Sweet, you’re a paramedic—or you’re training to become one—and you’ve landed here, upon the virtual pages of this guide, because you want to know how to take that all-important next step: applying for paramedic jobs.

Where should you start looking? How should you approach the job market? How can you best stand out as a candidate and really nail those paramedic job interviews? What’s the average paramedic salary look like, and what about projected job growth?

You have questions, I get it, and we’re here to answer them all in this paramedic study guide!

But first … who are “we”?

Hi! We’re Brainscape

NREMT Brainscape's Paramedic Flashcards Dashboard (Web)
Brainscape's web dashboard for our certified Paramedic flashcards, which cover everything you need to know in each of the 7 major NREMT Paramedic subject areas.

We’re the brains, minds, and hearts behind the world’s smartest study app. We’ve brought together some of the most experienced people in the emergency medical services to compile a comprehensive collection of paramedic flashcards for the NREMT-P, as well as this guide on how to find the best paramedic jobs.

Our lead author (and consultant) is Jesse Owens (NRP, FP-C) who has, since the tender age of 18 operated in many capacities as a 911 Paramedic, Critical Care Army Flight Paramedic, Civilian Flight Paramedic, and SWAT medic. And now he’s here to give you some crucial tips on the paramedic job market.

So, with introductions out the way, let’s get started!

[Still in training? Read our seminal paramedic study guide for all the best tips on how to ace your training and the NREMT Paramedic exam!]

Where can paramedics find jobs?

Where can paramedics find jobs

The short answer is everywhere.

Wherever there’s a need for a skilled emergency healthcare professional, having a paramedic on staff and close at hand is more than just an asset: it could be life-saving. And so, the first employers that come to mind are ambulance services, hospitals, and emergency rooms, where paramedics serve the civilian population around the clock, responding to emergency calls and transporting patients to emergency rooms.

In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 48% of paramedics (and EMTs) work here. However, there are also paramedic jobs in a vast spectrum of other environments, which you should most definitely consider when deciding upon your career path:

  • Dangerous workplaces like oil rigs, mines, power plants, etc.
  • Professional sporting events and competitions
  • Emergency search and rescue craft (ocean, air, wilderness)
  • Army, navy, and S.W.A.T teams
  • Fire department (firefighter paramedic)
  • Large resorts, hotels, and cruise ships, (i.e. where many people are gathered but hospitals may not be close at hand.)
  • Music festivals, concerts, and amusement parks
  • Airplanes and helicopters (flight paramedics transports patients from more remote locations over long distances to an emergency room)

Important note: Some of these paramedic jobs require advanced training and certification so make sure you look into those requirements beforehand. The take-home message, however, is that there are many exciting opportunities outside of the ambulance service.

[Ready to start your training? Check out: How to become a paramedic.]

How to stand out as a paramedic job-seeker

Paramedic job candidate

Now that your eyes have been opened to the broader range of paramedic jobs, let’s explore how you can place yourself in the best possible position as a candidate for them …

1. Network, network, network

This is true of any industry really, but maintaining a network of positive relationships with other EMS and healthcare professionals is a fantastic asset to have when you’re looking for paramedic jobs. If you’re a new recruit, it may still take you some time to build this network but even just through your training, tutors, and volunteer work, you should have met many people. And you just never know who might one day introduce you to your next job opportunity!

2. Learn from every patient

Every patient is a learning opportunity; and it’s the scaffolding of these learning experiences that makes you a better, more efficient paramedic. So, after delivering a patient to the ER, if possible, speak to the ER doctor / nurses to find out what was wrong with them afterwards. Was your assessment correct? Did you miss something? What could you do better in future?

Pro Tip: It’s also a solid idea to learn every patient’s name and use it. It’s a small gesture that improves patient rapport and trust, but it can also become a useful diagnostic tool to assess breathing and brain function.

3. Be the kind of partner you would want to work with

If you’re efficient, helpful, patient, and attentive, you’ll earn a reputation as a valuable team member and a good person to work with. This positive relationship will help tremendously when you need, for example, references or recommendations for paramedic jobs.

Pro Tip: One surefire way to endear yourself to colleagues (and garner a positive reputation in the field) is to leave the rig better than you found it. Clean or organize something, do an inventory of the jump kit, or set up the pram for the next shift. You’ll be appreciated for taking care of your work environment.

5. Don’t allow your skills to lapse

It’s true that, over time, the skills and/or knowledge a paramedic doesn’t use very often will become rusty and fade from memory. And yet, a day will come when you need to administer it with practiced precision.

As such, it’s crucial that you keep your lesser-used skills and knowledge sharp. If you can’t practice with the gear you have at hand on the job, perhaps reach out to your paramedic training center to see if they’ll let you come in for a few hours to review your skills.

Then, to keep your knowledge fresh, use Brainscape’s mobile NREMT-P flashcards to drill yourself on the key facts you need to know. And when you come across a new learning point on the job, you can create a flashcard for it so that you don’t ever forget it!

Brainscape's digital, adaptive flashcards for the NREMT Paramedic exam.
Brainscape’s web and mobile app breaks knowledge down into logical bite-sized question-and-answer pairs, which compel users to engage active recall and metacognition to learn, while the spaced repetition of flashcards ensures more efficient learning.

6. Constantly expand your knowledge and practical skills

The field of emergency medicine, technology, and healthcare is constantly evolving and so it’s an integral part of your career to remain abreast of these changes. Read research studies and published articles; work towards additional certifications; and keep up with “best practices” and technological advancements.

Current skills and certification are definitely criteria employers look for, so make sure you highlight that in your paramedic job applications.

7. Take care of your temple

Being constantly on the road and working odd shifts can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle—fast food, caffeinated beverages, too little sleep, etc. But if you’re to care effectively for your patients, you too need to be in good health. In fact, things like food, hydration, exercise, and sleep are crucial for brain health; and brain health is crucial for making good decisions!

Another thing: if you feel the strain of the job on your mental health, seek counselling. Paramedics can see some pretty upsetting things on the job and it’s better to cope with that stress with therapy, meditation, or some other healthy form of stress management than it is with medication (unless prescribed) or substance abuse.

Tips for nailing your paramedic job interview

Paramedic job interview

You’re a solid candidate, you’ve put in your applications for a few paramedic jobs, and now you’ve been called in for an interview. Now what? How can you make the best possible impression? Here’s your checklist!

Research the employer and role as best you can: They’ll be impressed if you demonstrate knowledge about them, which you can do by asking specific questions about their history, culture, etc. or by appealing to their interests or values.

Be clean and well-presented: This might sound obvious but you’d be shocked how many candidates show up for interviews in sweat pants and a T-shirt (or maybe you won’t 😳)

Show up with questions: You’ll want to showcase your natural curiosity because paramedics need to be fast, critical thinkers. Also, paramedic job interviews go both ways! You should determine whether this job is a good fit for you, too.

Be friendly yet professional: You may feel nervous, which is perfectly normal, but try to convey confidence through a firm handshake, good eye contact, and a straight posture. Be friendly and smile, but maintain your professionalism.

Pro Tip: Employers typically look for positivity, strong communication skills, the ability to remain calm under pressure, compassion, empathy, and high energy.

Be up-front about any limitations you may have: It might be tempting to exaggerate your skills/experience in order to land your dream paramedic job but it’s better to work up to that job than it is to have your knowledge or skills overestimated by your team and employer. In a crisis situation, that could become disastrous.

Practice your answers to common paramedic job interview questions: You’ll find tons of practice interview questions out there in the virtual ether (Google is your friend) so look them up and practice answering them.

For example: What kind of environments have you worked in as a paramedic? How do you manage stressful situations? How do you respond to a drug overdose call? How do you handle moving a heavy patient from a dangerous situation? And so on.

What is the average annual paramedic salary?

average annual paramedic salary

Ah-ha! Let’s get down to brass tacks because discussions about paramedic salary often come up during job interviews—particularly if you’re called back for a second interview. So, what does a paramedic salary look like? What benchmark should you establish for your career?

Well, it really depends on:

  • Where in the world you work (country, state, and city),
  • In what specific environment you seek employment (civilian, military, etc.),
  • Who your employer is, and
  • Whether they’re private or run by the state/federal government.

According to the job search platform Glassdoor.com, the national average paramedic salary is $46,226 in the United States. (You can also filter by state and city to refine your search, which is a rather helpful feature). But, according to the same platform, a critical care paramedic averages $50,471, while a firefighter/paramedic brings home $60,201 worth of bacon.

These paramedic salary estimates are based on information anonymously submitted by 3,318 employees. Are they 100% accurate? Probably not, but they’re certainly better than the national average estimates provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which lumps EMTs and paramedics into the same category, even though paramedics have literally 1,000+ hours more training under their belt, and so are eligible for higher ranking/paying paramedic jobs.

Read: Paramedic vs EMT: What's the difference?

What states pay the best paramedic salary?

And the award for the states with the highest paramedic salary* goes to:

  1. Hawaii, with an average annual paramedic salary of US$58,580 (mean hourly wage of $28.16)
  2. Washington, with an average annual paramedic salary of US$56,910 (mean hourly wage of $27.36)
  3. Maryland, with an average annual paramedic salary of US$53,440 (mean hourly wage of $25.69)
  4. Alaska, with an average annual paramedic salary of US$50,030 (mean hourly wage of $24.05)
  5. California, with an average annual paramedic salary of US$48,280 (mean hourly wage of $23.21)

*According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yeah, I know I just said that the BLS lump EMTs and paramedics together but they also produced this rather comprehensive report: Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics for Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics, which is so packed full of interesting data, we couldn’t resist. Definitely check that out to give yourself a decent bird’s eye view of the paramedic job market.

Paramedic jobs growth and outlook

Paramedic jobs growth and outlook

Another statistic you might consider when searching for paramedic jobs (and this is also summed up in that BLS report) is how fast the paramedic job sector is growing year on year. This will give you an indication of that state’s job outlook over the coming years. The higher the growth, the more the demand for paramedics. Economics, baby.

Here are the states with the highest projected growth rate for EMT and paramedic jobs:

  1. Georgia, annual growth rate: 30.8%
  2. Utah, annual growth rate: 22.3%
  3. New York, annual growth rate: 20.1%
  4. Colorado, annual growth rate: 19.7%
  5. Maryland, annual growth rate: 14.8%
  6. Idaho, annual growth rate: 14.2%
  7. Louisiana, annual growth rate: 13.4%
  8. Nevada, annual growth rate: 11.8%
  9. Washington, annual growth rate: 11%
  10. Florida, annual growth rate: 10.9%

A final thought on applying for your first paramedic jobs

Working as a paramedic

We’ve covered the important bases here, from where you should look for paramedic jobs and how to stand out as a candidate to nailing your interviews and setting your salary expectations. Now, I have one final thought for you, particularly if you’re new …

The life of a paramedic—or anyone in EMS for that matter—is one of lifelong learning. You’ll be learning constantly on the job; you’ll be picking up new techniques, skills, and equipment as medicine and technology advances; you’ll be refreshing your knowledge every two years for those important recertification exams, and you’ll (possibly) be learning and training for new certifications to advance your career.

The sooner you become comfortable with learning and even develop strong daily habits to learn more efficiently, the better. And I sincerely hope you choose Brainscape—our paramedic study guides and certified NREMT-P flashcards—to help you accelerate and optimize that learning journey!

Brainscape's NREMT Paramedic study app
Brainscape’s NREMT Paramedic Flashcard collection features 2,100+ engaging flashcards, neatly organized into 48 decks, tackling topics from airway, respiration, and resucitation to EMS operations, and more. It's EVERYTHING you need to know to crush the NREMT Paramedic exam!