Saving lives isn’t just the domain of hospital personnel. Highly trained ambulance crews composed of emergency medical technicians and paramedics respond to the scenes of accidents and disasters to give trauma victims critical treatment. Working in tandem with emergency-room doctors via radio, EMTs and paramedics are everyday lifesavers.

As with other healthcare fields, an aging population will create strong demand for more trained personnel. According to the California Employment Development Department, the number of emergency medical technicians and paramedics is projected to grow by almost 26 percent in the current decade ending 2010.

If you want to pursue the field, you must obtain certification (for EMTs) or licensure (for paramedics). Check with the emergency services program charged with licensing in your county. They can also point you toward authorized training programs. Salaries vary widely, averaging only $19,000 annually for an entry-level EMT-1, and $50,000 annually for a fire-department paramedic.

One of the reasons opportunity is strong in these fields is, unfortunately, the high rate of turnover attributed to stress. “EMTs have high rates of turnover for a variety of reasons: burnout, low compensation, and a lack of professional recognition,” according to a recent report by The Center of the Health Professions at UC San Francisco. Facing people “in life or death situations” takes its toll, the report points out.

For those looking for a somewhat less stressful alternative, the center reports that EMTs have “been moving into new roles in critical care units of hospitals.” Their extensive training often makes them better able to deal with acute care situations.

“Because EMTs and paramedics are already trained medical personnel, hospitals are using them to perform simpler lifesaving tasks under the direction of nurses in the emergency room, freeing up RNs to do more complicated procedures,” the report concludes.

Medical career opportunities are by no means limited to these three fields. You can explore a sizable list of career options online at by clicking on the Occupational Outlook Handbook listed under occupations. Follow the instructions on searching for careers.

Share this post: | | Google+ | |