Online EMS Degree vs. EMT Certification
Many employment opportunities are available in the emergency medical services (EMS) field. Some of the jobs require certifications and others require college degrees.
EMT Certification Programs
The big advantage of certificate programs is that they can be relatively short in terms of time spent in obtaining the certificate. This is attractive to students who want to earn a basic certificate quickly and obtain an entry level job. Certificate programs are also attractive to emergency medical technicians (EMTs) who want to earn a higher level of certification.
There are online EMT certification programs available. These programs teach the academic coursework online. The online certification programs offer different levels of EMT certification:
EMT certification requires 110 hours of classroom training. This EMT training emphasizes emergency skills such as:
- Patient assessment
- Clearing respiratory tracks
- Treating trauma
- Treating heart attacks
- And treating strokes
Part of the EMT training for this level also covers the use of the basic emergency equipment, such as backboards, splints, stretchers and oxygen systems.
EMT certification requires 200-400 hours of classroom training. The coursework includes learning how to inject intravenous fluids, how to treat with some basic medications, how to use advanced airway devises, and how to interpret an EKG.
This EMT certification requires over 1,000 hours of classroom instruction. Students in paramedic training learn advanced EMS procedures such as:
- 12-lead EKG interpretation
- Needle decompression to treat collapsed lungs
- Nasal intubation
- Cardiac pacing
This training also includes learning how to administer medications to treat cardiac arrest, diabetic reactions, allergic reactions and respiratory complications
Along with these certifications, clinical experience in hospitals and ambulances are also required. To maintain their certifications, EMTs and paramedics are required to take continuing education courses.
Online continuing education courses are exceptionally flexible for working EMTs because online courses allow EMTs to keep working, while still enhancing their knowledge of EMS safety procedures and advanced medical techniques.
Online EMS Degree Programs
Online associate degrees in paramedics are available. These online EMS degree programs typically take two years. Associate's degrees require general education classes in subjects such as math, English composition, communications and social sciences. These courses enhance critical thinking skills. The major classes include:
- Emergency medicine
The skills acquired are advanced physical assessment in the field, medical communications and documentation and advanced skills in physical examinations. Also skills in advanced techniques of airway management, EKG evaluation, I.V. therapy, and medication applications are acquired. (Clinical experience is also required to meet the national EMT certification requirements.) Many physician assistant programs give preference to associate's degree paramedics.
Online EMS degrees are also available. The most common degree is a bachelor's degree in EMS management. An online EMS degree is the perfect way for EMTs and paramedics to earn promotions in their career field. An online EMS degree in EMS management adds leadership skills, critical decision making skills, as well as administrative and financial skills.
Another possible online EMS degree is to earn a bachelor's degree in Health Sciences. This degree leads to job opportunities in public health, community health agencies, insurance companies or hospitals.
One of the distinguishing considerations of the differences in certifications versus degrees is the salary levels. The salary levels are:
Paramedics with Associate's Degree: $40,000-$65,000
EMS Bachelor's Degree: $40,000-$80,000
Salaries are dependent on geographic locations and experience levels.