Reflecting the growth of the healthcare sector overall, the field of paramedics and emergency medical technicians continues to expand. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 15% growth over the next decade, much higher than the national average for all industries. Now might be the opportune time to get an emergency medical technician (EMT) degree.

Broadly speaking, EMTs help people with serious medical emergencies and provide life-saving care for patients being transported to hospitals. EMTs serve in exciting and dynamic workplaces, with each day a little different than the next. What's more, by learning new skills, EMTs can move into supervisory roles, increasing their responsibilities and potential to earn higher salaries.

This guide explores the best accredited EMT training programs across the country and what you can expect once enrolled.

Should I Get an EMT Associate Degree?

If you want to help people, have an interest in healthcare, and tend to remain calm in high-pressure situations, you may be a great candidate for an EMT associate degree. EMTs serve as critical healthcare professionals, assist people with medical emergencies, and administer procedures that keep patients alive until a physician or surgeon can take over. EMTs must also be able to think on their feet in various situations.

As you begin your research, consider online and on-campus options. An online EMT program may work best for working professionals who must meet considerable personal and professional obligations, while those seeking a degree immediately after high school may find that an on-campus experience better suits them.

Within an EMT program, you will learn how to administer numerous procedures, including physical exams, airway maintenance, manual defibrillation, and trauma assessment. You will also learn how to give medication, intravenous fluids, and oxygen to people with serious or life-threatening medical conditions.

In addition to acquiring these skills during an EMT program, you can network with fellow students and instructors to open up the possibility of career opportunities. As you near graduation, your program will help you secure internships and find entry-level jobs. Once you graduate, you'll have the skills and knowledge necessary to compete in the job market and seek certification as a licensed EMT in your state.

What Can I Do With a Paramedic Associate Degree?

An EMT degree offers several career options, but to succeed in these settings, you'll need to think quickly and have a true interest in helping people in life-threatening situations. Below are the three top careers for those with an EMT associate degree:

Emergency Medical Technician / Paramedic

EMTs provide emergency assistance to people suffering from a wide variety of illnesses and injuries. They must quickly make assessments, administer medical or intravenous drugs, and perform life-saving procedures like CPR and First Aid. They also know how to use many different medical tools and regularly maintain or restock equipment, supplies, and vehicles.

Median Annual Salary: $36,649

Advanced Emergency Medical Technician

Similar to EMTs, these professionals must quickly assess injuries and illnesses and administer life-saving actions in a prehospital setting. However, they also have advanced medical knowledge and training that allows them to perform a greater variety of procedures. They also tend to have supervisory roles, such as overseeing other EMS professionals.

Median Annual Salary: $38,302

Paramedic Supervisor

Serving as leaders of emergency medical teams, paramedic supervisors hire, onboard, and review the performance of their fellow EMTs and paramedics. They must ensure their team meets all relevant local, state, and federal compliance standards, while coordinating schedules. Paramedic supervisors typically administer life-saving procedures in emergency situations as well.

Median Annual Salary: $60,932

Best States for EMTs

Emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics provide valuable services to the public, caring for sick and injured individuals in emergency situations and transporting patients to and from medical facilities. EMTs respond to 911 calls and assess medical situations as first responders, offering first aid and life-saving measures as needed. EMTs also document medical treatment and communicate with other medical professionals about diagnoses, procedures, and patient conditions.

EMTs must report infectious diseases and injuries from violent or criminal situations to the appropriate authorities. EMTs may act as emergency medical responders, trained to provide care even with minimal resources. Paramedics can provide limited medical treatments, including administering oral and intravenous medications. Advanced EMTs can administer additional medications and perform more medical procedures while on duty. Some EMTs work on helicopters and participate in life flights; others transport patients by ambulance.

EMTs can work in fire departments as part of hospital personnel or with private ambulance companies. Through various professional options, EMTs can offer healthcare assistance to the public in lucrative careers. The career should see a 15% increase in the United States through 2026, indicating growth and earning potential for emergency medical professionals.

Methodology

States with the highest employment levels and wages for EMTs and paramedics rank as the best states for EMTs. Many states offer wages far above the national mean and median figures, providing lucrative and rewarding careers for EMTs. Some states offer accessible training programs and advancement opportunities, providing EMTs with the best resources, information, and support. Outreach programs and incentives to work in both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan settings can influence employment conditions for EMTs, as well.

EMTs and paramedics should also consider whether to work with fire departments, public ambulance companies, or healthcare facilities. States offering high employment levels for EMTs in one or more of these environments can influence where EMTs earn the best wages and find the most professional fulfillment.

Rank School Location Description Toggle
1

Washington

After completing an EMT training program, a personal question assessment, and obtaining endorsement from a medical program director, individuals can become EMTs though the Washington Department of Health.

The projected growth for EMTs and paramedics in Washington state exceeds the national estimate by 5%. With a projected 20% increase, EMTs and paramedics in Washington can enjoy opportunities for positions in the field while simultaneously enjoying the highest wages in the country. EMTs and paramedics in Washington earn annual mean wages of $65,320. The national mean sits at roughly $36,110.

Six cities in Washington rank among the highest-paying metropolitan areas in the country for EMTs and paramedics. In Kennewick, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Bellingham, and Bremerton, EMTs and paramedics earn a mean annual wage of between $57,000 and $75,000. The highest-paid EMTs and paramedics in Washington earn around $101,610 annually.

2

Alaska

The state of Alaska offers extensive trainings and certification for EMTs. With programs and resources in incident management and pediatric medicine, EMTs at the first, second, third, and intensive-care levels can advance quickly into higher-paying positions in the field. EMTs in Alaska earn annual median salaries above $50,500, far exceeding the median across the country of $33,380.

EMTs and paramedics in both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas of Alaska enjoy some of the highest wages in their field. In Anchorage, EMTs and paramedics earn the fifth-highest annual mean wage in a metropolitan area in the United States, bringing home earn more than $61,000 each year. In nonmetropolitan southeastern and comparable rural areas of Alaska, EMTs and paramedics earn annual mean wages between $50,000 and $55,000. Poised for a 13% increase by 2026, according to projections, EMTs and paramedics in Alaska can expect continued opportunities for high-paying, rewarding careers.

3

Arizona

With an estimated 31% growth through 2026 for EMTs and paramedics, Arizona offers numerous employment opportunities for emergency medical professionals. Arizona's above-average growth and extensive training programs give entry-level EMTs access to opportunities in the field. The state of Arizona's Department of Health Services provides training modules for emergency medical service workers and resources for emergency medical care technician certification. Advanced training in ground and air transportation, plus preparation courses for advanced EMTs, allow for convenient, rewarding career progress.

EMTs and paramedics in Arizona earn a wage above the national median at roughly $36,780. Arizona ranks 12th in median wages for EMTs and paramedics. EMTs in the southern portion of Arizona earn higher wages than their counterparts in other regions of the state. Cities such as Phoenix and Tucson offer EMTs in Arizona the highest-earning potential.

4

Georgia

EMTs and paramedics in Georgia will experience a projected 24% career growth through 2026. This above-average growth estimate indicates continued employment opportunities throughout Georgia.

The Atlanta metropolitan area employs the fifth-largest body of EMTs and paramedics in the country, and cities like Rome and Columbus offer high annual median wages. In Rome, for example, EMTs and paramedics earn more than $40,310 a year.

The Department of Public Health in Georgia oversees EMTs and paramedics, supplying resources and licensure information to emergency medical professionals. Within the state of Georgia, emergency medical service workers hold certifications as EMTs, paramedics, or cardiac technicians. EMTs can also obtain intermediate and advanced licensure to move forward in their careers. EMTs in Georgia may perform more medical tasks than EMTs in other parts of the country, which may appeal to emergency medical workers who want more hands-on opportunities.

5

California

EMTs and paramedics in California earn an annual mean wage of $36,370, a few hundred dollars below the national mean. EMTs and paramedics in cities such as Redding and Salinas earn a median wage of $60,990 and $58,250, respectively -- far outearning emergency medical professionals around the country. With the second-highest number of EMTs and paramedics in the country, California should experience a projected 21% increase through 2026, providing emergency medical service professionals several options for new and advancing careers.

With resources and information online, the state of California offers EMTs access to the information they need to begin their careers in emergency medical services. Aspiring EMTs in California must complete an approved program, pass the national registry exam, and obtain licensure through a regional agency.

California authorizes paramedics to perform duties outside of their traditional roles, affording emergency medical professionals in the state an opportunity to work closely with medical directors and hospitals. In rural settings, EMTs and paramedics also have more autonomy in California.

6

Virgnia

The projected 20% occupation increase for EMTs and paramedics in Virginia through 2026 offers career opportunities to emergency medical personnel in both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. Proximity to Washington, D.C. provides EMTs and paramedics access to jobs in cities such as Alexandria and Arlington, while the state continues to develop and provide resources for EMTs and paramedics working in rural communities.

The Virginia Department of Health provides extensive resources and comprehensive information regarding requirements for EMTs and paramedics, supporting these professionals as they pursue their careers in Virginia. EMTs and paramedics working in Virginia near Washington, D.C. earn much higher incomes than those nationwide, bringing home annual median salaries near $49,310.

7

Minnesota

EMTs and paramedics in Minnesota earn higher salaries than emergency medical professionals across the country, with annual median income of $37,860. In Minneapolis, EMTs and paramedics earn median salaries in excess of $44,110 per year. The metropolitan area of Rochester boasts the nation's third-highest concentration of EMTs and paramedics, and offers emergency medical professionals an annual mean wage exceeding $40,190.

Projected growth for EMTs and paramedics in Minnesota remains on par with national estimates, at 14%. With above-average increases, emergency medical personnel can pursue careers as one of Minnesota's three classifications: EMT, advanced EMT, or paramedic.

The Minnesota Department of Health also offers EMTs and paramedics access to a community paramedicine program (CP), designed to advance training and increase competencies. EMTs and paramedics who seek to provide more extensive medical care can obtain Minnesota's CP certification by completing a required number of classroom and clinical hours.

8

Texas

Texas employs the highest number of EMTs and paramedics in the country, with more than 20,000 in its borders. The 20% projected increase in employment for EMTs and paramedics in Texas attests to the continued need for emergency medical service workers in the state.

EMTs and paramedics in Texas earn a mean wage above the national figure -- $36,850 annually. Amarillo, Texas offers EMTs and paramedics an earning potential exceeding $52,250, while Houston, which boasts the third-highest number of emergency medical service professionals in the country, provides a median wage of $31,900.

Emergency service workers can obtain certifications to work as EMT-paramedic, advanced EMT, EMT-basic, or emergency care attendant professionals providing an array of entry-level and advanced career options to professionals in Texas.

9

Tennessee

Emergency medical service workers in Tennessee can become emergency medical responders, technicians, advanced technicians, paramedics, or critical care paramedics. With various options for licensure and certification, EMTs and paramedics in the state can choose a career path that best fits their training and professional goals. Tennessee's projected 21% occupation increase for EMTs exceeds the profession's national predicted growth, making Tennessee an ideal location for EMTs and paramedics.

The median salary for EMTs and paramedics in Tennessee falls just short of the national annual median figure, but EMTs and paramedics in Tennessee's major cities can earn wages far higher than the national median. In cities such as Memphis, Jackson, and Nashville, EMTs and paramedics earn a median wage of more than $35,000 annually.

Recent legislative initiatives expand training options for EMS workers and allow for pre-hospital protocols, demonstrating Tennessee's dedication to build EMT and paramedic competencies while supporting public health.

10

Nevada

The Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health offers resources to emergency medical workers on emergency management, instruction, and weapons training in the interest of improving the competencies and safety of EMTs and paramedics in the state. With a projected 12% occupation increase in EMTs and paramedics by 2026 in Nevada, entry-level and advanced EMTs and paramedics can benefit from this information as they pursue positions in the field.

Nevada recently initiated a community paramedicine (CP) program for EMTs and paramedics, designed to increase emergency medical access and allow emergency medical personnel to expand their duties. The CP program benefits elderly patients and rural populations alike.

In Nevada, EMTs and paramedics earn median incomes of about $34,160. EMTs and paramedics in Carson City, specifically, earn more than $50,200 annually.

11

New York

The New York City metropolitan area employs the largest number of EMTs and paramedics in a metropolitan area of the United States. With about 9,490 EMTs and paramedics in the greater New York City region, the projected 23% increase in the field for New York state bodes well for emergency medical service workers in the area. New York City also offers high annual median salaries to EMTs and paramedics, with median wages of about $41,330 per year.

In other parts of New York, including the Nassau and Albany areas, EMTs and paramedics earn more than $40,000. This high earning potential remains consistent in the eastern, northern, and central parts of New York, as well.

The New York State Department of Health provides certification information for emergency responders, technicians, and paramedics. They also offer local and regional resources for emergency medical workers in the state. With training locations, recertification programs, initiatives on emergency medical care for children, and information on recent educational changes, New York's EMTs and paramedics can access helpful information and institutional supports with relative ease.

12

Colorado

Colorado will experience the highest estimated increase in employment opportunities for EMTs and paramedics through 2026. The state's 32% projected occupation growth for this field creates high-earning opportunities for entry-level and advanced EMTs.

EMTs and paramedics in Colorado earn a median annual salary of about $37,650. The highest median salaries, dispersed throughout Colorado, exceed $42,000. In Pueblo, Boulder, and Fort Collins, EMTs and paramedics earn more than $40,000 a year.

Colorado recognizes basic, intermediate, and advanced levels of EMT licensure. EMTs at all levels must obtain national registration before applying for state licensure. The state of Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) provides resources for emergency medical service workers for trainings and continuing education opportunities, plus a helpline for providers. The CDPHE also offers assessment and analysis of emergency medical service programs to local and trauma systems providers.

13

Hawaii

EMTs and paramedics in the Kauai nonmetropolitan area of Hawaii earn a mean of $59,520 per year, attesting to the high incomes available to emergency medical professionals in the state. EMTs in Hawaii can obtain credentials by completing the state's only EMT program, at Kapiolani Community College. To become a Mobile Intensive Care Technician (MICT), EMTs undergo additional training.

Entry-level positions with the Honolulu Emergency Service Department offer just under $48,000. With additional MICT certification, emergency medical service workers in Hawaii earn $60,000. This lucrative earning potential provides ideal options for EMTs and paramedics looking to work in Hawaii. With Hawaii's projected 14% occupation growth for these professionals through 2026, emergency medical professionals will continue to thrive in the state.

Hawaii's Department of Health also provides easy access to laws and regulations associated with EMTs and emergency medical administration. Cities like Honolulu offer junior paramedic programs designed to engage younger individuals and provide training and experience to high school students.

14

Maryland

The 13% projected increase in growth for EMTs and paramedics in Maryland remains comparable to the national growth rate. With EMTs and paramedics in Maryland earning a median wage of $41,940 annually, emergency medical professionals in the state will find continued career opportunities and earning potential.

Proximity to Washington, D.C. offers EMTs and paramedics in Maryland access to the seventh-largest pool of emergency medical service workers in the country. EMTs and paramedics in the Washington, D.C. area earn a mean salary of more than $52,250 annually. In Baltimore, the metropolitan area employing the ninth-most EMTs and paramedics in the country, emergency medical service workers earn about $45,720 each year. Cities such as Silver Springs and Wilmington offer similar high salaries.

All EMTs in Maryland receive licensure through the state's Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS). The MIEMSS Office of Licensure and Certification regulates all training and continued education to maintain the quality of emergency healthcare.

15

Missouri

The state of Missouri licenses basic and advanced EMTs, with EMT paramedics considered intermediary. The projected 13% growth for EMTs and 480 new job openings in Missouri will allow individuals at all levels to pursue careers in emergency medical services.

St. Louis boasts the sixth-largest group of EMTs and paramedics in the country, offering emergency medical service workers annual mean salaries of about $35,970. The annual median wage across the state falls short of the national figure, but cities like Cape Girardeau and Kansas City provide higher wages.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services provides resources and information for EMTs and other emergency service workers, including legal information, emergency preparedness data, and the time critical diagnosis system. Missouri also recently initiated a community paramedical program to give EMTs additional career paths while supporting public health, safety, and wellness.

16

Florida

Florida licenses EMTs and paramedics, though prospective EMTs must first earn licensure as paramedics. The Florida Department of Health provides resources on training and licensure practices for individuals hoping to benefit from the state's projected 19% occupation growth through 2026 for EMTs and paramedics.

In Florida, EMTs and paramedics earn below the national annual median wage, but in cities like Gainesville, Fort Myers, and West Palm Beach, their salaries exceed the national figures. The annual median wage in Florida falls to $31,570. The highest earners among EMTs and paramedics make more than $40,000 annually.

Florida has introduced a community paramedicine program to provide in-home health support to individuals in the state. This allows EMTs and paramedics to carry out their duties by following up and caring for patients without an emergency phone call.

17

North Carolina

The southeast coastal area of North Carolina houses the largest group of EMTs and paramedics in a nonmetropolitan area of the United States. EMTs and paramedics will see an estimated 18% increase through 2026, exceeding the national estimate of 15%. The strong presence and continued need for EMTs and paramedics will continue creating opportunities for professionals in emergency medical services.

EMTs and paramedics in North Carolina earn an annual median wage of more than $34,620. In cities like Wilmington, Rocky Mount, and Greenville, EMTs and paramedics earn more than $35,000 annually. With salaries exceeding the national median salary, plus high levels of growth, EMTs and paramedics in North Carolina may earn more than many of their colleagues around the country.

The North Carolina Office of Emergency Medical Services (NC OEMS) provides emergency medical protocols, policies, and procedures to all EMTs and paramedics. With licensure and certification oversight, the NC OEMS ensures quality and efficiency of emergency medical services in the state, supporting EMTs and paramedics while meeting the public need.

18

New Mexico

Sections of New Mexico initiated the first community paramedicine programs (CP) in the country, giving EMTs and paramedics the opportunity advance their careers. An EMT or paramedic can obtain CP credentials by completing coursework and practicum hours through one of New Mexico's approved programs. Providing healthcare to rural populations in New Mexico, the CP program allows emergency medical professionals more autonomy and an opportunity to serve underrepresented areas.

The New Mexico Department of Health also works to help EMTs manage critical events, establish trauma protocols, and handle stroke situations. Regional emergency medical services can apply for funding through the Department of Health, as well. The 10% projected increase for EMTs and paramedics in New Mexico provides emergency service workers access to careers in both rural and urban settings. The annual median income in New Mexico falls just short of the national annual median salary, but major metropolitan centers such as Albuquerque and Farmington provide higher wages.

19

Utah

Utah will see one of the highest increases in opportunities for EMTs and paramedics, with an estimated 30% rise through 2026. In Utah, the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Preparedness (BEMSP) licenses and oversees emergency medical responders, technicians, advanced technicians, and paramedics.

Through the BEMSP, emergency medical service workers can keep current on continuing education programs, classes to advance their careers, and policy or procedural updates. Through state and institutional support, EMTs in Utah continue to receive the latest trainings in emergency situations as they develop their career competencies.

The median annual salary for EMTs and paramedics in Utah falls below the national median, at around $32,070. In cities like Salt Lake City and Ogden, EMTs and paramedics earn much higher wages.

20

Alabama

The 19% projected growth for EMTs and paramedics in Alabama should create almost 350 new positions in the state. Emergency services professionals at the basic and advanced levels will find increased opportunities for employment in Alabama through the coming years.

While EMTs and paramedics in Alabama earn below the national median, certain opportunities do allow for higher earning potential. EMTs and paramedics near Columbus and Daphne earn above the national median salary. Currently, cities like Decatur, Alabama offer signing bonuses to EMTs and paramedics.

The state's Office of Public Health (OPH) provides EMTs and other emergency medical service workers with resources, news, events, and other information to help them stay current in the field. The OPH also oversees licensure and certifications for EMTs and paramedics in Alabama.

21

Connecticut

EMTs and paramedics in Connecticut earn the fifth-highest annual mean wages in their field nationwide. With annual mean salaries of more than $46,000 across the state, EMTs and paramedics in populous areas like Bridgeport-Stamford and New Haven earn even higher wages. The annual median salary for EMTs and paramedics in Bridgeport-Stamford reaches $54,210.

In the state of Connecticut, EMTs and paramedics will experience a projected 14% increase by 2026. These growing opportunities in Connecticut should offer abundant employment opportunities to emergency medical professionals in the coming years. Connecticut's Department of Health provides extensive licensure and resource information for EMTs and paramedics, facilitating entry into the field and career advancement.

Connecticut also offers an accessible and comprehensive bridge program, which trains emergency medical responders to become emergency medical technicians through online coursework and practical experience.

22

Maine

The 8% projected occupation increase for EMTs and paramedics in Maine through 2026 may fall below the national estimated growth, but the field's earning potential offers a strong outlook for emergency medical professionals. The annual median wage for EMTs and paramedics in Maine reaches $34,370. EMTs and paramedics in Dover and Lewiston earn $43,680 and $40,990, respectively.

The high concentration of EMTs and paramedics in Maine coincides with the state's strong community and institutional supports for emergency medical workers. The Department of Public Health in Maine offers resources to EMTs and paramedics, including the Maine EMS System Support website. Continuing education classes, licensing classes, and updates about emergency medical practice in the state supplement this resource.

Maine also offers paramedicine opportunities for EMTs, with coursework and certifications available to individuals that want to advance their careers.

23

Massachusetts

With an 8% projected occupation increase by 2026 and some 430 new jobs in the state, Massachusetts offers lucrative options to EMTs and paramedics. Wages for EMTs and paramedics in Massachusetts exceed the annual national median salary, with even higher earning potential in many areas.

The annual median salary for EMTs and paramedics in Massachusetts falls just short of $37,000, but emergency medical service workers in Nantucket and Peabody earn more than $53,000 annually. The Martha's Vineyard-Nantucket area of Massachusetts ranks as the highest paying nonmetropolitan area for EMTs and paramedics in the country.

Emergency medical professionals can work as initial EMTs, advanced EMTs, or paramedics by acquiring credentials through approved institutions and the national registry.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health provides extensive information about certification, training, and opportunities for EMTs and paramedics in the state, including a list of programs accredited by the department's Office of Emergency Medical Services.

24

New Jersey

New Jersey is home to the largest number of EMTs and paramedics, partially due to its proximity to New York City. The New York-New Jersey metropolitan area employs more than 9,200 EMTs and paramedics, and the annual mean wage for those individuals reaches $42,430.

New Jersey should experience a projected 9% employment increase for EMTs and paramedics through 2026. With 600 new jobs in the state, emergency medical service workers benefit from high median salaries in cities like Newark and near the Delaware border.

The New Jersey Department of Health Office certifies all EMTs and mobile intensive-care paramedics. The state recently shifted to the national registry examination for credentialing. New Jersey also provides continuing education opportunities, statewide meetings, and protocols to assist EMTs and paramedics in their duties.

25

Delaware

Across the state, Delaware's EMTs and paramedics earn an annual median salary of about $37,020. Emergency medical service workers in Delaware can earn even higher wages, as well, as the state sees a projected 7% occupation increase for professionals in this field through 2026. EMTs and paramedics in cities like Dover and Wilmington earn the highest salaries in the state. Delaware boasts a high concentration of EMTs and paramedics.

The Delaware State Fire Prevention Commission manages all EMT certifications and protocols. It supplies a list of names for all of the EMTs in Delaware on its website. To become an EMT in Delaware, individuals can attend training at the state's fire School, which offers a comprehensive program to certify, recertify, and support EMTs, paramedics, and field training officers in the state.

How to Choose an EMT Program

Thanks to the traditional and online EMT degrees available, you have no shortage of options when choosing a program.

First, consider the length of each program (i.e., how long it will take you to graduate). Some schools offer expedited programs that allow you to move toward your EMT degree quickly, even if you have numerous obligations outside of your coursework.

Second, explore the types of classes you'll take and your interest level toward them.

Third, ensure you can afford tuition. Online programs and public institutions tend to come with lower tuition, although some private schools offer competitive rates for associate degree programs. Colleges and universities offer a number of EMT programs and courses completely online.

Other factors to think about as you select a program: required internships or practicums, the school's accreditation status (avoid ones lacking regional or national accreditation), and campus location. If you need to live near a campus, look into the cost of living and transportation options.

Paramedic Program Admissions Requirements

The admissions process may look different for an online paramedic or EMT degree versus an on-campus program. Online programs tend to have more complex admissions processes than their traditional counterparts. Regardless, you should expect to provide your high school transcripts or GED scores, ACT or SAT scores, and a personal statement on why you wish to pursue emergency medical services as a career. Some programs also require one or more letters of recommendation.

We recommend applying for at least three paramedic or EMT programs to boost your chances of starting your program as soon as possible. Make a list of a dozen or so potential programs and narrow it to your three to five favorites. Apply to those programs you believe reflect the best matches for your needs, life circumstances, and career goals.

Admission Materials

  • Application: Applications usually take one to two hours to complete, depending on the materials required. Most are available online through CommonApp, a standardized application that more than 700 postsecondary institutions use.
  • Transcripts: You can send transcripts by contacting your high school guidance counselor and/or any colleges you previously attended. While some schools provide transcripts for free, others require a small fee—usually between $5 and $10.
  • Application Fee: These fees vary depending on the school, but you can generally expect to spend between $20 to $50. Many institutions waive this fee if you can demonstrate you have extenuating financial constraints.

Educational Paths for Paramedics

After receiving your EMT associate degree, you may explore transferring into a four-year program. In most cases, you can secure a bachelor's degree with just two more years of study.

An advanced degree opens up greater career opportunities. Payscale reports that while the average EMT makes about $13 per hour, EMT and paramedic supervisors make closer to $20 per hour. EMT-related bachelor's programs tend to have friendly transfer policies to welcome students who already have associate degrees.

Emergency Medical Care

This EMT degree prepares students for leadership positions in emergency medicine and prehospital care, including supervisors, managers, and operations directors. Basic coursework covers subjects like EMS research, pharmacology, and the handling of hazardous materials. Most programs also involve examining more complex issues like EMS laws and regulations, disaster management, neonatal care, and emergency cardiology procedures.

Emergency Medical Management

Rather than focusing on first responder procedures and training, an EMM bachelor's degree prepares students for leadership and management roles in both emergency and conventional healthcare settings. Students study issues related to disaster management, healthcare leadership, EMS management, healthcare law and policy, and even homeland security. EMM programs also tend to prioritize ethical issues and human resource management.

Emergency Health Sciences

A bachelor's degree in emergency health sciences enables students to take a holistic view of the EMS field and move into more advanced roles and responsibilities. Students take courses on a wide variety of subjects, including pharmacology, EHS research, flight medicine, hazmat management, EMS budgeting and management, multicultural health, and human resource management.

What Will I Learn in an EMT Program?

The courses you take as part of your EMT associate degree may vary depending on your school or program. However, many courses are common to these degrees, as first responders generally must have the same skills and training no matter where they practice. The list below includes five common courses you'll find as you conduct your initial research:

Emergency Medical Interventions

Students learn about basic life support skills and life-saving assessments and procedures. They also work with a paramedic to perform BLS activities, working through processes that require quick thinking, prioritization, and strong communication. The course serves as an introduction to more advanced study.

Advanced Cardiac Care

This course focuses on assessing and resuscitating patients suffering from heart attacks and other cardiological issues. Students build their skills assisting victims of cardiac arrest, typically resulting in an American Heart Association Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support certification. Most jobs require this certification to serve as an EMT or paramedic.

Pediatric Life Support

Through this course, students learn how to provide advanced life support care to children. It covers serious respiratory, cardiac, and other life-threatening conditions, along with training in ECG interpretation, cardiac medications, and the operation of manual defibrillators. Upon completing the course, students typically receive PALs certification through the American Heart Association.

Operating Emergency Vehicles

Because driving ambulances and other emergency response vehicles represents an important part of EMTs' jobs, this course delivers practical skills and training in this area. Its curriculum typically meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and U.S. Department of Transportation standards. Students learn how to drive, maintain, and equip these complex vehicles.

Advanced Medical Life Support

Students take an extensive look into the study of medical emergencies and how first responders can provide the best possible care when transporting patients to a hospital. This may be one of the last courses a student takes, as it provides a cohesive overview of everything learned throughout the program. Students who successfully complete the course usually receive AMLS certification.

How Long Does It Take to Get an EMT Associate Degree?

If you attend school full time, you will likely be able to finish your EMT degree in two years or fewer. This may vary depending on the number of credits you take each term and if the program requires an internship or practicum, i.e., working with first responders in a real-world setting. Most EMT programs require 60 credit hours to graduate.

You may also take steps to reduce the time it takes to complete your EMT associate degree. On the one hand, some students take as many as credits as possible each semester, working hard in the short term so they can graduate quickly. On the other hand, some students take fewer credits if they foresee a hectic personal schedule.

Professional Organizations for Paramedics

In addition to earning an EMT degree, consider joining one or more professional organizations that serve emergency medical professionals. These groups offer opportunities for you to refine your craft, meet fellow EMTs, and find employment. Professional organizations provide continuing education, conferences, career services, and job boards. Here are three of the most popular:

National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians

NAEMT serves all EMS professionals, including EMTs, first responders, and paramedics. Founded in 1975, the organization offers advocacy, professional development, networking, and support for innovation and research in the field.

International Association of EMTs and Paramedics

A union for EMS professionals, IAEP offers resources, contract negotiators, support staff, and legal assistance. It includes more than 10,000 members across the United States.

National EMS Management Association

NEMSMA promotes excellence among emergency service supervisors by developing and sharing evidence-based best practices, offering continuing education, and advocating at the national level.