Emergency medical technician-basic (EMT-B) is the entry-level position for the EMT profession. Depending on which part of the country you’re in, successive EMT jobs include EMT-E (enhanced), EMT-I (intermediate), and EMT-P (paramedic). Although each state establishes its own certification and licensing standards, all require EMT-Bs to meet the minimum requirements set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA). Although many people use the terms “EMT” and “paramedic” interchangeably, paramedics represent the high end of the emergency responder profession and, thus, make considerably more money than EMT-Bs.
EMT-B training generally consists of non-invasive procedures like controlling bleeding, dressing wounds, administering breathing aids such as a bag-valve mask, airway passage clearing, oxygen administration and splinting. Classroom coursework is combined with clinical training. A written NHTSA test must be completed. One hundred to 120 hours of training is typical to qualify as an EMT-B. The length of certification and licensing varies from state to state, ranging from two to four years. Continuing education is required by most states in order to renew licenses.
National Average Wage
According to Pay Scale, the average wage for an EMT-B ranges from $9.75 to $12.67 an hour, or about $20,000 to $26,500 per year. This compares to a national median salary of about $38,500 for paramedics, according to Salary.com.
Wages by Experience
EMT-Bs with more than 20 years on the job make about $17.50 an hour, or $36,400 per year. Those with 10 to 19 years experience average nearly $15 an hour, or about $31,000 annually. EMT-Bs with five to nine years earn $13.80 an ($28,700 per year). An EMT-B with one to four years experience makes about $12.15 per hour, or approximately $25,300 a year. A rookie EMT-B earns $11.62 or less per hour.
Some of the top-paying states for EMT-Bs are New Jersey ($15.49 an hour), Texas ($13.60 per hour) and Pennsylvania (almost $13). These figures seem to conflict with U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, but the Labor Bureau includes all EMT levels, including paramedics, in its calculations. Labor Bureau statistics show Hawaii paying a median salary of more than $47,000, followed by Alaska ($46,700) and Oregon ($43,200). City-wise, Pay Scale places Denver first at $16 an hour ($33,300 annually) and San Antonio second at $15 per hour ($31,200 a year).
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the job growth for the entire EMT field will grow by about 9 percent through 2018, mainly due to an aging population that will necessitate larger volumes of home emergency calls. In addition, EMT-Bs may benefit from a dwindling number of unpaid volunteer emergency medical techs. EMT-Bs also are increasingly needed to replace advancing EMTs and those who leave the profession. The EMT field, due to its generally low pay range, often is used as a stepping stone to other, higher-paying jobs within the health care field.