you tell friends and family ahead of time that you will not be available because most of your time is going to be spent working and studying, they are more likely to support you and not be resistant to changes.
Want to get back to the basics? Check out What is an EMT? and How to Become an EMT.