A paramedic is an emergency medical responder who has been extensively trained to handle emergencies in the ambulance or helicopter ride on the way to the hospital. You will receive the education and training required to assess patient condition and determine what procedure is best to keep the patient alive and as stable as possible. Paramedics receive the most amount of education and training in the emergency medical services (EMS) field.
Required Education And Training
Paramedics must first receive the proper training and education to qualify as an emergency medical technician (EMT). There are two levels of EMT: EMT and advanced emergency medical technician (AEMT). To qualify for the second level, you must first receive classroom instruction as well as hands-on skill training at the EMT level, and then pass a two-part cognitive and psychomotor exam called the NREMT (National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians) exam. So, to become a paramedic, you must first receive your EMT and AEMT training and certifications.
Previous work experience is not required to become a paramedic, but a certain number of clinical hours typically are. Clinicals provide real-world (non-paid) work experience. They are usually hosted by hospitals and medical training schools. Most often, they are provided by the school in which you received your education and training—that means you won't have to contact a hospital to sign up. Each state differs in how many clinical hours are required to complete your education, but most states have you complete around 10-25 hours. The New York State Department of Health, for example, requires a minimum of 10 clinical hours for EMTs.
To be clear, you must graduate, pass all required exams, and attend clinicals as well as receive your NREMT certification in both EMT and AEMT before you can receive any training or education as a paramedic. Clinicals usually include "ride-alongs" in a real ambulance.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Paramedic?
It takes approximately three to 12 weeks or 120 hours to complete EMT training, and an additional 30 to 350 hours to complete AEMT training. The low end of this would be considered an accelerated program. For example, if you enroll in a three-week EMT training program, this would be considered an accelerated training program. It would be extremely fast-paced.
Most AEMT programs, however, take around 250 hours to complete. That means if you enroll in a program that offers eight hours of classroom time per day, then it should take you 31 days to complete the program. If you enroll in a program that offers four hours of classroom time per day, then it should take you 62 days to complete.
We've created the handy timeline below to help you better understand how long it should take you to complete each level.
- EMT: 3-12 weeks
- AEMT: 31 days to 3 months
- Paramedic: 1,000-1,200 hours, or 6 months (accelerated) to 2 years
Finally, in addition to your training and successful passing of the NREMT exam, paramedics are required to obtain licensure before they can work in the field. Refer to your state Department of Health for licensing requirements.