Online EMS & Paramedic Degree Programs

In a crisis situation, Emergency Medical Service (EMS) and paramedic personnel must respond quickly to avert disasters, save lives, and restore crucial services. EMS and paramedic positions usually require candidates to complete a high school education and vocational training before taking the necessary licensing exam. In addition to the right education, the following attributes are essential for EMS and paramedic professionals:

  • Emotional stability
  • Excellent dexterity, agility, and physical coordination
  • Ability to lift and carry heavy loads
  • Good eyesight with accurate color vision

Physically Demanding EMS and Paramedic Positions

The work of EMS and paramedic professionals can be strenuous and stressful. However, most find the rewards associated with saving lives outweigh the physical and emotional demands of this job. Paramedics must work both outdoors and indoors, in all weather conditions, and at any time of the day or night. Often, they're subjected to perilous fire, disaster, or highway conditions where their own lives are at risk.

EMS personnel and paramedics are trained in the use of medical diagnostic and treatment equipment, including backboards, oxygen, and vital signs monitors. Depending on training, paramedics may perform on-site emergency medical procedures, assessing patient conditions prior to emergency transport. They then monitor the patient until delivery to a hospital emergency room or clinic.

EMS and Paramedic Career Training

Online programs in EMS, paramedic, and fire and emergency services are offered across a range of degrees, including certificate, associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees. There are conversion programs online that prepare paramedics for work as registered nurses or train emergency medical technicians (EMTs) for work in EMS management.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports there are distinct EMT training and certification designations accepted by most of the states: First Responder; EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate, and Paramedic. EMT Paramedics are trained and certified to perform the most extensive patient care, including tracheal intubations, electrocardiograms, and the oral and intravenous administration of drugs. All states require EMT certifications for all levels.

Basic-level online coursework often focuses on emergency skills for assessing and stabilizing blocked respiration and other trauma conditions. You may also learn how to respond to emergency childbirths, airway obstructions, or cardiac arrests.

EMS and Paramedic Professionals at Work

According to the BLS, more than 201,000 paramedics and EMTs are employed throughout the country. Many are employed by EMS and private ambulance companies, local government agencies, or fire departments. Approximately 30 percent of EMTs belong to a union.

Because health-related emergencies will become more frequent as city population densities increase, demand for EMS and paramedic specialists will probably rise in the coming years. Job growth is expected to remain steady, with a 19 percent increase in positions during the 2006-2016 decade. The best prospects will be for EMTs and paramedics who hold advanced degrees, training credentials, and certifications.

The median annual wage in 2007 for EMS and paramedic professionals was $28,400, with higher end salaries topping $47,480.