Working from helicopters or other aircraft, air ambulance paramedics provide emergency medical care to the critically ill and injured. These paramedics work at emergency scenes and in the air, often with a partner who is a specially trained nurse or paramedic. Air ambulance paramedics participate in about 500,000 medical flights each year, according to the Association of Air Medical Services.
According to the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians, the national average salary for a paramedic is $43,535, as of 2005. In 2009, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 75 percent of paramedics earned an annual salary of $39,250. Salary for air ambulance paramedics can vary depending on where they work, their experience and attainment of specialized training.
Air ambulance paramedics typically begin their careers by training as EMTs. This training may be obtained at many community colleges. It consists of 120 hours of training covering basic life-support topics such as CPR, controlling bleeding and splinting fractures. These paramedics also receive training in flight safety and the physiology of transport in an air medical environment.
People who enjoy working in a fast-paced medical environment and caring for the sick and injured will likely enjoy being an air ambulance paramedic. Because of the nature of their jobs, air ambulance paramedics may work irregular or long hours, but they often enjoy long periods of time off to balance their schedules.
Job opportunities for paramedics are expected to grow between 7 percent and 13 percent over the next several years, as of 2011, according to the BLS. Much of this growth is expected to result from the aging of the baby boom generation.