Best Online Associate in Paramedic Programs
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Associate in paramedic programs prepare students for careers as medical emergency first responders. These study paths focus on techniques for delivering lifesaving care to people suffering from traumatic injuries or acute health episodes.
Like most associate degrees, it usually takes the equivalent of two academic years of full-time study to complete graduation requirements.
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Some online associate in paramedic programs have self-pacing features that may shorten the typical timeline. Others offer advanced standing to licensed first responders seeking to upgrade their educational credentials.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) anticipates above-average increases in demand for emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics. The BLS projects 11% employment growth in these professions from 2020-2030.
Students in these associate programs can gain the knowledge they will need to obtain and maintain licensure as a paramedic or EMT. Associate in paramedic programs also can provide a strong knowledge base for specialized first-response positions, such as cardiovascular technologists.
This guide profiles the top online schools with associate in paramedic programs. Read on to learn more about curricula, admissions processes, career paths, and more.
What Can I Expect From an Online Associate in Paramedic Program?
Successful paramedics and EMTs have several important skills. Medical first responders have the ability to remain calm under pressure. They also benefit from having strong verbal communication and leadership abilities along with empathy and patience.
Keep in mind that paramedics and EMTs assist critically injured and ill people. You will be exposed to traumatic and stressful situations. If you doubt your ability to perform under such circumstances, becoming a paramedic might not be right for you.
Conduct an honest self-assessment of your suitability for the career path before applying. If you decide to proceed, you will find most online associate in paramedic programs share several defining characteristics:
- Learners complete 60-64 credits (about 20-21 courses).
- Classes take place asynchronously.
- Core courses often follow sequential structures and must be completed in order.
- Components that test mastery of psychomotor skills take place in face-to-face environments.
Many programs include in-person requirements beyond psychomotor skills tests. For instance, associate in paramedic programs often feature internships. These take place in field settings and expose students to the professional realities they will encounter in their future careers.
In most cases, associate degrees lead to associate of science (AS) or associate of applied science (AAS) designations. Both options feature comparable curricula. However, AAS programs typically take a stronger focus on practical skills. AS programs usually concentrate more toward academic learning.
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Featured Online Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Associate in Paramedic Program?
Human Anatomy and Physiology
This required course introduces students to human body structures and their functions with an emphasis on negative feedback mechanisms. Some programs cover this material across multiple semester-length modules.
Emergency Patient Care: Medical
This course draws on knowledge gained from anatomy and physiology coursework. Students learn best practices and techniques for delivering emergency care to patients suffering acute medical episodes.
Emergency Patient Care: Trauma
Learners build lifesaving, prehospital first-response skills for assisting patients who have suffered serious and traumatic injuries. Coursework also covers airway management, oxygen and intravenous fluid administration, and crime scene awareness.
Degree-seekers build on previous coursework in learning to recognize and treat the symptoms of cardiovascular emergencies. The course requires students to master cardiopulmonary revival techniques endorsed by the American Heart Association.
Graduation candidates complete a supervised applied learning period in field settings with licensed paramedics. Participants initially perform support roles before gradually taking on increased levels of responsibility.
What Are Admission Requirements for an Online Associate in Paramedic Program?
Core admission requirements typically include the following:
- You must be at least 18 years of age.
- You must have a high school diploma or equivalent.
- You must be physically capable of performing all paramedic/EMT job duties.
Beyond these basic qualifications, schools vary in their standards. Some associate programs only accept applicants who have already completed a paramedicine diploma and/or already hold valid EMT licensure. Others require students to possess recognized basic emergency first aid credentials prior to enrollment.
These standards show the different educational objectives of various programs. Some associate in paramedic programs are designed for working first responders who want to enhance their knowledge and skills. Others are meant for beginners seeking to gain the knowledge needed to pursue initial licensure. Seek out learning opportunities that match your profile.
Additionally, many programs offer advanced standing to applicants with relevant professional experience as a first responder.
What Can I Do With an Online Associate in Paramedic Degree?
The BLS projects labor market demand for paramedics and EMTs will increase by 11% from 2020-2030. This outpaces the average projected growth rates for all professions. The BLS also projects there will be approximately 20,700 job openings each year for paramedics and EMTs from 2020-2030.
According to the BLS, several factors are fueling the expected rise in demand for medical emergency first responders. First, the BLS notes that the U.S. population is aging. This will prompt a corresponding rise in health emergencies associated with older age and declining health.
Additionally, the BLS cites increases in the number of specialized medical facilities operating in the United States as another growth-driving factor. More paramedics and EMTs will be needed as patients with particular medical conditions are transported to these facilities.
EMTs work in the field as first responders, usually in ambulances. They perform basic and intermediate medical interventions to stabilize patients suffering from acute illnesses or injuries en route to the hospital. EMTs respond to medical emergencies, accidents, natural disasters, and criminal acts of violence.
Average Annual Salary (as of November 2021): $44,000
Paramedics also serve as emergency medical first responders. However, they have more complete training and are able to perform more advanced and complex treatments than EMTs. Paramedics typically serve in leadership or supervisory roles in ambulances and on other first-response teams.
Average Annual Salary (as of November 2021): $50,760
Search and Rescue Medic
Search and rescue (SAR) medics are EMTs who participate in search and recovery missions involving lost or missing people. When search targets are located, SAR medics provide necessary prehospital medical care. Professionals seeking these roles may require additional training in SAR-specific techniques and best practices.
Median Annual Salary (as of May 2020): $36,650
Cardiovascular technologists usually work in healthcare facilities. Some also perform field duties and respond to emergency calls for assistance. These specialists assist doctors in diagnosing heart problems and provide medical aid to patients suffering from cardiac episodes. They also maintain specialized monitoring equipment, troubleshoot equipment problems, and refer faulty equipment for testing and repairs.
Average Annual Salary (as of November 2021): $66,300
Medical assistants prepare treatment facilities and equipment, interview patients, and perform basic medical tests such as monitoring vital signs. They also document patient information, update medical files, sterilize instruments, and administer basic medications. Some job settings include additional administrative duties.
Average Annual Salary (as of November 2021): $35,220
Paramedic Not for You? Check Out These Related Careers.
The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) notes that paramedics and EMTs must renew their licenses every two years. Some first responders opt to recertify through a continuing education path. This path includes targeted education in specialized practice areas including:
- Airway management, ventilation, and respiration
Voluntary continuing education programs in these areas are also readily available.
Paramedics and EMTs are known for having relatively high burnout and stress rates compared to those in nonmedical professions. As such, some opt to pursue additional degrees to expand their range of employment options beyond first-response field settings.
U.S. schools offer bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in paramedicine. These may appeal to those transitioning into non-frontline roles in paramedic education, paramedicine research, and other related fields.
How Do I Choose an Online Associate in Paramedic Program?
The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) regularly issues detailed reports on higher education costs in the United States. NCES data cites the following average annual costs for students who attended two-year U.S. institutions during the 2019-2020 academic year:
- Public institutions: $18,900
- Private nonprofit institutions: $34,100
- Private for-profit institutions: $31,200
These cost averages were for off-campus students not living with family. Those living with family reported significantly lower expenses. Students living on campus generally reported expenses comparable to those listed above.
Online associate in paramedic programs often deliver courses in asynchronous formats. However, some schools maintain synchronous online learning schedules at set times.
Learners can usually opt to study full time or part time, as they prefer. This applies to both traditional and online programs.
Associate in paramedic programs frequently offer accelerated completion timelines to learners with relevant experience. This usually includes licensed EMTs seeking educational upgrades along with firefighters, law enforcement officers, and military personnel.
The school's location plays a key role in the decision-making process. Instructors need to assess certain psychomotor skills and practical proficiencies. Under most circumstances, learners must fulfill these requirements in person.
Many associate in paramedic programs include field placements. These must also be completed in person. However, online learners enrolled in physically distant institutions can usually find local completion opportunities.
Prospective students must decide if an online or on-campus program is best for them.
You should only consider schools that hold valid national or regional accreditation. Experts generally prefer regional accreditation. Organizations authorized to issue it maintain higher overall standards than national accreditors.
Sometimes, state certification agencies formally endorse particular programs. Check with state accreditors or the NREMT to find highly regarded study options in your area.
As you evaluate schools, investigate their student support services. Depending on the institution, these may include:
2021 Best Accredited Online Associate in Paramedic Programs
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Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Paramedic Programs
Is an associate in paramedic degree worth it?
Paramedics who earn degrees tend to have more upward career mobility. You can become a paramedic by completing a diploma or certificate program and passing licensure tests. However, those with degrees tend to have deeper, more versatile knowledge that may lead to higher-level roles.
An associate in paramedic program also may provide a solid base for future educational upgrades. You can return to school to earn a bachelor's degree in paramedicine or a related first-response field. Some nursing programs also offer moderate levels of advanced standing to learners with educational backgrounds in paramedicine.
How fast can I get an associate in paramedic degree online?
Most associate programs in paramedic science consist of about 60 credits or 20 courses. Students without any previous postsecondary paramedic schooling usually need the equivalent of two academic years to graduate. This assumes a full-time study schedule.
However, institutions regularly offer advanced standing and accelerated learning options to students with relevant backgrounds. Licensed EMTs returning to school to become full paramedics usually qualify, as do other first responders. In some cases, such credentials can reduce typical completion timelines by 50% or more.
Is an online associate in paramedic degree credible?
The value of campus-based and online associate in paramedic degrees is tied to the host institution's accreditation status. Research the school's accreditation standing and look for a national or regional endorsement from a recognized body.
You can also source credible learning opportunities through state-level licensing boards. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians also offers resources to prospective students seeking information on quality academic programs.
How much money can I make with an associate in paramedic?
Payscale places the average annual salary for a person working in emergency medical services at $53,000, as of December 2021. The same data set listed $36,000-$78,000 as the annual salary range for paramedics.
Multiple factors have an impact on earning potential, including location and experience. As of March 2021, the BLS reported that eight of the 10 highest-paying regions for EMTs were in California or Washington state. The BLS also found that paramedics working in hospitals tended to earn slightly more than those working for ambulance services.
Is an associate in paramedic degree in demand?
An associate degree may give job-seekers an advantage as demand for paramedics and EMTs grows. The BLS projects above-average employment growth of 11% for these first responders between 2020 and 2030.
You do not necessarily need a degree to become a paramedic or EMT. However, degree programs can deliver deeper, more detailed knowledge that may serve candidates well on licensing examinations.
Paramedics and EMTs who hold degrees also tend to have an easier time transitioning into other career paths. This potentially includes jobs like physician's assistants and medical assistants. Labor market demand for both of these careers appears poised to surge during the 2020-2030 period.
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