Difference Between EMT and Paramedic
There is a vast difference between EMT and Paramedic personnel but many people think all ambulance workers are trained the same. There are different levels of trained medical professionals working on ambulances because some emergencies require a higher level of training.
Some calls need Basic Life Support (BLS) Units which have emergency medical technicians (EMTs) on staff to provide prehospital care. Other more serious calls may require Advanced Life Support (ALS) Units to respond. These units have at least one Paramedic on staff and more advanced supplies available.
While there is a big difference between EMT and Paramedic healthcare workers, there are some things they have in common. EMTs and Paramedics are both licensed through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) in most states.
They can both provide prehospital care to the sick and injured. Also, EMTs and Paramedics both play important roles in the medical field.
EMT vs Paramedic Training
The difference between EMT and Paramedic personnel becomes very obvious when you look at the training required for each.
Total EMT training is usually about 120-500 hours total, including ride along and field hours. Paramedic training is much more in-depth with about 1200-1800 hours.
Some Paramedic programs require 6 months to a year of experience working as an EMT in order to begin Paramedic training.
For more detailed information on both EMT and Paramedic requirements see our EMT Training page.
Emergency Medical Technician Skills
There is a big difference between EMT and Paramedic on the job skills, but both professionals are responsible for making life saving decisions. Job responsibilities and scope of practice for EMTs and Paramedics can vary by state but here are some general differences between EMTs and Paramedics.
Emergency medical technicians provide Basic Life Support, prehospital care and transport of patients. Paramedics provide patient management along with BLS and ALS prehospital care during transport.
Emergency medical technician skills that can be performed include:
• Vital Signs
• Patient Assessment
• Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
• Wound Care/ Bleeding Management
• Bandaging/ Splinting
• Oxygen Administration
• Use Asthma Inhaler and Epinephrine Auto-injector
• Basic Airway Management/ Suctioning
• Assist Critical Care Transports
• Automated Defibrillation
• Spinal Immobilization
• Give Oral Glucose, Aspirin and Nitroglycerin
Paramedics can perform all emergency medical technician skills along with many advanced skills. Here are some additional Paramedic skills:
• Intravenous (IV) and Intraosseous Infusions
• IV Medications and Fluid Therapy
• Advanced Airway Management
• Endotracheal Intubation
• Give about 30-40 Medications
• Needle Cricothyrotomy
• Place Nasogastric Tube
• 12-lead Electrocardiograph Monitoring
• Transcutaneous Pacing
Emts can work in teams on a BLS Ambulance Unit and Paramedics can work in teams on an ALS Ambulance Unit. Some places also combine teams with one EMT and one Paramedic on an ambulance. In that case the EMT will drive during ALS calls and will provide support to the Paramedic as needed.
EMT and Paramedic Certification Levels
The difference between EMT and Paramedic certification levels can be a bit confusing. To clarify, Paramedic is the highest level of EMT certification.
Emts can be certified at different levels depending on the state.
They can get EMT training at a Basic level (EMT-B), Advanced level (AEMT), or the highest level, Paramedic (EMT-P). In addition, EMT’s can get specialized training to become a Tactical EMT or Wilderness EMT.
Paramedics can also get additional training and certifications to continue their career. For example they can become a Certified Flight Paramedic or a Critical Care Paramedic with additional education.
EMT vs Paramedic Salary
Another difference between EMT and Paramedic healthcare workers can be seen in the salaries. Here is a general idea of EMT salaries in the United States. For more detailed EMT and Paramedic salary information and to see the top 5 highest paying states check out our EMT Salaries page.
As of August 2017, the difference between EMT and Paramedic salaries according to the national average in the United States is $31,029 for a Basic EMT and $40,895 for a Paramedic. Salary will vary significantly depending on the EMT’s location in the United States.
According to Payscale as of August 2017 the Median pay for a Basic EMT in the U.S. is about $12.19 an hour. Emergency medical technicians frequently work overtime which can increase overall pay for EMTs able to put in the time. Overtime pay for an EMT-B can range from $13.49-$23.36 an hour.
Overall, EMT-B annual salaries in the U.S. range from $20,670-$40,284 with an average salary of $31.029. Factors like geography, years of experience and employer are the biggest influencers on salary.
According to Payscale as of August 2017, the Median pay for a Paramedic in the U.S. is about $16.99 an hour. Paramedics also frequently work overtime which can greatly increase overall pay of Paramedics able to put in extra hours. Overtime pay for Paramedics can range from $17.85-$35.14 an hour.
Overall, Paramedic annual salaries in the U.S. range from $29,214-$59,806 with an average salary of $40,895. Like EMTs, factors that influence salary include geography, employer and years of experience.
EMT vs Paramedic
Emergency medical technicians and Paramedics are both well respected and well trained members of the healthcare field. The biggest difference between EMT and Paramedic workers is that the Paramedic is a more highly trained professional. This gives Paramedics an expanded Scope of Practice in prehospital care.
Paramedics have skills and knowledge to give medications and treatments in the prehospital setting that EMTs are not capable of doing. Another difference between EMT and Paramedic personnel is that Paramedics have a higher annual salary than EMTs. They also have the potential for a much higher salary by taking on a lot of overtime.
|TRAINING||120-500 Hours||1200-1800 Hours|
|JOB SKILLS||Basic Life Support||Advanced Life Support + Meds|
|SALARY||$31,029 Annual Est.||$40,895 Annual Est.|
- Interested in work boots good for both EMTs and Paramedics? Check out our Top Ten EMS Boots List and 2018 Guide to Choosing EMS Boots.
- Want to work on assessment skills? Check out our Guide to Auscultating Lung Sounds.
Christina Beutler is the creator of EMT Training Base. She is a former EMT and a current Registered Nurse. Christina’s path changed after taking a Basic First Aid class while in Community College, and a career in healthcare opened up. Working as an Emergency Medical Technician led to a passion for nursing and a job working in the Intensive Care Unit and Critical Care Unit right out of Nursing School. To learn more about Christina’s story, head over to the About page.