Emergency medical technicians (or EMTs) and paramedics provide medical treatment and care to sick and injured patients in critical ― and often life-threatening ― situations. Their regular duties include responding to calls for emergency medical services, performing CPR and/or first aid and transporting patients to hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. EMTs and paramedics must become licensed in all 50 states; specific licensure requirements vary by state, but often include a comprehensive exam, a criminal background check and/or certification through the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.
Many aspiring EMTs and paramedics begin their career by earning an associate degree in their field. EMT and paramedic associate programs equip students with the knowledge and skills needed for this demanding, high-stress professional field. The curriculum emphasizes hands-on learning, and students will have numerous opportunities to practice life-saving techniques in simulated environments. Associate EMT and paramedic programs often include internships or externships, as well; these courses allow students to receive supervised training from experienced professionals. Many of today’s students are choosing to earn their EMT and paramedic associate degree online. Web-based students follow the same rigorous curriculum as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leading to the same number of postdegree job opportunities. The asynchronous (or self-paced) format of most online associate programs is also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare responsibilities and other obligations that may interfere with campus-based learning.
Learn more about what you can do with an online EMT and paramedic associate degree program and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.
Choosing a Program
WILL AN ONLINE EMT AND PARAMEDIC ASSOCIATE PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?
Online EMT and paramedic associate programs cover all fundamental areas of emergency patient care. Students learn how to assess individuals for cardiac arrest, stroke, respiratory ailments and other health-related issues, and also evaluate different burns, broken bones and other types of traumatic injury. Coursework will also introduce students to essential life-saving techniques, as well as important equipment like stretchers, backboards and ambulance-based devices. Offsite practicum training will give students the chance to apply their skills in a real-world setting.
WILL AN ONLINE EMT AND PARAMEDIC ASSOCIATE PROGRAM WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?
Online associate degree programs for EMTs and paramedics offer a flexible alternative to traditional, classroom-based education. Students will be able to access course lectures and readings, participate in virtual discussions with other students, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors from home on their own schedule. Current technology also allows them to study away from their personal computer using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other Wi-Fi-compatible devices. For added convenience, online EMT and paramedic associate students can usually coordinate practicum courses at sites located within a reasonable distance of their current residence.
WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY EMT AND PARAMEDIC ASSOCIATE DEGREE?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that a ‘high school diploma or equivalent’ is considered the educational minimum for EMTs and paramedics, so those who earn an associate degree will be well-positioned to compete in the job market. Intermediate and advanced EMT and paramedic roles may require additional specialized instruction; the best online EMT and paramedic associate programs prepare students for postdegree licensure requirements, including certification exams and other options available through the NREMT.
WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE EMT AND PARAMEDIC ASSOCIATE PROGRAMS?
Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online EMT and paramedic associate degree programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online EMT and paramedic associate program, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific associate degree requirements and offerings.
Accredited Online Paramedic Programs
|Rank||School Name||Ranking Score||Relative Cost||Graduation Rate||Location||Description|
|1||North Central Missouri College||/5||32.53%||Trenton, MO|
Students in the online paramedic program at North Central Missouri College graduate with an Associate’s degree in Applied Science (AAS). The EMT-Paramedic degree track offers two different programs of study, including the management track, where students will broaden their abilities related to dealing with people in supervisory roles, and the health care track, where students will concentrate on expanding knowledge of how to improve patient care. The management track requires students to complete 36 credits, typically over three semesters, while students pursuing the healthcare track can typically complete their required 31 credits in two semesters.
Both programs are designed for licensed paramedics who are already employed and are interested in furthering their EMT educations. Those who have already earned licensure in Missouri through a career center or technical school will be awarded a block of 30 credit hours that will go toward the credit hours needed for the AAS degree — the 36 credits for the management track and 31 credits for the healthcare track are the additional credit hours that must be completed. Many of the courses needed to complete the AAS degree can be taken online.
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|2||Davidson County Community College||/5||23.34%||Thomasville, NC|
The online EMT programs at the College of Davidson and Davie Counties (DCCC) are designed to suit the varied needs of students looking to enter the emergency medical science field. For students just starting out in the field, DCCC offers EMT certifications that can be completed in 13 credits. For students who are more certain about their desire to pursue a career in emergency medical science, the college offers two-year degree programs through which students can earn an Associate’s degree in Applied Science (AAS). Many students in these programs gain hands-on experience in the EMT field through lab simulations and field internships.
Students who don’t hold any paramedic licenses will need to complete 66 semester hours to earn their AAS, which typically translates to two years of classes, including courses taken over one summer. For already credentialed paramedics looking to expand their knowledge and career prospects, they’ll need an additional 26 semester hours for their AAS, which they can earn through DCCC’s special bridging option. Students must earn a “C” or above in required courses to proceed in the AAS program.
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|3||Lenoir Community College||/5||12.71%||Kinston, NC|
Lenoir Community College’s hybrid online paramedic program combines internet courses with hands-on, on-site lab sessions for students who are already certified as EMTs or AEMTs and are ready to progress to the level of paramedic. The 40-week program prepares students to take the National Registry Paramedic exam, or, if they want to practice locally, the North Carolina Office of EMS Paramedic certification exam. LCC provides other formats to train students from no certification to Paramedic certification as well, and offers training programs at other level such as EMT and AEMT.
LCC designed this unique hybrid course to provide study options for students who may not live locally. LCC is authorized to provide their distance paramedic education and clinical EMS/field rotations in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, California, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia, and Vermont. Students, however, must meet on campus for a total of four weeks.
The program is well suited for students considering LCC’s Paramedic Academy but would prefer to meet during week days over the course of four weeks, rather than over 8-11 separate weekends as other program formats at LCC require. In addition to the four weeks of on-site lab requirements, students must also complete 200 hours of clinical experience, 60 hours of EMS field experience, and 240 hours of an EMS field internship.
LCC also offers an online associate degree in EMS that bridges currently certified Paramedics to an associate degree. Currently certified students can receive up to 45 credits toward the 76 credit hour associate degree.
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|4||Broward College||/5||34.27%||Fort Lauderdale, FL|
Broward College’s paramedic technical certificate program is designed to provide advanced training for students who wish to pursue careers within the emergency medical services that involve extensive care of patients. The two-semester, 42-credit program prepares its graduates to take the Florida State Paramedic and National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians Paramedic examinations so they can work as licensed, entry-level paramedics.
The BC program takes a holistic approach to EMS training, ensuring that its students develop both advanced technical knowledge and fine practical skills through courses taught in a classroom setting as well as “on-the-job” training opportunities. BC offers out-of-classroom experience in area hospitals, onboard fire-rescue ambulances, advanced life support ambulances, and in the school’s high-tech EMS lab. The school’s graduates are often heavily recruited throughout the state of Florida after they complete their training, and the certificate program serves as a prerequisite to BC’s popular Associate’s in Science degree in emergency medical services. Paramedics who earn a degree from BC are afforded automatic enrollment in any public Florida university, where they can earn a bachelor’s degree, attend nursing school, or pursue other educational opportunities.
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What Else Can I Expect from an Online EMT and Paramedic Program
|18 months to 2 years|
|$6,000 to $20,000 in annual tuition|
Related Areas of Study
|Nursing, Medical Assistant, Medical Technology, Healthcare Administration, Fire/Medical Dispatch|
|Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoAEMSP)|
Employment Outlook for EMT and Paramedic Program Graduates
Current projections indicate strong job growth and steady employment in the years to come for EMTs, paramedics and other assistive healthcare and medical personnel. This trend is largely due to a sharp uptick in the number of medical patients nationwide; millions of previously uninsured Americans now receive medical coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the aging baby boomer population ensures a greater need for personnel with geriatric care training. According to U.S. News & World Report, paramedics face an unemployment rate of 3.0%; by comparison, the national unemployment rate for all occupations currently sits at 4.9%.
Using data from U.S. News, the following table compares unemployment rates for EMTs/paramedics and other supportive healthcare occupations.
|Occupation||Unemployment Rate (2016)|
|Occupational Therapy Assistant||1.2%|
|Diagnostic Medical Sonographer||1.9%|
|Clinical Laboratory Technician||3.4%|
|Physical Therapist Assistant||5.8%|
Source: U.S. News & World Report
The 10-year outlook for EMTs and paramedics is quite favorable, as well. The BLS projects 24% industry growth for EMTs and paramedics between 2014 and 2024, which should result in roughly 58,500 new jobs.
Earning a Living
According to U.S. News, the median annual salary for EMTs and paramedics is $31,700. However, earning potential for these personnel largely depends on factors like certification level, employer size and city/state of employment. The following table features a median salary breakdown for EMTs and paramedics currently employed in the United States.
|Percentile||Median Annual Salary|
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Salary expectations for EMTs and paramedics will also depend on work experience level. The next table looks at 20-year salary growth projections for five of the most common career pathways for EMT and paramedic associate degree recipients.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (10+ Years)||Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years)||Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)|
|Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)||$29,554||$35,132||$35,530||$42,000|
|EMT Basic Certification||$33,813||$42,086||$42,775||$48,486|
|Emergency Room (ER) Technician||$29,614||$30,516||$39,882||$39,838|
|Medical Dispatcher (EMD) Certification||$34,169||$38,011||$45,488||$50,251|
All five occupations listed on the table experience a career salary growth rate ranging from 33% to 48%. Employees with the Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) certification show the highest rate of salary growth: a 47.1% increase between the entry-level and late-career stages. Employees with basic EMT certification placed second, with 43.4% salary growth after 20 years on the job.
Career and Further Education Opportunities
Students who complete EMT and paramedic associate programs will be qualified for dozens of entry-level roles, although candidates may need certification or additional training to meet licensure requirements in some states. The EMT and paramedic profession and three related career pathways are detailed below.
EMTs and Paramedics: Nearly a quarter million EMTs and paramedics are currently employed in the United States, and nearly half work for ‘ambulance services’. Continuing education is essential to this occupation; EMTs and paramedics must be recertified in CPR and first aid every one or two years, and they will receive additional trainings on a regular basis. Basic, Intermediate and Advanced certification can also be obtained through postdegree coursework.
Ambulance Drivers and Attendants: Ambulance drivers and attendants operate vehicles and medical equipment used in emergency calls. They often act as supportive personnel for EMTs and paramedics on scene. These personnel are trained to care for sick, injured and convalescent individuals, and must pass a series of background checks and driving tests.
Police, Fire and Ambulance Dispatchers: Also known as ‘public safety telecommunicators’, these professionals act as mediators between emergency callers and EMTs, paramedics, police officers, firefighters and other emergency personnel. They must first assist the callers and gather essential information, then relay this data to the appropriate responding unit. Depending on their specific position, dispatchers may also be trained to handle non-emergency calls.
Firefighters: Firefighters are trained to put out fires using a wide range of tools, and rescue people and animals directly threatened by fires. CPR and first aid is an essential skill in this profession, and many firefighters have earned certification as EMTs and/or paramedics.
|Occupation||Median Annual Salary|
|EMTs and Paramedics||$31,980|
|Ambulance Drivers and Attendants||$25,470|
|Police, Fire and Ambulance Dispatchers||$38,010|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to the EMT/paramedic profession is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for professional EMTs and paramedics. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.
- National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians: The NAEMT holds partnerships with more than 50 EMS providers and agencies across the country. Members gain access to scholarships, grants, job listings and other exclusive opportunities.
- International Association of EMTs and Paramedics: Currently representing more than 10,000 members worldwide, this union was created to provide leadership and advocacy for different EMS personnel. Employees in the private, public and ‘third service’ sectors are all welcome to apply.
- National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians: The NREMT offers official certification for EMTs and paramedics; in many states, those who have earned NREMT certification will qualify for licensure. The website hosts a compendium of study guides, practice questions, exam outcomes and other information about EMT certification requirements.
Financing Your Online Associate in EMT and Paramedic
Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.
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