What is a Paramedic

Paramedics are health care professionals who are the first responders of 911 calls and provide emergency medical services to patients in need. For more on job description, please visit our paramedic job description page.

Work Environment

Over 50% of paramedics works for ambulatory services. They work both indoors and outdoors under any type of weather conditions. Most career EMTs and paramedics work in metropolitan areas, compared to volunteer EMTs and paramedics that are more common in small towns and rural areas. Work-related injuries and illness are especially high among paramedics because they are required to do a lot of physical work, including lifting people on to stretchers, and potentially have a higher degree of exposure to contagious diseases, such as hepatitis B and HIV.

Work Schedule

Paramedics usually work full time. One third of paramedics actually work a lot more than 40 hours per week. It is common to see overnight and weekend shifts.

Paramedic Salary

Mean Annual Paramedic Salary

The average annual paramedic salary is $34,870. The average salary is calculated by adding all the wages within the occupation and dividing that value by the total number of employees. Lowest 10% of this occupation makes less than $20,420 and the top 10% makes over $54,710.

Paramedic Salary: Quick Summary

2013 Mean Salary$34,870 per year
$16.77 per hour
Top 10% Salary$54,710 per year
$26.30 per hour
Bottom 10% Salary$20,420 per year
$9.82 per hour
Number of Jobs, 2013237,660

Paramedic Job Outlook and Prospects

The demand for paramedics will continue to rise in the upcoming years with a growth of 23%, or 55,300 new jobs projected by the US Bureau Labor of Statistics. Factors that will contribute to growth are an increased rate of car accidents, diseases, violence, and natural disasters. Emergency medical service agencies find it increasingly difficult to retain unpaid volunteers; consequently, more paid paramedics will be needed.

What Affects The Paramedic Salary

In the past three years alone, the median annual wage of paramedics and EMTs has increased from $33,020 to $34,870. While this might seem like a minor difference, it is an increase of over 2%, making the future prospect of further wage increases more likely as the job market increases as well.

However, it is important to remember that not all paramedics will make the same amount of money. In fact, salaries for both paramedics and EMTs vary according to a wide range of factors including experience, education, industry, and location.


Because completing a licensing program is the only education or certification required to work as a paramedic, the primary driving force of increased wages is experience. Working in the profession for a long time can result in significant pay increases, especially if it leads to the development of more specialized skills for work in a less concentrated industry 


Education is crucial in determining a paramedic’s salary. There are three primary levels of training and certifications: EMT-Basic, EMT Intermediate and Paramedic. With Paramedic being at the top of the emergency care profession, these individuals generally earn the highest income averaging over $50,000 a year. Graduates of advanced training in Paramedic usually have to go through at least 1000 hours of classroom and clinical training before certification. These individuals have more knowledge, as a result, they are exposed to more job opportunities and higher salary.


Like many other healthcare industries, finding work in a smaller, more specialized sector is extremely important to earn a higher salary. While almost exactly half of all paramedics work in ambulatory care services, those earning the most are working in more abstract industries such as heavy and civil engineering construction, waste treatment and disposal, and state government. This makes finding work in a more unique industry essential for a salary above the mean annual wage.


While salaries do differ by location, there isn’t a general location within the United States that possesses the most significant number of top paying positions. Most of the states with the highest paid paramedics and EMTs are on both coasts, however some Midwestern states with larger metropolitan areas also have more top paying positions. This is what accounts for the wide range of highest paying states including the District of Columbia, Alaska, Washington, Illinois, and Maryland.

The majority of top paying metropolitan areas are found within the highest paying states including Washington and Illinois, earning individuals yearly salaries ranging from $47,850 to $69,140 and more. Nonmetropolitan locations that pay the highest wages to their paramedics and EMTs are also located within these states, particularly Washington and Alaska. This suggests that states with the most pressing need for skilled paramedics and EMTs in various industries are those that also pay these professionals the highest wages.

Paramedic Salary: Top 5

Top Paying Metropolitan AreasTop Paying StatesTop Paying IndustriesStates with Highest Employment Level
Tacoma, WA: $69,140District of Columbia: $52,930Other Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction: $54,180California: (16,960 jobs) $34,210
San Francisco, CA: $66,460Alaska: $51,570Waste Treatment and Disposal: $50,180New York: (15,470 jobs) $39,210
Olympia, WA: $66,210Washington: $50,980State Government: $48,120Pennsylvania: (13,840 jobs) $32,210
Bremerton-Silverdale, WA: $66,210Illinois: $48,350Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping and Payroll Services: $47,450Texas: (13,290 jobs) $31,980
Chicago, IL: $57,170Maryland: $42,410Other Amusement and Recreation Industries: $46,980Illinois: (12,670 jobs) $48,350

paramedic salary state by state 2013