Paramedics are trained to save people's lives by responding to emergency situations and assisting other emergency personnel in the event of an accident. Paramedics typically work for ambulance service, emergency departments of a hospital and other medical institutions to resuscitate, assess and transport patients in need. If you are already working in the medical services industry as an EMT or other medical professional and are wondering how to become a paramedic, talk to your school's counselor about the additional training you need to get paramedic certification. If you don't have any educational or work experience in this field, you will need to begin your educational training with an EMT-Basic program.

Steps on How to Become a Paramedic

1. Find an accredited paramedic training program. The first step to becoming a paramedic is to find an accredited paramedic training program, or EMT-Paramedic program, in your area. Most training and certification programs are offered by state colleges or universities, hospitals and community colleges. Make sure that the program you enroll in is accredited and certified. In some cases, courses may lead to an associate's degree in a related field.

2. Complete an EMT program. You will need to complete at least the EMT-Basic and EMT-Intermediate program before you can enroll in a paramedic training program. If you already have EMT certification, find out if the school offers an EMT to Paramedic bridge program. The amount of training required before you can enter a paramedic program varies from state to state. Some states only require you to have three levels of certification before you can get your paramedic license, while others require four or five levels. Most states require that a paramedic has completed at least 1200 hours of EMT training, which includes clinical experience and/or an internship.

3. Apply for a paramedic license through your state's health department. Contact your state's health department to find out how to take the paramedic certification exam and get your license.

4. Keep your license up to date. Your state may require you to take refresher courses or continuing education courses every two years to maintain your license. Make sure you are aware of the continuing education requirements so that you can continue working as a certified paramedic.

Becoming a Paramedic - Things to Consider

The amount of training you receive at paramedic school will determine what types of tasks you will be assigned on the job. Most paramedic training programs run between 18 and 24 months, and you will need to complete several hundred hours of didactic training and clinical training in order to be certified. These programs are built upon EMT training programs, so if you have already completed EMT-Basic and EMT-II/EMT-III training, you will be able to enter the EMT-Paramedic program fairly easily.

Some of the most common tasks and procedures a paramedic is responsible for include:

  • Administering drugs intravenously or orally
  • Interpreting EKG results
  • Performing endotracheal intubulations
  • Assessing patients after an injury or accident
  • Using complex computer equipment
  • Lifting and transporting patients
  • Working with nurses, firefighters, emergency personnel and physicians

Since the training program for paramedics typically involves long hours and 12-hour or longer shifts, a portion of the training is paid. Once you have completed all of your clinical training and fieldwork, you will be able to sit for the official paramedic certification exam.