Review 2020’s top online paramedic programs, read through course details, learn about accreditation, and get key info on careers and salaries for paramedics after graduation.
Written By Edumed Staff
Canon Welch began her career as an EMT-Basic/Firefighter before attending the Foothill College Paramedic program. She holds the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians-Paramedic certification and works as an instructor for the American Heart Association teaching future generations of paramedics and proctoring the NREMT exam.
Last Updated: 08/07/2020 ——
There are many programs to help paramedics train for their career, but not every one will be the right fit for each student. In order to help future paramedics choose the training program that’s right for them, EduMed has created a new Best in Class initiative. The accredited schools compiled on this list have been vetted for several factors, including their academic comprehensiveness and affordability. The following is a closer look at some of the standout schools that appear on our list.
University of California – Los Angeles
The Center for Prehospital Care at the University of California, Los Angeles offers a part-time hybrid program that students can complete in about a year. Hopeful paramedics are required to participate in online discussion sessions one night per week for 32 weeks, as well as weekly sessions that are conducted on campus.
students complete the didactic phase of the program, they move on to
participate in the clinical and field phases, which provide hands-on
reinforcement of the principles they learned. During the clinical
phase, which is about four weeks long, students receive training at
one of the hospitals in the area where they are supervised by a
doctor or nurse. The field portion of UCLA’s program allows
students to work in a paramedic unit with experienced professionals
for eight to 12 weeks. The program, which has the motto “matching
energy with energy,” also provides additional resources—such
as tutoring, research, and skills practice—to help ensure that
students are successful.
of January 2019, the tuition for this program is $16,000, and
students who choose to take advantage of the school’s payment plan
option pay $16,515. Those who need assistance may be eligible to
receive scholarships made available through UCLA.
Crowder College’s hybrid paramedic program is made up of five eight-week sessions, three of which can be completed online. Students in this program complete 600 hours of didactic classroom instruction and then go on to complete 320 internship hours conducted in a hospital and 260 internship hours at a paramedic unit.
addition, students are required to complete a capstone project where
they hone the communication skills they need to work effectively with
patients, colleagues, nurses, doctors, firefighters, and police
officers. The work they do during this time culminates in a
presentation designed to demonstrate students’ knowledge of the
material they learned throughout the program.
who enroll in Crowder College’s paramedic program pay $13,016 as of
early 2019. This amount includes tuition, books, and fees for
liability insurance, uniforms, equipment, and drug screenings.
Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University offers paramedic training programs on the associate’s and bachelor’s degree level. Students who enroll in the school’s paramedicine associate’s degree program complete coursework online that teaches them how to provide services like assessments, advanced life support, and OB/GYN emergency treatment. When students complete the required classes online, which are offered in eight-week long semesters, they go on to put their knowledge into practice with hands-on emergency medical training.
students who want to get more in-depth training, EKU offers a
bachelor’s degree in emergency services administration. People who
enroll in this program study topics such as:
and advanced life support
services law and ethics
with the associate’s degree program, when students complete their
coursework, they are required to participate in clinical and field
work for their hands-on training.
in both the associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs pay $409
per credit hour. In order to support members of the military
community, Eastern Kentucky University offerings a tuition rate of
$250 per credit hour to service members.
Key Benefits of the Paramedic Degree Online?
have a demanding job that requires a significant amount of hands-on
training in order to be effective when working with patients. Since
practical learning is such an important part of paramedic training,
some people may be reluctant to enroll in an online program. However,
much of the curriculum is based on theory, so students can actually
reap many benefits from pursuing an online degree. The following are
some of the reasons why online programs are a good choice.
Benefits. No matter what they go to school for, chances are students are concerned about their education costs. One of the benefits of getting an online degree in paramedic studies is that students can save a significant amount on their tuition thanks to the ability to complete their education quickly. In some cases, students can complete their training in about a year and immediately get out into the workforce. Depending on the school, students may be able to pay for their education on a per-credit basis, but other times they may be charged a flat fee.
Another important benefit of enrolling in
an online program is flexibility. Many programs are asynchronous,
meaning they allow students to work at their own pace so they can
arrange to watch lectures and complete assignments around their
individual schedules. This is a great option for students who hold
down full-time jobs and raise families.
How it Works. When students enroll in hybrid paramedic programs, it gives them the opportunity to complete much of their coursework through the school’s online learning management system, while still getting the hands-on experience they need during internships. For example, a hybrid program may require that students travel to campus for one session a week in order to reinforce what they have learned online. In other cases, students may be required to complete the majority of their work on campus, but are given the opportunity to do a portion of their coursework online. Either way, these programs allow students to fit their education into their lifestyle.
are several options that students can choose from when they study to
become a paramedic. In some cases, students may select a shorter
program so they can land an entry-level position right away. In other
cases, students may want to get more in-depth training, so they may
enroll in programs that take longer to complete. The following are
descriptions of the paramedic program levels students can pursue
depending on their needs and goals.
Certificate programs, which generally take about a year to a year
and a half to complete, give students the basic training they need
to get a job at hospitals, fire departments, private ambulance
companies, and government agencies. Students on this level generally
study areas such as pharmacology, pathophysiology, patient
assessment, and trauma experiences. In addition to online classes,
students are required to get hands-on experience through laboratory
work, clinical experiences, and field internships.
Diploma programs are designed to help students hone their paramedic
skills, such as emergency resuscitation, assessment, cardiac life
support, and trauma care skills. In addition, students learn how to
communicate effectively with patients and peers, as well as apply
the field’s ethical and legal standards to their work. These
programs, which take about a year and a half to complete, are made
up of online coursework and hands-on training through clinical
experiences and internships. In addition, students may be required
to complete a capstone project to demonstrate their understanding of
all the material they studied throughout the program.
degree: Those who want to
dedicate more time to their degrees may choose to enroll in a
two-year associate degree paramedic program. These programs are
designed to give students a more advanced paramedic education, which
can be attractive to employers that prefer to hire workers with at
least an associate degree. When students begin associate’s programs,
they complete the didactic portion of their degree where they learn
the foundations of paramedics by taking courses about advanced life
support, anatomy and physiology, and critical trauma care. To
solidify the theories they’ve learned, they go on to complete
fieldwork under the supervision of paramedicine professionals. In
addition, students are required to take general education classes —
like psychology, English composition, and political science — in
order to develop additional skills that will ultimately make them a
productive member of the workforce.
Bachelor’s degree: Bachelor’s level paramedic science degrees can be earned by those who are entering the field for the first time or current professionals who want to advance in their careers and take leadership roles at their jobs. These programs, which take four years to complete, provide didactic coursework and clinical experiences designed to help students:
develop the clinical and interpersonal skills needed to treat diverse groups in the community
demonstrate a deep understanding of how emergency care works
utilize evidence-based medical principles when providing care.
As with associate’s degree programs,
students also take classes outside of their major to receive a
well-rounded education. These requirements may include courses in
foreign languages, sociology, mathematics, and humanities.
every paramedic studies program is created equally, so students need
to ensure that the programs they consider are going to provide them
with the quality training they need to prepare for their career. The
following are some characteristics students should consider when
looking for a school to possibly enroll in.
Accreditation: Students should choose a paramedic program that has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Pre-Hospital Continuing Education (CAPCE) in order to ensure that they learn the skills employers are looking for. In fact, accreditation is so important that people who have not attended an accredited school may not be eligible to earn the certification they need to obtain employment.
State Approved: Every state has different requirements and standards for paramedics, so students should find a school that has been approved by their state. Otherwise, they may waste their time and money completing a program that doesn’t yield the state certification they need to find employment.
NREMT Prep: In order to earn a license, students who graduate from paramedic programs are required to pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam. As a result, the coursework in the program students enroll in should prepare them for this test. In some cases, schools may even provide additional NREMT study resources to help.
Faculty & Support Services: When considering schools, students should look at the background of faculty members in order to ensure that they’re experts in the field. The people providing training should have significant experience themselves to effectively teach students the realities of being a paramedic. In addition, students should look at the amenities that schools offer, such as technical support, research materials, and access to the local medical community.
Medical Equipment & Training Facilities: Since students need to participate in simulated exercises before they can work with actual patients, it’s imperative that they have access to the best medical equipment and training facilities. Ideally, students should visit the campus or medical facility where clinical training will take place so they can ensure they’ll have access to state-of-the-art equipment.
Important Paramedic Knowledge & Skills
Treating patients in crisis is challenging and stressful, so professionals need a toolbox of skills they can use to give people the care they need. Some of the skills can be obtained during the online portion of the program, while others are learned during practical exercises conducted on campus. The following are examples of some of the skills that paramedics can learn through the online courses offered in their programs.
Administering medications: In order to learn how to administer medications during pre-hospital care, future paramedics are required to take pharmacology courses. These classes are designed to familiarize students with techniques for providing medications, drugs that are used for different types of conditions, and the dosages that should be given when treating patients. In addition, students learn about the side effects of different medications and the ethical and legal standards associated with providing these pharmaceuticals.
Performing assessments: Paramedics are required to make quick decisions about what’s wrong with patients and what needs to be done to treat them. The fundamentals of assessments can be taught in online courses where students learn how to recognize specific medical issues and help patients accordingly.
Working with special populations: Paramedics work with patients across the lifespan, so they can take online courses that address how to deal with special populations like infants and the elderly. These classes, which may focus on one population specifically or address different ones in the same course, teach students the special challenges associated with treating patients in these special groups.
While some skills can be acquired through online coursework, others require hands-on instruction. The following are examples of some of the skills students gain from their on-campus work.
Managing airways: When patients have an obstruction with their breathing, paramedics must know the techniques and tools necessary to clear those airways. This is one of the skills that can only be developed with practice during hands-on training provided on campus.
Providing intravenous medications: Although students can learn about the basics of pharmacology in an online class, in order to master how to give an intravenous treatment, they need to practice during simulated exercises.
Communicating with patients and peers: Paramedics must be able to communicate effectively with patients that may be challenging to work with because of the pain they’re experiencing. This takes compassionate communication skills that students learn by being in these situations firsthand. In addition, these professionals must also know how to communicate well with members of their team, so clinical experience is needed to gain this skill.
who are concerned about how they will pay for their paramedic
education have several options. Scholarships are often available
through the schools they attend, and students can get information
about them at the financial aid office. In addition, there may be
scholarships available from industry organizations that cater to
medical professionals, as well as government agencies. Students may
also be eligible for government grants that are issued on the federal
and state levels depending on their income. In addition, taking out
loans is an option for those who need additional funding.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job growth for paramedics between 2016 and 2026 will be 15 percent, which amounts to 37,400 additional jobs created during that time period. The agency reports that there are several factors driving this increase in available positions, including more specialized medical facilities being established and the older populations experiencing more health emergencies.
who pursue other medical support professions can also expect similar
increases in job prospects. For example, physician assistants will
experience a 37 percent increase between 2016 and 2026, dental
hygienists will have a 20 percent increase, and the registered
nursing field will add 15 percent more positions.
How Much Do Paramedics Make?
Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the median annual salary of paramedics is $33,380 per year as of May 2017. In addition, the agency reports that the lowest earners in the profession make $21,880 annually, while those who are in the top 90 percent of earners make $56,990.
Are There Career Advancement Opportunities for
Paramedics who want to move up the ladder in the health care field have different options they can pursue, including medical assistant, firefighter, and physician assistant careers. Also, these professionals may enroll in bridge programs if they are interested in nursing. To find out about this training, visit our page covering online paramedic to rn bridge programs.