Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Pros and Cons of Being an EMT

Have you considered becoming an EMT? A career in emergency medicine can be a real thrill. For those of you looking to help your community, it can be rewarding. With a nationwide nursing shortage, there are lots jobs out there for EMT’s. Maybe you’re not sure about making a career out of EMS. Here are so pros and cons to help you make your decision.

Pro: Job Security. Statistics show that jobs in healthcare stay relatively stable even in a bad economy. Healthcare is one of the only sectors that has grown during the current recession. Here’s the other bonus. There are lots of other jobs you can perform as an EMT. You won’t be limited to the ambulance. You can work in the emergency room. You can work in the hospital or doctors office taking vitals or blood samples. Many states will allow you to work as a patient care tech as well.

Con: You’ll never get rich. I work with a guy who used to be an engineer. He says he feels like he has taken a vow of poverty to do what he loves. EMT ranked #1 in a Forbes Magazine article titled “Ten Underpaid Critical Jobs.” I know EMTs who make as little as $8.00 an hour. The median salary for a rookie EMT is around $29,000.

Pro: Thrills. Working on an ambulance or the emergency room can be exciting. If you were the type of child, or are the type of adult who gets excited every time a police care or fire engine runs past you, this job might be for you. How would you like to drive an emergency vehicle? How would you like to be there when someone is in need of your help? You can witness some amazing things in this field. If you are the type of person who doesn’t turn their head from what most people consider gross, and if you can keep your cool when others want to run away. This might be for you.

Con: Burnout. Days and nights start to blur together when you’re working 12 or 24 hour shifts. Depending on where you live, and how well your department or company is funded, you might run a significant amount of calls during your shift. Getting a full night’s sleep is almost impossible. There have been several occasions where I have run 16 to 18 calls in a 24 hour shift. You will have to deal with frequent fliers who call 911 all the time. You need to know as well, that most of your calls will not be emergencies. 10% or less of your calls will be true emergencies. And don’t forget, if you work crazy hours, you might not get to see your family as much as you like.

Pro: Comradery. This is the first job I’ve ever had where I felt like I fit in. My coworkers are a little twisted just like me. That makes me feel special. There is a feeling of brotherhood that comes with knowing what you and your coworkers go through in a day. Depending on where you live you will probably feel the same sense of brotherhood with the police.

Con: Mental Health calls. I will tell you that many of my coworkers like mental health calls, but I’m not a fan. You might get spit on, threatened, hit or scratched. You will frequently get yelled at on these calls as well. The back of an ambulance is small. You really need to watch yourself, or your partner if you are driving, because you won’t have much time to react in such a small space. Some of my coworkers find this exciting, interesting and even funny. I have never been comfortable with these calls. I have had two patients really try to hurt me.

I could go on and on with the pros and cons of being an EMT, but I think I’ve given you enough to think about for the time being. I have done my best to provide you with honest information so you can make your own decision. Personally speaking, This is a job I love. This job isn’t about money. It’s about doing something I’m passionate about.


  1. AMEN my Fellow Brother and I am a Volunteer!!!

  2. I need a job that means something and i can do something else related. Plus the team work.. what i do now that team is me. I think personality wise i am going to go for it. I know who and how I am. TKS for this blog.

  3. I am always that person checking vitals if I am first person there. Wish me luck.

  4. I am looking into EMS programs, I really want to help people and love the parts of my job that are the unknown, the running around and trying to solve problems.