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The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook details working conditions, training, employment and job outlook for emergency medical technicians and paramedics.

For detailed information on the differences between EMTs and paramedics, see the

Working Environment

Because emergency services function 24 hours a day, EMTs and paramedics have irregular working hours. The working environment for this rewarding and challenging field includes:

  • Working both indoors and outdoors, in all types of weather
  • Kneeling, bending and heavy lifting of patients and equipment
  • Exposure to infectious diseases such as hepatitis-B and HIV
  • Making quick decisions in life-and-death situations
  • Receiving unpredictable reactions from patients who are stressed and in pain
  • Communicating effectively to determine what is wrong and how to proceed with treatment

For realistic information on job duties and working conditions, check out:

Certification Levels

Beyond the general duties listed, specific responsibilities of EMTs and paramedics depend on their level of qualification and training. To determine this, the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians registers emergency medical service (EMS) providers at four levels. Some states, including Texas, also offer their own certification.

  • First responders are trained to provide basic emergency medical care because they tend to be the first people to arrive at the scene of an incident. Many firefighters, police officers and other emergency workers have this level of training.
  • EMT-basic, also known as EMT-1, represents the first component of the emergency medical technician system. An EMT-1 is trained to care for patients at the scene of an accident and while transporting patients by ambulance to the hospital under medical direction. The EMT-1 has the emergency skills to assess a patient’s condition and manage respiratory, cardiac and trauma emergencies.
  • EMT-intermediate (EMT-2 and EMT-3) has more advanced training that allows the administration of intravenous fluids, the use of manual defibrillators to give lifesaving shocks to a stopped heart and the application of advanced airway techniques and equipment to assist patients experiencing respiratory emergencies.
  • EMT-paramedics (EMT-4) provide the most extensive prehospital care. In addition to carrying out all of the above procedures, paramedics may administer drugs orally and intravenously, interpret electrocardiograms (EKGs), perform endotracheal intubations and use monitors and other complex equipment.

Employment Opportunities

The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook details working conditions, training, employment and job outlook for EMT and paramedic occupations. Job opportunities include working with:

  • Private ambulance services
  • Fire departments
  • Police departments
  • Emergency 911 services
  • Hospitals

EMTs and Paramedics

Advancement beyond the EMT-paramedic level usually means leaving fieldwork. An EMT-paramedic can become a supervisor, operations manager, administrative director or executive director of emergency services.

Some EMTs and paramedics become instructors, dispatchers or physician assistants, while others move into sales or marketing of emergency medical equipment. A number of people become EMTs and paramedics to assess their interest in health care and then decide to return to school and become registered nurses, physicians or other health workers.

Firefighters

The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook details working conditions, training, employment and job outlook for firefighting occupations.

Firefighters work in a variety of settings, including:

  • Airport fire teams
  • Chemical plant and other industrial site fire teams
  • Emergency medical service (EMS) units
  • Hazardous materials units
  • National park and forest fire teams
  • Urban and rural fire departments

Between alarms, firefighters clean and maintain equipment, conduct practice drills and fire inspections, and participate in physical fitness activities. They also prepare written reports on fire incidents and review fire science literature to keep abreast of technological developments and changing administrative practices and policies.

Prospective firefighters are expected to face keen competition for available job openings. Applicants with the best opportunities are those who are physically fit and score the highest on physical conditioning and mechanical aptitude exams. Those who have completed some firefighter education at a community college and have EMT certification will have an advantage in the job search.

Salaries and Projected Job Growth

While projected job grown for emergency medical technicians and paramedics is about 9 percent across the nation through 2016, it’s estimated to reach 28 percent in Texas.

According to America’s Career Infonet, salaries for the following occupations in Texas are:

Job Median Hourly Rate Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Through 2018
EMTs and paramedics $13.47 $28,000 +26%
Firefighters $21.23 $44,200 +30%