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Emergency Medical Technician: Salary and Employment Outlook

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Average earnings of emergency medical technicians and paramedics depend on the geographic location and employment setting, as well as the individualís experience and training. Median annual earnings of EMTs and paramedics in 2002 were $24,030. The middle 50 percent of EMTs earned between $19,040 and $31,600. The highest 10 percent earned in excess of $41,980 and the lowest 10 percent earned less than $15,530. Median annual earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of EMTs and paramedics in 2002 were:

Local government $27,440
General medical and surgical hospitals $24,760
Other ambulatory health care services $22,180

Personnel in emergency medical services who are part of fire departments receive the same benefits as firefighters. For example, many are covered by pension plans that provide retirement at half pay after 20 or 25 years of service or if the worker is disabled in the line of duty.

Employment of paramedics and EMTs is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through the year 2012. Factors such as urbanization and population growth will increase the demand for full-time paid paramedics and EMTs versus volunteers. Additionally, a large segment of the population ó aging baby boomers ó will further encourage demand for emergency medical services as they become more likely to have medical problems such as heart disease and stroke. There will still be demand for part-time and volunteer EMTs in suburban and more rural areas. Some workers leave the occupation because of stress and difficult working conditions, lack of advancement potential, and the relatively low pay and benefits in private-sector EMS jobs.

The greatest number of opportunities for paramedics and EMTs are expected to found in private ambulance services. Competition will be greatest for jobs in local government, including fire departments and independent "third-service" rescue squad departments, where salaries and benefits tend to be more attractive. Opportunities will be best for those who have advanced certifications, such as EMT-Intermediate or EMT-Paramedic, as patients demand more advanced levels of care in their home and during transport to the hospital.

Statistics: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2004-05 Edition, Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics.

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