Do you think that emergency medical technicians earn too much money or not enough? Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are the first responders at hospitals and healthcare facilities. Despite their life-saving role, EMTs don’t make as much money as other medical professionals. However, the barrier to entry is much lower than for a doctor or nurse, which makes this an appealing career option for many interested in emergency care.
This article will tell you about the average EMT salary in every state you can expect to earn, the job description and the minimum requirements to start a career in this field.
If you’re interested in an intense, fast-paced job with life-or-death stakes and a true feeling of accomplishment, read on to learn more about how to get a job in emergency medical services focused on patient care and how much money you can expect to earn in the field as an EMT.
What Is An EMT, And What Do They Do?
The role of an EMT is to provide basic life support services, including CPR, defibrillation, airway management, and medication administration. They are medical professionals who specialize in emergency medical situations. They are usually the first to attend the scene of serious accidents and injuries.
An Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) is a first responder trained in life-saving emergency medicine. Most EMTs are employed by private ambulance services, fire departments, hospitals, or police departments. They may also work for government and military organizations.
Emergency medicine aims to stabilize patients’ condition long enough to get them to a hospital. This means that EMTs don’t spend much time diagnosing or treating illnesses. Instead, they focus on vital treatments like maintaining a patient’s airways, addressing bleeding, preventing shock, and administering certain life-saving drugs and treatments like CPR.
Some first responders choose to receive EMT training in addition to their other career fields. For example, you can be a firefighter/EMT or a police officer/EMT. These individuals usually make more money due to the added level of training, so their average EMT salary in every state is noticeably higher.
This is one reason you might find a fire truck dispatched to a medical emergency; the odds are good that most of the firefighters on board are also trained EMTs. Paramedics have received additional specialized training and can do more on the job.
Minimum Requirements To Be An EMT
You can become an EMT without a college degree. Individuals with a high school diploma or GED can pursue formal EMT training, which makes it one of the easiest and quickest medical fields to break into.
There are three levels of EMT training:
This covers tasks like triage, wound stabilization, cardiac emergencies, and respiratory emergencies.
This requires you to pass basic training and then receive an additional 30 to 350 training hours, depending on the state and your specific situation. At the intermediate level, you will be able to start IVs and provide medication.
This program is usually offered as a two-year degree program at community colleges. To become licensed, Paramedics must pass the NREMT (National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians) exam. All emergency medical service programs combine classroom-based coursework and on-the-job training. After learning the basics, new EMTs will be paired with more experienced teams and sent on a “ride-along” for fieldwork and additional training. This will give you a good taste of what life on the job is like so you can decide whether you wish to continue pursuing it.
In total, an EMT receives about 120 to 150 hours of training before receiving a license. A paramedic may clock up to 1,800 hours of training. While many people who train as EMTs go on to become paramedics, it is not essential.
You can work as an EMT indefinitely or continue your studies toward a paramedic license at a later date. Most people who become paramedics work as EMTs to support themselves while studying for a more advanced license.
Life As An EMT
Working as an EMT can be incredibly rewarding. It can also be a high-stress environment. While you probably already know that the job often comes with life-or-death stakes, you may not be as familiar with the other aspects of day-to-day life awaiting you as an EMT.
These include unusual work hours and schedules.
How Long Are EMT Shifts?
The shifts available for an EMT will vary depending on the company you work for. Some ambulance services offer regular 8-hour or 10-hour shifts, which are scheduled four or five days per week.
However, it’s not uncommon to see shifts that are 12-hour, 16-hour, 24-hour, or even longer than that.
If you work a 24-hour shift, you will be “on-call” during that period. This usually means spending time in the ambulance or at the station and fitting in, eating, and sleeping between calls.
How busy you will be on a shift depends on where you live, how much EMS coverage there is in that area, and other factors affecting public safety.
In some cases, as an EMT, you may not be paid for hours spent sleeping or idle on the job. For example, if the job allows you to go home while on-call or if it sets aside scheduled blocks of five or more hours for sleep breaks, that time may be unpaid.
However, the Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that employees be compensated for their time at work even if that time is idle if the employee must stay on-call and on-site.
Do EMTs Get Days Off?
Most EMTs and paramedics work long shifts separated by long breaks. For example, you may work 24 hours “on” followed by 24 hours “off” with up to a week between on/off cycles. Another standard schedule for medical professionals is to work three long shifts followed by four days off.
This can be confusing for people accustomed to working a 9-to-5 job, but many EMTs love the flexibility of these work schedules as they can provide more leisure time than a standard two-day weekend.
Do EMTs Have Set Schedules?
As noted above, EMT schedules usually differ from the standard office job. These schedules can also change and rotate from one week to the next.
For example, you may have two 24-hour shifts one week, a few days off, and then three or four 12-hour shifts. If your total hours for a week exceed 40, your employer will be required to pay overtime wages for the difference.
The flexible nature of work hours in medical professions can be a blessing or a curse depending on your preferences. Some people enjoy having variety in their schedules, especially since it allows days off during the week for running errands or shopping during non-peak hours.
Others find the erratic scheduling to be a challenge for things like securing childcare or managing hobbies. Maintaining a healthy sleep schedule amidst frequent shift changes is another major concern for many EMS workers.
How Much Does It Pay To Be An EMT?
Wages for an EMT vary by location and experience. In general, areas with a high cost of living will receive higher wages than those who live in more affordable cities.
Other factors, such as the amount of time you’ve worked with one employer, your level of education, and the specific ambulance company or hospital that employs you, will also factor into your wages and total compensation.
How Much Does An EMT Basic Make An Hour?
According to Salary.com, the average annual salaries reported for EMTs are between $32,860 and $40,760 nationwide. This works out to an average of $16 to $20 per hour. In comparison, Salary.com places a paramedic’s annual wage between $38,722 and $49,143, or an average of $21 an hour. However, paramedics can earn significantly more with time and experience; EMTs usually max out their earning potential at approximately $22/hr wage.
Where Do EMTs Get Paid The Most?
As with most career fields, EMTs earn the highest wages in areas with a high service demand. States with a high cost of living compared to the national average may also tend to have higher salaries. Before you move to a new region in search of a better-paying job, consider the relative costs of housing, food, travel, and other necessities.
You may find that the high wages offered usually means that there is a lower buying power.
Based on average wages reported by Zip Recruiter and confirmed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the highest-paid EMT jobs are in Washington, where EMTs average $22.32 an hour. The lowest-paid EMTs are in North Carolina, where the average pay is $13.59 an hour or $28,268 annually.
These figures are current as of 2023, but they may not accurately reflect the field as they are based on user-reported income. Consider the figures more like ballpark estimates or guidelines for your state.
Average EMT Salary Broken Down By State
Below is the average EMT salary in every state, as reported by Zip Recruiter, ranked from highest to lowest.
|State||Annual Salary||Monthly Pay||Weekly Pay||Hourly Wage|
Why Is EMT Pay So Low?
Considering the high-stress work environment and vital nature of emergency services, you might be surprised to see the wages for EMTs are so low, especially compared to other medical professions. Many EMTs are overworked and underpaid, bringing in wages that aren’t much higher than those in service industries like fast food or retail.
Why are EMT wages so low? There are a few reasons:
It’s a job widely viewed as a stepping-stone to something better. Although many people stay as EMTs for all their working lives, most of them go on to become licensed paramedics or even pursue education toward becoming doctors, nurses, and other higher-paid medical professionals.
Local governments do not set aside enough money for emergency services, and private ambulance services risk being priced out of the market if they charge more. Similarly, insurance companies are unwilling to pay as much for ambulance services as other medical expenses. All of this reduces profits, which has a direct impact on the employees’ wages.
Certification to become an EMT is a relatively quick process, and there is a low barrier to entry when compared to other jobs. There is also minimal room for advancement within the role, so career-minded people often move on to other things rather than staying in place and receiving raises.
In some areas, especially rural communities, EMS roles are staffed by volunteers. This makes it even harder to secure a living wage as an EMT since others are willing to do the work for free.
Can You Make Good Money As An EMT?
It’s unlikely that you’ll ever earn a fortune working as an EMT in emergency medical services, but securing a stable living on the job is possible. Salaries aren’t set in stone, and you can squeeze more money out of your career as an EMT. There are a few ways you can boost your income and meet or exceed the high-end earnings estimates for your area:
You can pick up extra hours. If you’re able to do it safely, working more than 40 hours per week can pad your paycheck. In most cases, overtime pay is 1.5 times your usual hourly rate. You may also receive a shift differential or higher pay for sub-optimal shifts such as overnights.
You can pick up a second job. This doesn’t mean moonlighting as a delivery driver, either. There are plenty of gigs for trained EMTs. Working as a standby medic for an event or teaching a CPR class can earn you some extra money.
You can pursue higher education. Putting in the hours to receive your paramedic license is worthwhile, even if the initial pay boost isn’t that much. Your experience and knowledge will give you more bargaining power if you seek another employer.
If you have positive work experience and know that you bring value to your employer, you can ask for a raise. Your boss may be unable to extend one, but you’ll never know unless you try.
Can You Live Off An EMT Salary?
Whether you can make a living as an EMT depends largely on your expenses and standard of living. If you’re trying to be the sole provider for a large family, it will be hard to make ends meet as an EMT.
However, if you are a bachelor, have a spouse with a good job, live an affordable lifestyle, or otherwise keep your expenses low, you can live comfortably on an EMT salary.
Do Paramedics Make More Than An EMT?
Paramedics have more education and experience, so that they can earn more money than EMTs. Paramedics are licensed medical providers who provide critical care and similar treatments to what a patient might receive from an emergency room technician. These treatments include advanced life-saving measures like using a defibrillator, administering drugs, inserting an IV line, and intubating a patient.
EMTs, on the other hand, are first responders. They’re the people who arrive first at a scene to stabilize a patient, assess the severity of the situation, and provide some basic life-saving treatments, such as administering CPR or giving glucose to a diabetic patient.
The average annual salary of a paramedic is about $40,000, but experienced medics in some places can earn double that. EMT pay averages between $33,000 to $50,000 per year on average.
Several factors can affect this pay, including the state of employment and the company a person works for. The average EMT salary in every state can be progressively higher than when they initially started out as an EMT.
Many EMTs choose to receive a paramedic certification. In order to receive it, the student would need to study both basic and advanced EMT studies as well as supplementary courses. There is also on-the-job training to work, though.
Are EMTs In Demand?
Like all medical professions, emergency medical services have stable demand. Employment is expected to grow 7% between 2023 and 2028, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
Finding work as an EMT is easy, and securing a job is generally as simple as completing the required training programs.
Most Popular Companies Hiring EMTs
Hospitals, government agencies, private ambulance companies, police departments, and fire departments are among the most popular companies hiring EMTs and paramedics. These companies employ most EMTs and paramedics.
Many private ambulances specialize in transport rather than emergency response. AMR, or American Medical Response, is one of the best-known companies operating ambulances in cities nationwide. First responders are more likely to be paid by local or municipal governments.
If you are interested in the medical field and want a job that can be entered with minimal formal education, becoming an EMT might be suitable for you. You’ll also join the field with substantially less debt. Although you won’t make as much money as a doctor with an EMT salary, working as an EMT does offer stable employment and a rewarding career path despite the relatively average EMT salary in every state.
The fast-paced work environment, flexible schedule, and tight-knit community with other first responders help to make this job appealing despite the low pay. Many people view their work as an EMT as a calling as much as a career, and there are medics in the field who have been working the same job for decades.
What Is An EMT?
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) is a first responder trained in life-saving emergency medicine. Most EMTs are employed by private ambulance services, fire departments, hospitals or police departments. They may also work for government and military organizations.
How Much Does An EMT Basic Make An Hour?
The average annual salaries reported for EMTs are between $32,860 and $40,760 nationwide. This works out to an average of $16 to $20 per hour.
Where Do EMTs Get Paid The Most?
The highest-paid EMT jobs are in Washington, where EMTs average $22.32 an hour or $46,422 annually.
How Much Does An EMT Basic Make Annually?
The average annual salary for EMTs are between $28,268 and $46,422 nationwide. The national average medical technician salary is $40,326 /year.