EMT Vs. Paramedic: What’s The Difference?

By Di Doherty - Aug. 2, 2022

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The titles EMT and paramedic are often used interchangeably in the vernacular, which may lead you to wonder: what’s the difference? Is there a difference? There is, in fact, a distinction between the two of them, but they work in the same field doing similar duties, making it not obvious.

Both EMTs and paramedics are trained, medical first responders. They’re the ones who show up in an ambulance when you call 911. This means that they’re trained to spot and respond to medical emergencies. They perform triage and other emergency procedures, as well as medical transportation when necessary.

The main difference is training and education. While EMTs go through an extensive training program, paramedics typically have an associate’s degree, and many have prior experience as EMTs.

Key Takeaways:

EMT Paramedic
Abbreviation of emergency medical technician – a first responder. The majority of the job is performing emergency medical care and transport. First responders – They perform emergency medical care at scenes, as well as triage (if necessary) and transport patients to hospitals.
Requires about 150 hours of training in order to be certified, depending on the state. Have at least 1,000 hours of training before being certified, and many have an associate’s degree as part of that.
This is an entry-level medical position – becoming an EMT is a good way to get hands-on medical experience. More room for advancement due to the higher level of education and training – most paramedics started off as EMTs and then became certified paramedics.
No degree is required to be an EMT, so if you want to avoid debt or want to jump-start your career in medicine, EMT is a good choice. Can perform higher-level medical procedures than EMTs, such as tracheostomies and reinflating collapsed lungs.

What is an EMT?

An EMT is a medical professional who is trained to respond to emergencies. All EMTs are trained in basic medical procedures such as administering CPR, oxygen, or glucose to a patient.

An EMT’s main duties are to assist. They’re dispatched by the 911 operator and are the ones to contact the hospital to inform them they have an incoming patient and of the severity of the injuries. Many of them are also licensed to drive an ambulance and will assist with the transport of patients.

EMTs don’t need to have a higher education. Instead, they are required to have a high school diploma or GED and pass a training course. Requirements vary from state to state, but generally, EMT programs take around 150 hours. Aspirants are then required to get a license to practice, which again varies depending on where you are, but usually requires taking an exam.

What is a Paramedic?

A paramedic is a certified medical professional who does almost everything that an EMT does, but they have far more training and can perform more complex tasks. Not all paramedics have an associate’s degree, but many do. Even if they don’t, becoming a paramedic requires at least 1,000 hours of training.

Because of their higher level of training, paramedics are able to perform more complex medical tasks, such as administering medication intravenously, performing tracheostomies, emergency baby delivery, and applying pacemakers.

Paramedics are often the leader of the ambulance crew, as they have more experience and training. The high level of training makes it so they’re in high demand, and as a result, they make almost $10,000 more a year than their EMT counterparts.

Many paramedics start out as EMTs and get paramedic training in order to further their careers. It’s also possible to transfer the medical credits to become a different type of medical professional later.

Tips for Becoming an EMT

If you want to become an EMT, it’s important to know that:

  • You are required to have a high school diploma and be 18.

  • It’s also necessary to pass a training program. Many vocational schools or community colleges offer them.

  • All EMTs have to be licensed. Each state has different requirements on the amount of coursework and how their certification works – the majority require an exam, and for you to pay a fee to take it.

  • Being an EMT is an incredibly physically and emotionally demanding job. It’s definitely not for everyone, so be prepared for the strain the job will put on you.

Tips for Becoming a Paramedic

Becoming a paramedic is hard work, and it involves a lot of steps:

  • Most paramedics are EMTs first, and some states even require experience as an EMT to become a paramedic.

  • Paramedics also need to be licensed, and the requirements vary from state to state. Many require you to take an exam to prove you have the required knowledge to do the job.

  • An associate’s degree helps with the training and required coursework and can potentially be used towards a higher medical degree in the future.

  • Paramedics need 1,000 to 2,000 hours of training, depending on the state, so it’s a serious time commitment.

  • Due to the higher level of training and education, paramedics have a higher chance of advancement in their careers.

EMT Vs. Paramedic FAQ

  1. Which has more skill, an EMT or a paramedic?

    A paramedic has more skill, knowledge, and training than an EMT. Paramedics are required to have at least 1,000 hours of training, while EMTs are usually around 150 hours. Paramedics are therefore able to perform higher-level medical procedures and are often in charge of doing triage and leading the ambulance team.

  2. What’s the salary of a paramedic vs. an EMT?

    EMTs usually make around $36,000 per year, while paramedics make closer to $44,000 annually. This varies from state to state and the amount of experience you have.

  3. Are an EMT and a paramedic the same thing?

    No, EMTs and paramedics aren’t the same thing. While it varies from state to state, an EMT and paramedic have different levels of training. While their jobs are similar – they’re both medical first responders and are usually part of an ambulance crew – paramedics have far more training than EMTs do.

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Di Doherty

Di has been a writer for more than half her life. Most of her writing so far has been fiction, and she’s gotten short stories published in online magazines Kzine and Silver Blade, as well as a flash fiction piece in the Bookends review. Di graduated from Mary Baldwin College (now University) with a degree in Psychology and Sociology.

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