California Occupational Guides

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Summary Guide for

Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics in California

May also be called: EMTs; Fire Fighter First Responders; Firefighters and EMTs; Firefighters and Paramedics; Flight Paramedics

What Would I Do?

Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are skilled medical workers who respond by emergency vehicle to medical emergencies for the injured and ill. Following procedures, they examine victims to determine the nature and extent of injury or illness and administer first aid and emergency life support. They continue the treatment during transport to the hospital. There are three classifications of EMT: the EMT-I, EMT-II, and EMT-P. The EMT-I administers first aid and emergency basic life support. The EMT-II performs the same tasks required of the EMT-I plus more complex procedures. The Paramedic (EMT-P) is the most highly trained and performs the most extensive pre-hospital care.

An EMT works both indoors and out, in all types of weather. Most work for private ambulance companies. They are required to do considerable kneeling, bending, and heavy lifting. Because emergency services function 24 hours a day, EMTs have irregular working hours. EMTs employed by fire departments work about 50 hours a week. Those employed by small and rural hospitals frequently work between 45 and 60 hours a week and those in private ambulance services, between 45 and 50 hours.

Will This Job Fit Me?

The job of EMT may appeal to those who enjoy assisting others and promoting learning and personal development.

What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?

Wages vary between geographic locations, the individual's training and experience, and employment setting, such as private or public ambulance service organizations.

The median wage in 2021 for Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics in California is $0 annually. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.

Annual Wages for 2021Low
(25th percentile)
(50th percentile)
(75th percentile)
Source: EDD/LMID Occupational Employment Statistics Survey, 2021 Wages do not reflect self-employment.
View Wages for All Areas

Benefits generally include medical, dental, and vision insurance as well as vacation, sick leave, and retirement plans. The EMTs who work for fire or police departments typically receive the same benefits as firefighters or police officers.

What is the Job Outlook?

Demand will increase for EMTs as the population ages and people become more likely to have medical emergencies. There also will still be demand for part-time, volunteer EMTs in rural areas and smaller metropolitan areas.

How Do I Qualify?

Workers must complete formal training and a certification process to be able to work in California. Generally, a high school diploma is required to enter a training program to become an EMT or Paramedic. Training is offered by universities, community colleges, adult education programs, medical training units of the Armed Forces, some licensed general acute hospitals, and private post-secondary approved schools.

Finding a Job

Job seekers who want to become EMT-I trainees may contact the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) office in their county or in any county they wish to work. Qualified EMT-Is, EMT-IIs (Advanced EMTs), and Paramedics are encouraged to register with the EMS office in the county or counties where they want to work.

Job seekers should also apply directly to ambulance companies. Some city and county medical-provider agencies have a separate classification for EMTs and Paramedics. Applicants can find employment opportunities through placement offices at colleges or universities and instructors at training facilities. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide sources for job listings as well. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at and CalJOBSSM at

To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).

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