View of offshore platform with helicopter

From EMT to Offshore Paramedic: EMT Career Guide

How to Become an Offshore Paramedic: A Look at the Responsibilities, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary Expectations

View of offshore platform with helicopter

For some EMTs, career changes need to come in the form of a complete change of pace and retraining for a new set of responsibilities. In addition, ambition and changing interests leave some EMTs seeking new challenges and skill sets, while others need nothing more than a change of location to create job satisfaction.

EMT certification and experience can apply to various jobs outside of ambulances and hospitals. Of course, with each job comes a different set of requirements. Among the more unique jobs for experienced EMTs is that of the Offshore Paramedic.

(See our list of alternative jobs for EMTs and paramedics).

As you might guess, an offshore paramedic is a certified paramedic who works on an offshore oil rig treating illnesses and injuries among the oil workers. Oil rigs anchor many miles from land, so having a capable and well-trained emergency medical professional on board is extremely important.                                           

Let’s take a deeper look at the role of offshore paramedics and their required training, responsibilities, salaries, and benefits.

Offshore Paramedic Duties & Responsibilities

What Does an Offshore Paramedic Do?

The primary job of an offshore paramedic is to treat injuries and illnesses among crew members of offshore oil rigs. Typical EMT training will come in handy in these environments, but specialized training for this unique locale will also be necessary.

Typical responsibilities for offshore paramedics include:

  • Treating wounds and injuries
  • Administering medication, injections, and IVs
  • Running tests for flu and other illnesses
  • Testing onboard tap water for contaminants
  • Maintaining medical supply inventory
  • Inspecting first aid equipment
  • Assisting with safety drills
  • Overseeing sickbay operations

Offshore Paramedic Job Description

What Is a Typical Day for an Offshore Paramedic?

Like an “onshore” EMT or paramedic, much of the day for an offshore paramedic revolves around routines and schedule interruptions as needed by emergency calls.

Much of the offshore paramedic’s day is spent treating walk-in patients in the rig’s sick bay. But in-between patients, their time is mainly spent stocking, maintaining, and organizing medical equipment and being ready for emergency calls.

Offshore paramedics occasionally assist in certain necessary ship-wide activities, such as safety drills or presentations on safety procedures.

Offshore Paramedic Hours

Like the other workers on the rig, work shifts typically span 12 hours, but because an oil rig is operational 24 hours a day, those hours may not always be exact. And in this closed environment, the offshore paramedic is always considered on-call in case of emergencies. Offshore paramedics and rig workers also work two to three weeks on the rigs, then return home for two to three-week breaks.

Close up of a medical professional with a piggy bank

Offshore Paramedic Salary

How Much Does an Offshore Paramedic Make?

As of July 2022, the average salary* for an offshore paramedic is $63,000 a year, or $31 an hour (Zip Recruiter).

Offshore paramedics in the lower 25th percentile make an average salary* of $35,000, and those who earn in the top 75th percentile can make up to $69,000.

Many factors can influence compensation, however, including the current price of oil, weather delays during hurricane season, and location.

Offshore Paramedic Requirements

How to Become an Offshore Paramedic

If you’re a paramedic, then you already hold the required certification credentials for the job of an offshore paramedic. Many offshore paramedics also see the unique location as another benefit of the job.

EMTs considering a new career as offshore paramedics will need to undergo paramedic training and certification. This includes 1,200+ hours of training in addition to EMT training, which can take one to two years to complete. Some on-the-job training will likely also be necessary to adjust to life on an oil rig.

The Job of an Offshore Paramedic Might Be a Good Fit for You If:

  • You are calm under pressure
  • You can work away from home for weeks at a time
  • You don’t get seasick
  • You are okay living and working in small spaces
  • You can triage in emergencies
  • You enjoy adventure

Offshore Paramedic Education

What Training Is Required to Become an Offshore Paramedic?

No specialized degrees are required for EMTs or paramedics applying to become an offshore paramedic, but exact requirements may vary from company to company.

Although requirements will vary, some companies may require their offshore paramedics to complete a predetermined number of training hours while on the job. Life on an oil rig is unique, and the injuries can be as well. Therefore, offshore paramedics must be confident and prepared to respond to these injuries, regardless of how unfamiliar they may be.

As a certified EMT, becoming an offshore paramedic requires first becoming certified as a paramedic.

(Click here to review our comprehensive career guide on how to become a paramedic).

According to the NREMT (National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians), anyone applying to become a paramedic must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be 18 or older
  • You must currently be certified as an EMT (learn how to become an EMT here)
  • You must have completed an accredited paramedic program within the last two years
  • You must be CPR certified
  • You must complete a psychomotor competency portfolio (proof that you can physically handle the job of a paramedic)
  • You must complete the NREMT paramedic cognitive and psychomotor certification exams

How Long Does It Take to Become an Offshore Paramedic?

The time required to become a paramedic depends on your chosen educational route.

If you study full-time, you may be able to complete your training within a year.

If you study part-time while continuing to work as an EMT, your courses may take up to two to three years to complete.

Some programs also require future paramedics to have up to six months of experience as an EMT before they can begin their paramedic classes.

Some paramedics choose to advance their careers and training with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Paramedics who aspire to management roles or want to enroll in medical school eventually typically choose this route.

Close up of clipboard and laptop

Offshore Paramedic Certification

As mentioned above, offshore paramedics must earn the same credentials as traditional paramedics.

To begin, you’ll need to register for the exam at NREMT.org. The cost of registration fee is $125. Upon completion, you’ll be emailed an ATT (authorization to test) and your exam location.

Paramedic certification consists of two main parts: cognitive and psychomotor exams.

The Cognitive Exam – The cognitive portion of the exam focuses on many of the core EMT principles you learned during your paramedic training program:

  • Airway
  • Cardiology
  • Medicine
  • OBGYN
  • Trauma patients
  • Operations

The test is graded on a pass/fail basis.

If you pass, congratulations! You’re ready to take the next step in your career and don the paramedic uniform.

If you fail, don’t panic. You can take the test up to six times before retaking any training courses (after your third attempt, you may also be required to take a 48-hour remedial course). Also, the system provides feedback on areas or questions you missed, so you should have a good idea of where to spend extra study hours.

Students must wait 15 days between retakes, giving you plenty of time to brush up on any problem areas.

The Psychomotor Exam – In addition to your computer exam (Cognitive), paramedic students must also pass a psychomotor exam. This exam tests your ability to apply your knowledge in the field. During the exam, you’ll:

  • Size-up a scene
  • Perform initial resuscitation
  • Take a patient’s history
  • Make a secondary assessment
  • Read an ECG and manage both:
    1. A cardiac irregularity, such as arrhythmia
    2. A cardiac arrest

You’ll also be tested on your all-important communication skills—receiving information and giving clear commands.

Offshore Paramedic Required Skills

Besides the educational and certification requirements, successful offshore paramedics typically exhibit the following skills:

  • Patience – One of the essential traits of an offshore paramedic, or any paramedic, is the ability to stay calm during stressful situations.
  • Resource Management – Resources are limited onboard an oil rig, so an offshore paramedic must know how to carefully manage their supplies and personnel.
  • Decision Making – Is an injury treatable, or does it require helicopter transport to the mainland? This is always the first question an offshore paramedic must consider, so they must be decisive. They must also be capable of weighing the pros and cons of any solution during an emergency.
  • Communication – Offshore paramedics must communicate clearly with their patients, managers, and other emergency medical professionals on and offshore.

Smiling female paramedic

From EMT to Offshore Paramedic

How Will Your EMT Experience Help You Become an Offshore Paramedic?

EMT and Paramedic experience is more than just helpful for becoming an offshore paramedic—it’s required. Emergency medical experience provides a good background for life on an oil rig. But while some injuries and illnesses on a rig may be unlike those treated onshore, experience, training, and a solid understanding of technique are priceless assets.

Other benefits of EMT experience include:

  • Shift Experience – Station and rig shifts are very similar in time and expectations. EMTs and paramedics know the importance of adjusting their internal clocks, getting rest when possible, and how to spring into action as needed.
  • Proof of Performance – EMTs and paramedics have proven themselves capable of handling stressful emergencies.
  • Communication – EMTs and paramedics understand the tones and vocabulary required to communicate with patients, emergency dispatchers, doctors, and bystanders.
  • Leadership – EMTs and paramedics are often required to assume leadership responsibilities during emergencies or other chaotic situations. Anything from equipment malfunctions to storms can cause injuries and disruptions on an oil rig, and assertive leadership is essential to safety and getting the job done.
  • Organizational Skills – EMTs and paramedics are accustomed to collecting patient information and triaging during emergencies. They are also very familiar with maintaining equipment and supplies.

Beginning Your Career as an Offshore Paramedic

Becoming an offshore paramedic is a unique, exciting, and potentially lucrative next step for qualified EMTs and paramedics. If you’re not already an EMT and want to gain real-world experience to become an offshore paramedic, you’ll need to start by training for EMT certification.

Not only will becoming an offshore paramedic enhance your career, but you’ll also be helping people and saving lives. So if this sounds right for you, take that first step toward your future as an offshore paramedic.

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