EMT Salary: How Much and Where EMTs Can Make The Best Money

Photo By: Paul Long
Used with permission via Creative Commons 2.0

Professional Description of EMS Providers

Emergency Medical Service Providers are the backbone of emergency medicine. Many individuals are sick and injured outside of the hospital setting and it is sometimes necessary for trained professionals to render aid before a patient reaches a hospital emergency room.

The 911 system relies on EMTs and Paramedics to respond to medical emergencies. The world of EMS is generally divided into 2 levels of response. BLS providers such as EMTs provide basic life support.

EMTs render rapid care and transport to the sick and injured. They are skilled in the use of AED’s and are CPR certified. EMT-Basics also are skilled in trauma management such as bleeding control, shock management, splinting, and bandaging, as well as C-Spine immobilization and vehicle extraction techniques.

Further, EMTs are required to know airway management up to and including such techniques as the jaw-thrust maneuver, head-tilt chin lift, and insertion of airway adjuncts.

ALS providers, known as Paramedics, can provide all the previously mentioned care, but also have the option and ability to render advanced care. This care includes EKGs, Cardiac Monitoring, Medication Administration, and Endotracheal Intubation.

Paramedics can perform many life-saving techniques once only possible in an Emergency Room setting. Many fire departments as well as ER’s employ Paramedic level providers due to the depth of knowledge they possess in an emergency setting.

Click Here for further information on the Emergency Medical field.

For those interested in learning how to become a Paramedic, they may read this complete guide on becoming a Paramedic.

How Much Does an EMT Make?

According to PayScale, the average EMT-Basic will make around $11.55/hr. On the low end, an EMT-Basic can make as little as $9.00/hr. However, on the high-end of the pay scale, a Basic can make around $15/hr. It is encouraged that an EMT-Basics use this as an entry point into the medical field.

Many higher-tier Medical Jobs require applicants to have a certain number of patient contact hours. Typically this can be done through physician shadows. These shadows are unpaid. By working as an EMT while attending school, students can have a paying job as well as gain valuable patient contact hours while they finish prerequisite courses.

Payscale has an excellent chart to illustrate this.

How Much Does a Paramedic Make?

Wages for Paramedic level providers are higher than those of EMT-Basics. PayScale has the average wages for Paramedics listed at $16.27/hr on average. The lowest wages sit at $12.06/hr and medics can make up to $22.78/hr on the high end of pay.

Yearly wages range from $28,049 – $58,477. As with EMT-Basic, Paramedic is a good job to help a person either enter higher levels of Allied Health Care. Many Fire Departments also require their firefighters to be Paramedics. If a person also possesses police training in addition to fire and paramedic training, they also have the option of becoming a Public Safety Officer.

A paramedic is also a good route for those seeking to become a Registered Nurse. With many schools having multi-year waitlists, a Medic can work, and get enrolled into a Medic to RN bridge program, thus bypassing the waitlist.

It is recommended that a BSN (Bachelor’s of Nursing) is pursued after obtaining an ASN (Associate of Nursing) through a bridge program. However, it should be noted that being a Paramedic is a calling. Here is a similar career progression chart for Paramedics from Payscale.

Highest Paying Industries for EMS Workers

A career in EMS is usually a foot in the door to other careers. Above are charts showing typical career progression into healthcare when starting as an EMT or Paramedic. The next logical question for people that are seeking a higher paying job is, what industries pay the most for EMTs and Paramedics?

This list will include direct jobs an EMT or Paramedic can take as well as the highest paying careers that an emergency worker can aspire to when they return to school or seek additional education.

Top 5 Highest Paying Industries for EMTs

JobYearly PayAdditional Training Required
1. Physician Assistant$87,000/yrBachelors Degree, Completion of PA School
2. Registered Nurse$53,000/yrCompletion of Nursing School
3. Fire Fighter$46,000/yrFire training, many volunteer departments train for free.
4. Security Guard EMT$28,000/yrMay require CPL, or other security based training.
5. Emergency Room Technition$25,000/yrNone

Top 5 Highest Paying Industries for Paramedics

JobYearly PayAdditional Training
1. Physician Assistant$87,000/yrBachelors Degree, Completion of PA School
2. Offshore Paramedic$86,000/yrHazmat Training
3. S.W.A.T. Medic$75,000/yrCompletion of Police Academy, SWAT Training, ETC
4. Fire Fighter Paramedic$66,000/yrCompletion of Fire School
5. Registered Nurse$53,000/yrCompletion of Nursing School

Top 10 Best Places to Work for EMTs and Paramedics in the US

In 2015 GoodCall put together a list of the top 10 best places to work in the EMS field. GoodCall is a data collection firm that puts together impressive collections of data. Their top ten is not only based upon income but also based on other factors such as the housing index, available amenities, cost of living, and employer attractiveness. All of this data is compiled and assigned a GoodCall score. All of this data can be found HERE.

CityStateAverage Salary Per Year
1. AmesIowa$44,430
2. Lexington-FayetteKentucky$46,540
3. AmarilloTexas$42,510
4. Baton RougeLouisiana$44,380
5. Santa Cruz-WatsonvilleCalifornia$53,480
6. Seattle-Tacoma-BellevueWashington$63,450
7. Kennewick-RichlandWashington$53,480
8. Olympia-TumwaterWashington$57,270
9. YumaArizona$46,280
10. PuebloColorado$39,560

Responsive Table by GoodCall.

EMT and Paramedic Job Outlook

According to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, The national average median pay for EMTs and Paramedics was $31,980 per year or about $15.38 per hour in 2015. It is an entry-level job in the medical field that requires no previous experience.

However, completion of a state-approved EMS course and the passing of a licensing test is required. In 2014 approximately 241,200 people were working in the field. The area of Emergency Medical Services is expected to grow by 24% between 2014 and 2024. The job outlook is good.

It is growing at a fast rate. As more of the US population ages, there will be a demand for skilled emergency response personnel to render pre-hospital care to the sick.


The field of Emergency Medical Services is a fast-growing career. It is a stable job choice and can lead to other allied health fields that offer better pay. There is also the added benefit of no day being the same. The call types may be similar but, unlike a factory job, no day on shift is the same as the one before.

EMS professionals are looked upon in a positive light as well. It is generally understood that people riding in the ambulance are there to help and not hinder.

Thank you for reading. If this article was helpful to you, please comment, share and subscribe for more.