The median U.S. paramedic salary is $36,650 or $17.62 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But if someone wants to know the average paramedic salary in a particular city, the first thing you might ask in return is, “How much will I pay when I buy a hot dog at the ball park?”
What does a hot dog have to do with a paramedic’s paycheck? Think about it. With any profession, factors such as education, location, and experience also weigh heavily in salary ranges.
If you’re a Cincinnati Reds fan, that hot dog might cost you a few dollars at Great American Ball Park. But if you’re at Citi Park, you might be spending close to $10 to eat while you watch the New York Mets play.
The same is true for paramedic salaries, where a Ohio paramedic earns, on average, $34,680, while the average New York paramedic pulls in $46,920. You can find out what your salary would be depending on where you live by checking Salary.com.
Salaries vary by other factors as well. As a paramedic, the amount of money you earn is subject to factors such as experience, level of education, and location just to mention a few. The states with the highest concentration of jobs and location quotients in EMT’s and paramedics are West Virginia (employment: 2,150), Vermont (870), Missouri (8,010), Wyoming (690) and Maine (1,450). According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, these five states paid their paramedic service providers hourly wages that ranged from $14.67 to $18.35.
The top five paying states for EMT’s and Paramedics in the United States are as follows:
- Hawaii: $58,580 (Annual Mean Wage)
- Washington: $56,910 (Annual Mean Wage)
- Maryland: $53,440 (Annual Mean Wage)
- Alaska: $50,030 (Annual Mean Wage)
- California: $48,280 (Annual Mean Wage)
Salary of a Paramedic: Does Experience Matter?
Regardless of where you live and work, your salary will depend on your experience. An EMT who’s just starting in his or her field will earn around $19,000.
That decision that you made at age 18 to take a six-month training course to become an EMT might lead you to the next decision, which is to spend an additional 18 months or two years, or perhaps even four years, to enroll in a training program to become a paramedic.
The results of that decision will show up in your paycheck as you rise from EMT pay to paramedic salary.
No one is saying that becoming a paramedic is a way to get rich. The paramedic field is filled with people at the entry level: 36% of all paramedics have less than 2 years of experience, and entry-level salaries are not the high point of the profession’s earning potential.
Another 23% have worked from two-five years, with 11% having 10-15 years of experience.
The more years of experience that a paramedic has under his or her belt, the higher the income. After ten years on the job, the paramedic could be earning $50,000-$70,000 annually in a managerial position. You can check Payscale.com to see for yourself what a difference your experience makes in determining your pay rate.
Does Overtime Change the Salary of a Paramedic?
The nature of a paramedic’s job has a direct effect on wages. It’s not a job where you can clock out every day at 5:00 pm. That means that overtime is a fact of life in both a paramedic’s daily schedule and monthly budget. Adjusting to the schedule, and the fact that emergencies don’t quit, is something that a paramedic and his or her family learn to become used to, although no one would claim that it’s easy.
Some paramedics are scheduled for 12-hour shifts, working three days one week and four days the following week. Personal needs, even lunch and bathroom breaks, take a back seat to the emergency calls. Overtime is a physical—but also an economic—fact of life for the paramedic because emergencies don’t call it a day at 5:00 pm.
What Benefits Do Paramedics Get?
Hourly pay can add up. Some paramedics get a stipend for the number of critical care transports they’ve made during a particular period. Some who have unused vacation or sick time can sell the hours back to their employer if they want to. Many get an annual Christmas bonus.
Some paramedics work for employers where a designated number of hours of paid sick leave are accrued for every pay period. If a paramedic accrues more than the minimum amount of sick time allowed, he or she may have the option of taking the excess hours as paid time off, or selling it back to the employer in exchange for cash. One week’s paid vacation for the entry-level paramedic often increases with years on the job, usually up to three weeks of paid time off.
Benefits for paramedics often vary by the type of paramedic you are. If you work for a hospital-owned ambulance service, your benefits may be superior to those received by other paramedics, and may include medical, dental, and vision, as well as a 401K. If you’re hired as part of the fire department or the police force, you may expect additional benefits such as pensions and retirement savings.
As was mentioned above, there are different types of paramedics and each of them comes with unique duties only they can assume and different salaries as well.
Average Pay Rate for Paramedic Specialties
1) Critical Care Paramedics: $39,000
Critical Care Paramedics, also known as Critical Care Transporters, are highly skilled paramedics who typically work with other medical professionals. Due to their extra training and skills, they are capable of taking care of more severe emergencies than the average paramedic.
2) EMS Paramedics Average Salary: $42,000
Emergency Medical Service paramedics are employed by EMS agencies.
3) Tactical Team Paramedics Average Salary: $51,000
Tactical Team Paramedics partner with law enforcement teams such as Strategic Weapons and Tactics units to provide care for those have been injured during a SWAT operation.
4) Firefighter Paramedic Average Salary: $55,000
Firefighter Paramedics are members of the firefighting department who render emergency care to people who have received injury in a fire. Some firefighting departments require their firefighters to be paramedics.
5) Flight Paramedics Average Salary: $68,000
Flight Paramedics travel by air rescue plane or helicopter with a crew, flying to places that must be reached quickly due to the patient’s condition, and sometimes traveling to locations that are not readily accessible.
6) Hospital Paramedic Average Salary: $68,000
Hospital Paramedics are employees of hospitals, working with the hospital ambulance but also with the staff in both the wards and the intensive care unit. As is the case with the Critical Care Paramedic, the Hospital Paramedic receives a higher pay rate because their training means that they are capable of performing more challenging medical tasks than a regular paramedic.
Starting out as a paramedic may just be the beginning of a satisfying career in health care. In addition to the paramedic specialties listed above, it’s important to know that many doctors and nurses started out as paramedics.
The knowledge and skills acquired as paramedics can be an invaluable source of medical and educational training for someone who wants to explore the options available in the health care field. Paramedic work by its very nature provides practical, hands-on experience in the treatment of a wide variety of injuries and illnesses.
Is the job of a paramedic perfect? No, it certainly has its drawbacks. The work can be dangerous, the hours long and exhausting, and the stress is undeniable. But there are unique advantages to being a paramedic as well.
Paramedics acknowledge that, while their daily routine is far different from the action-packed drama shown on television, the day itself is never a carbon copy of the preceding 24 hours. They relish the unpredictability of their job, where their office is a moving vehicle and not a drab, four-walled cubicle.
Paramedics report tremendous job satisfaction in dealing with patients, too. Paramedics appreciate the versatility of their profession, and the range of knowledge that is theirs to command, from delivering babies to drawing blood.
Paramedics serve all walks of life, from derelicts to CEOs, and they interact with every demographic. And, perhaps most satisfying of all, they know that their job counts. They may not be saving lives every single day, but their presence is a vital link in the pathway that takes a patient from illness to treatment and often back to health, and there’s no way to put a price on that.
So is knowing the average paramedic salary important before embarking on this career path? Sure, because at the end of the day, becoming a paramedic is something one chooses, in part, to feed themselves and their family.
But equally if not more important is the human element of the job. Knowing that, as a working paramedic, you are making a difference in the world, touching and saving lives, and doing work that fills your heart with the deep gratitude and satisfaction.
Remember, whether it’s about training requirements or paramedic salary information, you can always return to Paramedic Training Spot for additional information.