What Education is Needed to Become a Paramedic?

Considering a career in emergency medical services? You may be wondering what kind of education is needed to become a paramedic.

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High School

While it is possible to become a paramedic without any formal education beyond high school, most employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed an accredited paramedic program. Some states have started to require that all paramedics have at least an associate’s degree, and most four-year colleges now offer degree programs specifically in paramedicine.

If you’re interested in becoming a paramedic, you’ll need to complete high school or earn a GED. While in high school, paramedics recommend completing courses in anatomy, physiology, and biology.

Paramedic training programs

Most paramedics complete a postsecondary educational program that leads to an associate’s degree or certificate, although some start their careers with a high school diploma or equivalent. According to the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, almost all states require paramedics to be licensed or registered.

Typically, paramedic training programs include lecture courses and hands-on experience in a hospital or ambulance setting. Many programs include an internship or externship in which students work under the supervision of experienced paramedics. Programs typically last about 2 years and lead to an associate’s degree or certificate.


A college degree is not required to become a paramedic, but many colleges across the nation offer certification programs specifically for paramedics. Many people choose to become paramedics because they want to help people in their time of need and they are interested in the medical field. Some paramedics also choose to continue their education and become a nurse or a doctor.

Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree in paramedics usually takes about two years to complete, although some programs may be longer or shorter. These programs typically include a mix of classroom and clinical work, and they often lead to certification as a paramedic. Some schools also offer bachelor’s degree programs in paramedicine, which can take four years to complete. These programs may include more advanced coursework in subjects like anatomy and physiology, as well as additional clinical experience.

Bachelor’s Degree

Most paramedics hold at least an associate’s degree, although some have bachelor’s degrees in emergency medical services.


Although paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) must complete a postsecondary educational program, EMTs have less training than paramedics. Paramedics usually complete a certificate or an associate’s degree program, while EMTs typically complete a certificate program that lasts about three to six months.

National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians

The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) is a national nonprofit organization that certifies emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics in the United States. Certification by the NREMT is widely recognized as the gold standard for EMT and paramedic certification.

NREMT certification is not required in all states, but many states have adopted NREMT standards and require certification for licensing purposes. In order to become certified by the NREMT, candidates must pass both a cognitive (knowledge-based) exam and a practical (skills-based) exam.

The NREMT offers several different types of certification, including EMT-Basic, EMT-Intermediate, EMT-Paramedic, and AEMT (Advanced EMT). Candidates must meet certain requirements before they are eligible to take the exams for each level of certification.

For more information about NREMT certification, including eligibility requirements and exam information, please visit the NREMT website.

State requirements

State requirements for certification as a paramedic vary, but all states have adopted national standards set forth by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). At a minimum, aspiring paramedics must complete a postsecondary educational program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) or the Council on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoAEMSP).

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