Oil rig

From EMT to Offshore Paramedic: EMT Career Guide

How to Become an Offshore Paramedic: Duties, Responsibilities, Schooling, Requirements, Certifications, Job Outlook, and Salary

Oil rig

For people with EMT experience, some career changes may require a complete change of pace and retraining for a new set of responsibilities.

Others simply involve a change of location.

EMT certification and experience can potentially apply to a variety of jobs outside of ambulances and hospitals. Though there are other requirements, your EMT experience could help you become an Offshore Paramedic.

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

An offshore paramedic is a certified paramedic who works on an offshore oil rig and treats 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.                                           

Continue reading to learn more about the role of an offshore paramedic, as well as 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 work-related injuries and illnesses among crew members of offshore oil rigs.

Common 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 routine and schedule, interrupted as needed by emergency calls.

Stocking, maintaining, and organizing medical equipment is steady work between emergency calls, and much of the day is spent in the rig’s sick bay treating walk-in patients.

Occasionally, offshore paramedics may be asked to assist in ship-wide activities, such as safety drills or presentations on correct safety procedures.

Work shifts typically run 12 hours, but the offshore paramedic is always considered on-call in case of emergencies.

Offshore Paramedic Hours

Shifts for offshore paramedics, like the other rig workers, are normally “12 on, 12 off”, but because an oil rig is operational 24-hours a day, those hours may not always be exact. Offshore paramedics and rig workers also work two to three weeks at a time on the oil rigs, then return home for two to three-week breaks.

Paramedic with a patient

Offshore Paramedic Salary

How Much Does an Offshore Paramedic Make?

Currently, the average salary* for an offshore paramedic is $69,159 a year, or $33 an hour (Zip Recruiter).

Offshore paramedics in the lower 25th percentile make an average salary* of $36,500, and those who earn in the top 75th percentile can make up to $80,500.

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

Offshore Paramedic Requirements

How to Become an Offshore Paramedic

If you’re already a paramedic, one of the major draws to becoming an offshore paramedic is the fact you already hold the required certification credentials to qualify for the job.

Additional degrees or certification are rarely needed. however, some on-the-job training may be also be necessary to adjust to life on an oil rig.

EMTs with their eyes on a career as an offshore paramedic will need to go through 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.

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 emergency situations
  • You enjoy adventure

Offshore Paramedic Education

What Training Is Required to Become an Offshore Paramedic?

A specialized degree is not required for EMTs or paramedics applying to become an offshore paramedic, but exact requirements may vary from company to company.

Some companies may require their offshore paramedics to complete a set number of training hours while on the job. Life on an oil rig is unique, and so are the injuries. Therefore, offshore paramedics must feel confident and prepared to respond to these injuries, regardless of how unfamiliar they may be.

To become offshore paramedic, you must first be a certified 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 Be an Offshore Paramedic?

The time required to become a paramedic depends heavily on the educational route you choose.

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 you two to three years to complete.

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

Paramedics also have the option of advancing their training with a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university—though this route is typically reserved for paramedics who hope to advance to management roles or eventually enroll in medical school.

Offshore Paramedic Certification

As mentioned previously, offshore paramedics must earn the same credential as a traditional paramedic.

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

Paramedic certification consists of two main parts, the cognitive exam and the psychomotor exam.

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
  • Trauma patients, and
  • Operations

The test is graded on a pass/fail basis.

If you pass, congratulations! You’re ready to step into the paramedic uniform.

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

Students must wait 15 days between retakes, so that should give 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 as well. This exam tests your ability to apply your knowledge in the field. During the exam, you’ll be asked to:

  • 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 communication skills—both receiving information and giving commands.

Offshore Paramedic Required Skills

Besides the educational and certification requirements, offshore paramedics should exhibit the following skills to achieve success:

  • Patience – One of the most important traits of an offshore paramedic is the ability to stay calm during stressful situations.
  • Resource Management – Resources are limited to those onboard the oil rig, so an offshore paramedic must carefully manage their supplies and personnel.
  • Decision Making – Is an injury treatable, or does it require a helicopter transport to the mainland? Offshore paramedics must be decisive. They must also be capable of weighing the pros and cons of any solution during an emergency.
  • Communication – Offshore paramedics must remain in contact with their patients, their managers, and other emergency medicine professionals both on- and offshore.

From EMT to Offshore Paramedic

How Will My EMT Experience Help Me Become an Offshore Paramedic?

EMT and Paramedic experience isn’t just helpful for becoming an offshore paramedic… it’s a requirement.  Emergency medical experience with ambulance crews or in hospital settings can be directly applied to life on an oil rig. Some injuries and illnesses on a rig may be unlike those treated onshore, but experience, training, and a solid understanding of technique is priceless.

Other benefits include:

  • Shift Experience – Station shifts and rig shifts are very similar in time and expectations. EMTs and paramedics already know the importance of getting rest when they can, and how to spring into action at any time, day or night.
  • Proof of Performance – EMTs and paramedics have proven experience in handling emergency situations.
  • Communication – EMTs and paramedics understand the tones and vocabulary required to communicate with patients, bystanders, emergency dispatchers, and doctors.
  • Leadership – EMTs and paramedics are often required to assume leadership responsibilities during emergencies or other chaotic situation. On an oil rig, anything from equipment malfunctions to storms can strike, and assertive leadership is essential to getting the job done.
  • Organizational Skills – EMTs and paramedics are accustomed to collecting patient information and triaging during emergency situations. They are also familiar with maintaining equipment and supplies.

Beginning Your Career as an Offshore Paramedic

View of oil rig

Becoming an offshore paramedic is an exciting and potentially lucrative next step for qualified EMTs and paramedics. If you’re not already an EMT and would like to gain the real-world experience needed to become an offshore paramedic, you can start by training for EMT certification.

Not only will you be enhancing your career, you’ll be helping people and saving lives.  If this sounds right for you, now is an excellent time to take that first step towards your future as an offshore paramedic.