Paramedic & EMT Schools & Programs

April 27, 2021 • 6 Min Read

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Training, Earning Potential and Resources for Emergency Medical Providers

In medical emergency situations, paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) are often the first responders who work to make sure people are safe and receiving proper care. Frequently working in life-or-death situations, their jobs are high-stakes and can be stressful, but they pay off with rewarding work and can lead to a variety of other career opportunities. Those looking to begin their careers as EMTs or paramedics should start by exploring different degree and training options, and learning about the steps involved to become an emergency medical response professional.

Best Paramedic EMT Programs

#1 Creighton University Omaha, NE
#2 University of South Alabama Mobile, AL
#3 The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio San Antonio, TX
#4 University of Maryland-Baltimore County Baltimore, MD
#5 Utah Valley University Orem, UT
#6 Anna Maria College Paxton, MA
#7 University of New Haven West Haven, CT
#8 Lewis-Clark State College Lewiston, ID
#9 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY
#10 Siena Heights University Adrian, MI is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Top Online Programs

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Best Paramedic EMT Programs


To be considered for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria:

  • Accredited at the institutional level
  • Private nonprofit or public school
  • Minimum of 1 bachelor’s or master’s degree in subject area for 4-year schools
  • Minimum of 1 associate degree or certificate program in subject area for 2-year schools

Schools were then scored on factors such as:

  • Cost & Financial Aid
  • Number and variety of program offerings
  • Student-teacher ratios
  • Graduation rates (4-year schools only)
  • Placement and support services offered
  • Academic/Career counseling services
  • Employment services
  • Loan default rates

These factors were assembled for each school and rated using a peer-based-value (PBV) calculation. PBV compares the cost of a program to the cost of other programs with the same (or similar) qualitative score and cost. PBV denotes the overall value or "bang for your buck" of a college or degree program.

Earning a degree in a paramedic, EMT, or pre-hospital emergency medicine is a crucial step for any student looking to begin a career as an emergency medical technician. As a paramedic student, you will develop an understanding of human anatomy, physiology, and medical terminology, as well as being exposed to a variety of real-life training lessons. Each school offers something different, which is why we’ve gone through and sorted out which programs are the most effective, cost-friendly and meet other important criteria. Look below to find the best paramedic and EMT programs.

2-Year Colleges

Creighton University View School Profile Omaha, NE
University of South Alabama View School Profile Mobile, AL
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio View School Profile San Antonio, TX
University of Maryland-Baltimore County View School Profile Baltimore, MD
Utah Valley University View School Profile Orem, UT
Anna Maria College View School Profile Paxton, MA
University of New Haven View School Profile West Haven, CT
Lewis-Clark State College View School Profile Lewiston, ID
Eastern Kentucky University View School Profile Richmond, KY
Siena Heights University View School Profile Adrian, MI
University of Sioux Falls View School Profile Sioux Falls, SD
Springfield College View School Profile Springfield, MA
Western Carolina University View School Profile Cullowhee, NC
Jefferson College of Health Sciences View School Profile Roanoke, VA
University of New Mexico-Main Campus View School Profile Albuquerque, NM
Central Washington University View School Profile Ellensburg, WA
University of Washington View School Profile Seattle, WA
Loma Linda University View School Profile Loma Linda, CA

4-Year Colleges

Sinclair Community College View School Profile Dayton, OH
Barton Community College View School Profile Great Bend, KS
Kankakee Community College View School Profile Kankakee, IL
University of Arknsas Hope-Texarkana View School Profile Hope, AR
Kennebec Valley Community College View School Profile Fairfield, ME
Kansas City Kansas Community College View School Profile Kansas City, KS
Kellogg Community College View School Profile Battle Creek, MI
Garden City Community College View School Profile Garden City, KS
Tacoma Community College View School Profile Tacoma, WA
Sauk Valley Community College View School Profile Dixon, IL
Northland Pioneer College View School Profile Holbrook, AZ
Enterprise State Community College View School Profile Enterprise, AL
Lewis and Clark Community College View School Profile Godfrey, IL
Monroe Community College View School Profile Rochester, NY
Kishwaukee College View School Profile Malta, IL
Wallace Community College View School Profile Dothan, AL
Redlands Community College View School Profile El Reno, OK
Century College View School Profile White Bear Lake, MN
Wallace State Community College View School Profile Hanceville, AL
Rochester Community and Technical College View School Profile Rochester, MN
Trinidad State Junior College View School Profile Trinidad, CO
Temple College View School Profile Temple, TX
Odessa College View School Profile Odessa, TX
Arkansas State University-Beebe View School Profile Beebe, AR
North Arkansas College View School Profile Harrison, AR
Bevill State Community College View School Profile Jasper, AL
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College View School Profile Cincinnati, OH
Harper College View School Profile Palatine, IL
H Councill Trenholm State Community College View School Profile Montgomery, AL
Galveston College View School Profile Galveston, TX
Finger Lakes Community College View School Profile Canandaigua, NY
Erie Community College View School Profile Buffalo, NY
Southern Union State Community College View School Profile Wadley, AL
College of Lake County View School Profile Grayslake, IL
Coffeyville Community College View School Profile Coffeyville, KS
Gadsden State Community College View School Profile Gadsden, AL
Jefferson College View School Profile Hillsboro, MO
Belmont College View School Profile St. Clairsville, OH
Hill College View School Profile Hillsboro, TX
Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell Campus View School Profile Roswell, NM
Illinois Central College View School Profile East Peoria, IL
North Florida College View School Profile Madison, FL
Central Community College View School Profile Grand Island, NE
Crowder College View School Profile Neosho, MO
Howard College View School Profile Big Spring, TX
College of Southern Idaho View School Profile Twin Falls, ID
Arizona Western College View School Profile Yuma, AZ
Lakeshore Technical College View School Profile Cleveland, WI
Lurleen B Wallace Community College View School Profile Andalusia, AL
Northeast Alabama Community College View School Profile Rainsville, AL

Paramedic/EMT Programs & Training

Paramedics and EMTs share many primary job duties, so the training for each career is similar. The main factor differentiating EMTs and paramedics is the amount of preparation, with paramedics receiving additional education. Programs vary in length depending on the credentials sought, but most programs are founded on basic EMT training courses. Lessons in anatomy and physiology, emergency first-response procedures, and ambulatory care are at the core of many public health and safety careers. From there, prospective paramedics and advanced EMTs take additional classes to build on their basic EMT training and prepare for more advanced first-responder duties.

Certificate and degree programs for EMTs and paramedics are available at career and technical schools as well as community colleges. Prospective students can learn more about each pathway to determine which type of EMT and paramedic training best suits them.

Career & Technical School/Community College

Time to Complete:3 months - 2 years
Credential Earned:Certificate | Diploma | Associate of Applied Science (AAS)
Description:Both community colleges and career and technical schools offer paramedic and EMT training designed to prepare students to offer life support procedures to patients in emergency situations, and to qualify them for the certification they need to enter the field. Career and technical schools tend to focus primarily on hands-on skills and professional certification requirements, whereas community colleges will build on those fundamental skills and offer additional education as students pursue an associate degree. In either case, students need a high school diploma or equivalent, and CPR certification before being admitted.
Curriculum:Both community colleges and technical schools may offer a combination of lecture courses in topics like medical terminology and anatomy, as well as practical courses that help students understand real-life emergency procedures, like trauma management. EMT students often have to complete an internship or practicum as part of their coursework. Students seeking additional education to become advanced EMTs or paramedics may have to participate in multiple internships throughout their studies to expand on their skills. Students in a degree program at a community college can also expect to take a number of general education classes to fulfill graduation requirements.

Looking at individual courses and requirements for EMT and paramedic programs can help students figure out which route is more tailored to their interests and professional goals, but in general, they can expect to take classes that cover the following areas:



An overview of the roles and responsibilities of an EMT. Students learn about the field of emergency medical services, including topics such as major incident response, blood-borne pathogens, hazardous materials and stress management.


The study and application of medical terms and vocabulary, including an examination of root words, suffixes, prefixes, spelling, pronunciation and structure.


An introduction to basic anatomical and physiological terms. Students will learn about various body systems, including circulatory, respiratory, skeletal, muscular and nervous systems.


An examination of procedures used in emergency response. The class can be repeated to improve proficiency.

Students who choose to build on their EMT educations and pursue advanced emergency responder training may find themselves taking courses like these:



An examination of drugs, their applications and classifications. Students will learn about the uses of drugs and how to administer them in emergency medical settings, as well as their adverse effects.


The study and practice of special techniques used in the emergency care of different patient groups, like geriatric or pediatric populations.


A combination of lectures and lab time focused on treating patients with cardiovascular emergencies. ECG (also called EKG) monitoring, heart failure, acute coronary syndrome, and drug therapies will be addressed.


A supervised practice of life support techniques. Students begin by observing trained paramedics, and proceed to working as a team member in order to develop skills and knowledge.

Timeline to a Career as a Paramedic/EMT

While there is no single path toward becoming an EMT or paramedic, there are some steps that most professionals need to take in order to have a successful career with room for advancement.

  • Get a high school diploma or its equivalent
    All paramedic and EMT training programs require students to be high school graduates.
  • Become CPR certified
    EMT and paramedic programs also require students to be certified in CPR. Often, students can find CPR programs at the same institution they plan to attend for EMT training.
  • Research and apply for schools
    During their research, students should make sure they meet all program requirements. EMT and paramedic programs often require specific immunizations, criminal background checks, or uniform purchases. Students should also be sure their program of choice is accredited.
  • Complete EMT training and become certified
    After completing their EMT training courses, students can sit for the certification exam given by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT). NREMT has certification exams that correspond to different levels of proficiency, including emergency medical responders, EMTs, advanced EMTs and paramedics. Before starting their careers, students also need to become licensed in their state. Many states use NREMT certification for licensure, but students should double-check the licensure requirements where they live.
  • Advance your education
    After earning basic EMT status, build your skills by becoming an advanced EMT or paramedic, or pursue a higher-level academic degree. More education opens up students to greater variety in their work, more career options, and higher wages.
  • Stay current on training requirements
    Refresher courses in CPR and other EMT duties are required to maintain licensure. EMTs and paramedics must meet continuing education requirements every two years in order to remain certified.

Paramedic/EMT Careers At-a-Glance

EMTs and paramedics are on the front lines in extreme situations, meaning they must remain calm, and make considered—but quick—decisions under pressure to ensure patients get timely, proper treatment. EMTs and paramedics typically work together in teams, with a paramedic having the additional experience and training to act as the team leader, make higher-level decisions, and perform more advanced procedures. Although most EMTs and paramedics work on ambulance crews, it’s not the only path to employment. EMTs and paramedics may also work at hospitals, or at sites where established medical care is not easily available, such as cruise ships or remote job sites.

Paramedic & EMT: Career Basics

Many paramedics begin their careers as EMTs, getting the basic training that will prepare them to pursue a variety of medical and emergency response careers. EMTs provide immediate care at emergency scenes, like car accidents or house fires, and may continue treating patients during transport to a hospital. EMTs assess patients’ conditions, perform CPR, and treat wounds. While EMTs are trained in oxygen administration, they generally are not allowed to administer drugs or provide treatment that breaks the skin, with the exception of auto-injecting allergy medications.

Paramedic & EMT: In Depth

Paramedics and advanced EMTs can perform all of the same tasks as entry-level EMTs, but additional training broadens their scope of practice, allowing them to provide more advanced first-response care to patients. Advanced EMTs may learn how to administer fluids and some medications, for instance. Paramedics take these skills even further and are able to administer intravenous and oral medications, monitor and regulate cardiovascular conditions, and perform resuscitation and support techniques on patients experiencing severe medical emergencies, like heart attacks. In order to accurately carry out these duties, paramedics need in-depth knowledge of anatomy, physiology, cardiology and medications.

Paramedic/EMT Career & Salary Outlook

EMTs and paramedics are in high demand. Employment for these occupations is expected to grow by 24 percent between 2014 and 2024 – more than three times faster than the national average for all careers. One reason is that medical facilities that specialize in the treatment of specific conditions are becoming more popular, so more EMTs and paramedics are needed to transport patients to different locations. In addition, the country’s aging population needs additional health services, further increasing the need for well-trained emergency medical professionals. In 2014, nearly half of all EMTs and paramedics worked in ambulance services, but local governments and hospitals were also among the field’s top employers.


IndustryTotal Employment (May 2015)Mean Hourly Wage (May 2015)Annual Mean Wage (May 2015)
Ambulatory Health Care Services*114,600$15.65$32,550
Local Government66,430$18.75$39,000
General Medical and Surgical Hospitals40,620$17.65$36,700
Other Support Services2,270$17.81$37,050
Outpatient Care Centers1,770$18.26$37,970

*Excludes health practitioner offices, home health care services, outpatient care centers and medical and diagnostic laboratories.


  • Delaware1,460
  • West Virginia2,360
  • Maine1,640
  • South Carolina5, 130
  • Kentucky4,560


  • Texas18270
  • California16720
  • New York14250
  • Pennsylvania12320
  • Illinois12060


  • District of Columbia$59,010
  • Washington$58,370
  • Alaska$54,000
  • Connecticut$46,220
  • Nevada$44,320


Certifications & Salary Boosters

Beyond state licensure and certification from the NREMT, paramedics and EMTs can become certified in various specialties that can increase their salaries and lead to more job opportunities. Here are a few optional certifications that paramedics and EMTs can earn through the Board for Critical Care Transport Certification (BCCTPC).

  • CERTIFIED CRITICAL CARE PARAMEDICDesigned for experienced paramedics. Those who apply must take an exam to prove their knowledge in paramedicine, as well as pre-hospital, inter-hospital and hospital patient care.
  • CERTIFIED TACTICAL PARAMEDICA certification for tactical paramedics, who are specially trained to provide emergency medical services for law enforcing agencies, like SWAT, in hostile or high-stakes environments.
  • CERTIFIED COMMUNITY PARAMEDICCommunity paramedics adapt their services to better provide emergency treatment to medically underserved communities.
  • CERTIFIED FLIGHT PARAMEDICExperienced paramedics who are part of flight or critical care transport teams can apply for this certification. Applicants must pass an exam that demonstrates advanced knowledge of flight medic practices.
  • Another certification option is as a WILDERNESS EMERGENCY MEDICAL TECHNICIAN (WEMT). EMTs who want to work in wilderness environments can take an intensive Wilderness EMT course offered by the Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI). Those who complete the course successfully will earn a WEMT certification from the WMI and will be prepared to take the NREMT certification exam.

Additional Resources

This guide is a good starting point for those interested in becoming EMTs or paramedics, but prospective students can also check out these resources for more information on certification, education and careers in emergency medical services.

International Association of EMTs and Paramedics.

This association is a worker’s union representing those in emergency services.

International Association of Flight and Critical Care Paramedics.

The association’s site includes information about what flight and critical care paramedicine entails, along with education and career opportunities, certifications, and state critical care policies.

Journal of Emergency Medical Services.

JEMS provides articles, news releases and other informational resources to emergency medical service providers.

National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians.

NAEMT represents all types of EMS practitioners in all settings. Their website provides information about EMS careers and training, education resources and scholarships, health and safety, and industry news.

National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians.

The organization provides information on EMT and paramedic careers, certification requirements and access to a job board.

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See All Posts is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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