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EMS 101
by EMS1 Staff

EMT Salary: How to make more money

Strategies EMS providers utilize to increase their income

By EMS1 Contributors

Updated on January 21, 2015

An EMT salary isn't going to buy you a mansion and a Mercedes.

However, you're a trained professional in a high stress job who handles critical life and death issues on a daily — if not hourly — basis. And you'd like to be compensated at the highest level possible.

If you want to make more money as an EMT, you first need to know what the national averages are so you can estimate how your pay rate compares.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary in 2012 was $31,020 per year, and $14.91 an hour. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $20,180, and the top 10 percent earned more than $53,550.

Work overtime

EMTs can usually earn additional pay through working overtime and receiving yearly performance bonuses. About one in three EMTs worked more than 40 hours per week.

Choose your state wisely

EMT salary ranges depend largely on the state in which you're working.

Metropolitan areas generally have the highest rate of pay, but they can also have the most competition for jobs and the highest cost of living, which are important factors that must be taken into consideration.

The states that pay the highest EMT salaries are Alaska and Hawaii. The highest paying cities are Seattle and San Francisco.

Search jobs by state

Continue your education

Another factor in EMT salary levels is your level of training and professional designation. Training requirements and designations vary from state to state, but generally they are EMT-B (basic), EMT-I (intermediate), and paramedic, with the latter being the highest level of EMS training.

Since an EMT-B can earn from $33,000 to $51,000 a year and a paramedic can earn anywhere from $40,000 to $70,000 a year, increasing your training and designation is one way to earn more money.

The transition from an EMT-B and a paramedic, usually requires an additional one to two years of training, depending on your state's licensing requirements.

Research the type of agency you want to work for

Another consideration in gauging EMT salary rates is the agency you work for.

Private ambulance companies generally have the lowest rates of pay and government agencies, such as fire departments and state or city-run ambulances services, have the highest.

Also, some state police departments and the National Park Service staff EMTs who respond to emergency medical situations.

Hospitals also employ EMS workers to transport patients when they require critical care, such as IV pump infusions and ventilator management, while moving from one medical facility to the next. They also sometimes use EMTs in place of nurses.

EMT salary rates at hospitals are usually in the mid to upper ranges of pay.

Although an EMT salary isn't going to make you rich, as an emergency health care professional you do have the satisfaction of knowing that the service you're providing is vital to the health and safety of your community.

About the author

EMS 101 articles are intended to educate a non-emergency medical services audience about the emergency medical services profession. These articles are written by EMS1 staff members and EMS1 contributors, and cover a wide range of topics from EMS protocols all paramedics & EMTs should follow to an overview of the necessary requirements for becoming a paramedic.
The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Joseph Sparkman Joseph Sparkman Friday, October 03, 2014 4:14:04 AM Hey there.... I've been a Paid Call Firefighter in CA for about a year and a half.. I have my EMR/first responder, AED/CPR, as well as Confined Spaces Rescue Awareness, Haz Mat Operations, and a bunch of other fire certificates... I'm also about 2 months from finishing an EMT class. But I was just curious if there's any hospital positions I can get with my current certifications, and also what I can do once I get my EMT... Any input is greatly appreciated.. Thanks a bunch!! Joseph

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