new EMT - career advice

EMTengineer

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Hello all

I am 31 years old and looking to change career paths. Doing an EMT course in the spring and looking for employment directly after. I'd like to get some experience (a year max) and then move to a different state. I'm in FL currently and would like to move to somewhere that has good employment opportunities (muni/county), continuing education nearby, mountains/forests, 4 seasons (more winter than summer, hate FL currently), and good outdoor recreation. Currently thinking in or around the rocky mountain area, I want to go someplace cold.

Wherever I move to, I will work for a year (in-state tuition) then decide which path to take.
1. Pursue an advanced degree, ie. RN, PA, med school. In this case I would finish whatever prerequisites there were while working as an EMT, then go to school for the program. I have an engineering degree currently and have a lot of sciences done, would need to knock out 4 more. 4-??? years out.
2. I stay in pre-hospital care and/or expand into fire. Go to fire school and get on with a muni/county with good benefits. Get medic certified and explore what advanced opportunities are available (flight, critical care). 3-4 years out.

I would like some input and criticisms from people who have been in the industry from EMT and branched out/up. I was a consulting engineer for 6+ years and made good money. I understand the difference in pay potential for these paths. My priorities in order are: day to day fulfillment, location, insurance/pension benefits, salary. I dont have children and am not planning on it for awhile. I live with my gf and dogs. GF is a park ranger, so location would allow her to find employment as well.

-Locations of opportunity that fit the criteria?
-After this spring EMT course (May 2016), will I need experience before moving, or can I move directly?
-What is the process for being accredited/certified in another state other than FL?
-Is FL certification more or less stringent than other states? ie. will I require more schooling if I move to say WY?
-What paths did you take after EMT?
-Will being a 31 yo EMT be a liability or an advantage?

Thanks for your time.
Cheers
 

Tigger

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It can take time to get on with a government service. Larger services may not require much experience but the competition can be significant. It *can* be helpful to be living and working in the area where your goal department is. Once you finish your national registry you can apply for a state certification in most states with that alone. Inexperienced EMTs are a dime a dozen. Out of state experience may not make much difference in getting hired either.

It seems to me that if you're goal is be living elsewhere that it be worth moving as soon as you can and starting to begin networking where you want to actually work.

I live in Colorado now after starting working as an EMT in Massachusetts. I was treated pretty much as a non-experience person and had to start from the bottom with people fresh out of school. I worked a couple of less than desirable full time positions with private companies while also working for a government service part time. Eventually a full time spot opened up there and I jumped ship to a pretty great place. It took a year to get there though.
 

EMTengineer

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It can take time to get on with a government service. Larger services may not require much experience but the competition can be significant. It *can* be helpful to be living and working in the area where your goal department is. Once you finish your national registry you can apply for a state certification in most states with that alone. Inexperienced EMTs are a dime a dozen. Out of state experience may not make much difference in getting hired either.

It seems to me that if you're goal is be living elsewhere that it be worth moving as soon as you can and starting to begin networking where you want to actually work.

I live in Colorado now after starting working as an EMT in Massachusetts. I was treated pretty much as a non-experience person and had to start from the bottom with people fresh out of school. I worked a couple of less than desirable full time positions with private companies while also working for a government service part time. Eventually a full time spot opened up there and I jumped ship to a pretty great place. It took a year to get there though.

Appreciate the input. I was hoping accreditation and experience worked in the way that you put it.

Whereabouts in CO? Is your pay comparable to cost of living?
 

Tigger

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Colorado Springs area. Cost of living is pretty low, as are the wages. Denver has a much higher cost of living without a commensurate wage increase for EMTs. Different story for paramedics so we'll what the next few years bring for me.
 

mgr22

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I also went from engineering (industrial) to EMS, but I continued to consult for about 20 years. Mixing the two helped with the bills.

I went through the Stony Brook paramedic program 20 years after I graduated from engineering school. Great program, but becoming a medic was actually harder for me because of all the practical work. I think my age (41 at the time) was more of an advantage than disadvantage.

Day-to-day fulfillment feels greater in EMS. I guess that's why I switched. Regarding location, I've been a medic in NY and TN. Can't complain about either. TN is a lot less expensive and the climate is a little milder, so it seems better for someone like myself nearing retirement.

Benefits are more dependent on your employer than your industry. Insurance, if you mean the liability kind, is something you should carry yourself, regardless of whom you work for. It's about $200 a year for a medic.

Salary? I guess you already know you'll be taking a substantial pay cut. Mine was about 80% when I started working as a medic, but like I said, consulting part-time helped compensate for some of that.

You either have to be really committed to the change, or try easing into it by volunteering or working in EMS part-time first. EMS isn't going to be about saving lives as much as just helping people who have all kinds of needs and agendas. There are days you'll wish you were doing something easier -- like engineering.
 

MS Medic

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If your not considering making EMS a long term career, think about going to work for AMR. Once you've been at your initial location for a minimum amount of time, you can transfer to an operation in another area of the country. AMR will pay you moving expenses and depending on where you go, you might even get a sign on bonus.
 

Tigger

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If your not considering making EMS a long term career, think about going to work for AMR. Once you've been at your initial location for a minimum amount of time, you can transfer to an operation in another area of the country. AMR will pay you moving expenses and depending on where you go, you might even get a sign on bonus.
AMR will not pay moving expenses here as we don't have an issue attracting applicants. I imagine this is true with most of the top tier AMR ops.
 

EMTengineer

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Colorado Springs area. Cost of living is pretty low, as are the wages. Denver has a much higher cost of living without a commensurate wage increase for EMTs. Different story for paramedics so we'll what the next few years bring for me.
Thanks for your input. I have family in NM, WY or CO seem more my style.. either would be ideal. Do you rent?

I also went from engineering (industrial) to EMS, but I continued to consult for about 20 years. Mixing the two helped with the bills.

I went through the Stony Brook paramedic program 20 years after I graduated from engineering school. Great program, but becoming a medic was actually harder for me because of all the practical work. I think my age (41 at the time) was more of an advantage than disadvantage.

Day-to-day fulfillment feels greater in EMS. I guess that's why I switched. Regarding location, I've been a medic in NY and TN. Can't complain about either. TN is a lot less expensive and the climate is a little milder, so it seems better for someone like myself nearing retirement.

Benefits are more dependent on your employer than your industry. Insurance, if you mean the liability kind, is something you should carry yourself, regardless of whom you work for. It's about $200 a year for a medic.

Salary? I guess you already know you'll be taking a substantial pay cut. Mine was about 80% when I started working as a medic, but like I said, consulting part-time helped compensate for some of that.

You either have to be really committed to the change, or try easing into it by volunteering or working in EMS part-time first. EMS isn't going to be about saving lives as much as just helping people who have all kinds of needs and agendas. There are days you'll wish you were doing something easier -- like engineering.
I've thought long and hard about continuing with consulting work. At the end of the day I'd rather have been busting my hump actually helping people (I get it varies greatly in how help is defined here) than meeting a deadline or fulfilling a quota for a contract. Who knows maybe later down the line I'll return to it, I will always have EIT after my name.
How have you progressed through EMS? EMS AA?
What positions did you go through to get where you are now?
I get that an EMT makes about 30k/year and medic somewhat more.. 35k+? Do more niche positions as a medic make considerably more? flight, critical care?
I've been to a few fire stations in my area inquiring about volunteering, they all seem open to it. I didnt know that 80%+ of fire dept calls were medical.

If your not considering making EMS a long term career, think about going to work for AMR. Once you've been at your initial location for a minimum amount of time, you can transfer to an operation in another area of the country. AMR will pay you moving expenses and depending on where you go, you might even get a sign on bonus.
so AMR = large, national, private ambulance company? Whats the minimum amount of time?
A quick search brought up there page, and under the 'careers and training' tab, the first testimonial is by someone from AMR Cheyenne.. I've been having Cheyenne, WY stuck in my head the past couple of weeks.. maybe its a sign. Maybe something will be open come 6 months from now. Appreciate the input.
 

EMTengineer

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AMR will not pay moving expenses here as we don't have an issue attracting applicants. I imagine this is true with most of the top tier AMR ops.
Makes sense, if they have a pool of willing potential local employees, why pay for extra? Unless they are some superstar
 

MS Medic

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AMR will not pay moving expenses here as we don't have an issue attracting applicants. I imagine this is true with most of the top tier AMR ops.
Actually they pay moving expenses for transfers usually. Getting a sign on bonus to is the part that tends to be operationally dependant.

As far as the minimum amount of time goes, it's usually two years although you'll want to contact individual opperations to confirm that.
 

EMTengineer

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Actually they pay moving expenses for transfers usually. Getting a sign on bonus to is the part that tends to be operationally dependant.

As far as the minimum amount of time goes, it's usually two years although you'll want to contact individual opperations to confirm that.
Yes, seeing some out of the way places and probably where they are desperate for certain slots to be filled had sign on bonuses. Are there any comparable outlets to AMR? or are they the biggest game around and then you have smaller regional companies?
 

MS Medic

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Are there any comparable outlets to AMR?
I couldn't give you an honest answer to that statement. AMR is the only corporate EMS I've worked for. There are other large national and regional EMS companies but I don't know any of their policies.
 

Tigger

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All I know is my own operation. We have lots of transfers from other states and the region and none of them were offered contracts.
 

MS Medic

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I work at one of the operations that is an absolute meat grinder. We have guys transfer in on a regular basis. But in that process, I've met a few guys that are single and transfer operations every couple of years or so, exploring the country on AMR's dime.
 

mgr22

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Re your questions:

If by "EMS AA" you mean an Associate's degree in EMS, no, I just have my B.S. in IE.

I started in EMS as a volunteer, became an EMT, then a medic two years later, started teaching at Stony Brook, worked in and around NYC, took a hospital-based supervisory job, started writing for EMS publications, relocated from NY to TN and worked part-time as a medic at Opryland until I got hurt. Now I mostly write.

I think pay is more dependent on region than certification. Here in the Southeast, we're pretty much at the bottom of the scale, with medics starting at $15-17.
 

MS Medic

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If your asking a about pay, where I'm from EMTs make about 30-35K a year. Medics make 45-60K a year without OT. Hours and pay vary per service.
 

EMTengineer

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I work at one of the operations that is an absolute meat grinder. We have guys transfer in on a regular basis. But in that process, I've met a few guys that are single and transfer operations every couple of years or so, exploring the country on AMR's dime.
pretty cool gig

Re your questions:

If by "EMS AA" you mean an Associate's degree in EMS, no, I just have my B.S. in IE.

I started in EMS as a volunteer, became an EMT, then a medic two years later, started teaching at Stony Brook, worked in and around NYC, took a hospital-based supervisory job, started writing for EMS publications, relocated from NY to TN and worked part-time as a medic at Opryland until I got hurt. Now I mostly write.

I think pay is more dependent on region than certification. Here in the Southeast, we're pretty much at the bottom of the scale, with medics starting at $15-17.
I appreciate you explaining your path. From talking with some fire guys, they said that a typical path is while in fire rescue, get medic and/or EMS AA, then you're set to move up to chief, or marshal, possibly even an inspector of some sorts after. The consensus was to start in EMT for sure though.

You taught EMS related curriculum after ~5 years as medic/EMT? How is the writing gig? Is manuals/textbooks?

Again, thanks for the insight of what EMT can lead to.

If your asking a about pay, where I'm from EMTs make about 30-35K a year. Medics make 45-60K a year without OT. Hours and pay vary per service.
Yes my assumption was that EMTs are around 30k, medics were 35k-40k. Had no idea medics were 50k+.. would flight or other specialty medic positions be even higher?
 

mgr22

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I started teaching medic students at Stony Brook as soon as I got out of medic school, and continued for 11 years.

I write columns and features for EMS World and EMS1.
 
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