Emergency medical technicians loading an ambulance as they go through the steps to become a paramedic

People who want to work in emergency medicine have several options. They can either choose to become an emergency medical technician or go on and take the additional steps towards being a paramedic. What are the differences? A paramedic can perform more advanced procedures, such as inserting IVs and clearing airways.

Wondering how can someone who’s starting out at the bottom become a paramedic? These easy-to-follow steps will ensure you’re heading down the right path.

1. Become an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT)

It all starts with training to become an emergency medical technician, or EMT for short. EMTs are the lowest level in emergency medicine, but they still play a very important role in saving lives. Throughout EMT training, students will learn how to stop blood flow, check airways, bandage various types of wounds and more. Many schools intend for EMTs to move on to become paramedics, so the introduction to some of the more advanced skills is often covered as well. However, those skills will not be as detailed as they will be in paramedic school.

2. Work Enough Hours to Be Able to Apply to Paramedic School

You can’t go straight from obtaining for EMT license to paramedic school. Instead, you need to spend some time on the job, getting hands-on experience for a set number of hours before you can apply. Once you meet the criteria, which include those hours worked, getting some referrals and more, you can apply to train as a paramedic. If you’re accepted, you’ll spend your evenings and weekends in paramedic school, learning both in the classroom and in the lab.

3. Complete Your Paramedic Training with an Externship

Next, you’ll need some hands-on training as a paramedic before you can take the final paramedic licensing exam. Depending on the location, this can include around 500 hours on the job, fine-tuning your skills in person. Your externship is normally held with a city paramedic or emergency medicine department, but may take place at a hospital doing quick triage for the emergency department. Once your externship is completed, you can move on the next step.

4. Pass the Paramedic Exam

Yes, the next step is an exam. The paramedic exam consists of a number of problem-solving questions. The time that you spent in the classroom, as well as in your externship, prepare you for this crucial test. Once the exam is passed, as long as you meet the other criteria, such as successfully completing an externship, you’ll officially be a paramedic and can work in the field.

Keep in mind that paramedics need to renew their licenses every few years, and this requires both classroom learning and additional exams.

Do You Want to Become a Paramedic?

If you want to become a paramedic, then consider the emergency medical training courses available at Dean College. With both an EMT and a paramedic track, you’ll be able to start off on the ground floor of your new career and quickly move on the next steps: becoming a paramedic in the fast-paced world of emergency medicine.