University of Washington

13 Top Paramedic Schools in the United States

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”

— Unknown

What Is a Paramedic?

Not everyone who provides emergency medical services is a paramedic. There are three levels of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedic is the highest.

Paramedic EMTs are certified to perform the most advanced emergency medical procedures. Often, they’re required to have both EMT and Advanced EMT certification before they can train to become a paramedic, along with other prerequisites.

Paramedics are trained and certified to perform advanced support (ALS), which can include administering IV fluids, injections, medications and performing advanced respiratory procedures.

Paramedics also perform the same functions as EMTs, such as assessing the patient’s condition, treating wounds, performing CPR, defibrillation, and delivering babies.

As leaders of their rescue team, paramedics must possess strong leadership, critical thinking and decision-making skills. They must also be able to perform complex life-saving functions under extremely stressful conditions while simultaneously managing other team members.

There are three levels of EMT certification:

  1. EMT: Duties include providing basic life support functions and performing non-invasive procedures.
  2. Advanced EMT (AEMT): Duties include more advanced procedures, such as inserting IVs, intubating patients, and in some states, administering drugs.
  3. Paramedic: Duties include Advanced Life Support (ALS) such as administering IV fluids, injections, medications and performing advanced respiratory life

(Click here to learn how to become an EMT).

How to Become a Paramedic

The first step to becoming a paramedic is to get certified as an EMT or AEMT. This EMT basic training is available through many community colleges, universities, and vocational training institutions.

It typically takes about 6 months to complete the 120 to 150 hours of training before you can take the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) certification exam.

As an EMT, you can provide emergency medical treatment for a hospital, ambulance company, fire department, or emergency medical services agency. Most people work as EMTs for at least 6 months to get some experience before taking the additional 1,200 to 1,800 hours of training required to become a paramedic. Many schools require that you work as an EMT for 6 months or more before you can enroll in their paramedic program.

(Click here to learn how to advance your career from EMT to Paramedic).

Our review of the top paramedic schools will show you the range of features you should expect from the best paramedic training programs in the U.S.

About Paramedic School

Paramedic training programs are offered at a number of different types of schools, including community colleges, state and private universities, vocational colleges, and technical schools. Programs can vary greatly in terms of cost, time to graduation, delivery format, student support services, graduate satisfaction, pass rates for certification exams, and other variables.

Based on those variables, we curated the top 13 schools that offer the best paramedic programs. Because different aspects of a paramedic program are more important to different students, it’s hard to identify the best paramedic training overall. It really depends on what program features are most important to YOU. For example, a short program length may be more important to you than cost. Or you may value financial assistance more than job placement. In the end, you will have to decide which program features are most valuable to you.

For this ranking of top colleges for paramedical courses, we have listed 13 schools that offer an exceptional combination of features. This could mean they were better than average on all criteria, or have one or two very strong features—such as low cost and short program length—but are otherwise average.

Many of the schools in our list may be too far away for you to attend. The purpose of this list, however, is not to promote enrollment for these programs. Our goal is to help you identify the attributes and  program features you should consider when searching for paramedic programs near you.

The educational requirements to be a paramedic are rigorous. Many community colleges offer two-year degree programs in paramedic training, a few colleges offer a bachelor’s degree. The curriculum consists of both classroom training and clinical training at an EMS agency, such as a fire department or ambulance company. Some of the more rigorous programs may have pre-requisites, including college-level Biology, Math, English, and other subjects.

Most paramedic programs will cover a wide range of health topics, including anatomy, physiology, advanced life support, advanced pediatric life support, and basic trauma life support.

As a certified paramedic, you’ll have more job opportunities and responsibilities than an EMT or AEMT, plus you’ll earn a higher salary. Paramedics are needed in a wide range of venues, including life support helicopters, cruise ships, ocean rescue, S.W.A.T. teams, as well as any number of special locations or events, such as amusement parks, large resorts, or large music festivals.

(Click here to learn about 13 Alternative Jobs for EMTs & Paramedics).

Now, to our list of top paramedic programs in the U.S…

1. University of Washington—Seattle Campus

University of Washington

The University of Washington paramedic training program was started in the late 1960’s by a group of Seattle physicians, many of whom had wartime medical experience. They recognized that motivated people with a basic education could be trained to perform sophisticated, physician-level medical procedures with proficiency.

Location:

Seattle, WA.

Cost/Tuition:

Free! All paramedic student tuition is covered by the Medic One foundation, However, students are liable for housing and living expenses.

Financial Aid:

Financing and financial aid is available to qualified students.

Length of Program:

10 months.

Format:

Classroom lecture, labs, clinical rotations, and field practicums.

Quality of Instruction:

100% NREMT pass rate.

Graduate Satisfaction:

N/A

Student Services:

100% job placement.

College Credit:

No.

Prerequisites:

Current EMT certification, college level Math and English, valid Washington State driver’s license.

Other:

Due in part to the paramedic training program at UW, King County is known as the best place in the world to have a heart attack.

 

2. University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)

University of California Los Angeles

The UCLA Paramedic Education Program is recognized as being among the first, largest, and best paramedic programs in the world. As a graduate of the UCLA Paramedic Education Program, you will join an elite team of medical professionals saving lives and defining excellence in the field.

Location:

Los Angeles, CA.

Cost/Tuition:

$10,500 for the campus-based program. $16,000 for the hybrid-online program.

Financial Aid:

Financing and financial aid is available to qualified students.

Length of Program:

8 months.

Format:

Hybrid-online and on-campus program.

Quality of Instruction:

99% NREMT pass rate.

Graduate Satisfaction:

81% retention.

Student Services:

91% job placement.

College Credit:

Up to 36 units.

Prerequisites:

Current EMT certification and at least 6 months of work experience as an EMT.

Other:

Programs are taught by some of the most internationally renowned faculty in the EMS field, including Baxter Larmon and Heather Davis. Many of their faculty are also active researchers in EMS and EMS education. They don’t just pass on the knowledge, they create it.

Furthermore, aspiring paramedics are invited to attend a Guest Paramedic Lecture Session at no cost. This allows prospective students to see if they like the school’s teaching style.

 

3. Weber State University

Weber State University

The Weber State Paramedic Program offers an interdisciplinary education taught by bachelors, masters, and doctoral-educated paramedics, nurses, and physicians. With over 1,200 hours of education above and beyond the paramedic prerequisites, the WSU paramedic program is a time-tested formula of lectures, skills-labs, clinical, and field internships.

Location:

Ogden, UT.

Cost/Tuition:

$6,000 – $9,000.

Financial Aid:

Financing and financial aid is available to qualified students.

Length of Program:

1,200 hours.

Format:

Campus-based. Online lectures option.

Quality of Instruction:

100% NREMT pass rate.

Graduate Satisfaction:

77% retention.

Student Services:

100% job placement

College Credit:

Yes

Prerequisites:

EMT certification; Math, English and Medical Terminology classes, 2.7 GPA.

Other:

WSU Paramedic graduates have a long standing first attempt pass rate of 98–100% on the National Registry exam for any rolling 3-year period. This compares much higher to the national average of 76%. As such, WSU graduates rank in the top 5% nationally, and students achieve 400% more supervised endotracheal intubations than the average paramedic student in the nation.

 

4. Grady EMS Academy

Grady EMS Academy

Grady EMS provides 911 services to the City of Atlanta and 16 counties across Georgia. Grady EMS, the hospital-based emergency care component of Grady Health System, has continuously demonstrated its commitment to public service by providing advanced life support and emergency ambulance services to any citizen or visitor transported within the areas they serve for 125 years.

Location:

Atlanta, GA.

Cost/Tuition:

$4,800.

Financial Aid:

Financing and financial aid is available to qualified students.

Length of Program:

1 year.

Format:

Classroom lecture, labs, clinical rotations, and field practicums.

Quality of Instruction:

100% NREMT pass rate.

Graduate Satisfaction:

50% retention—potentially due to rigor.

Student Services:

100% job placement.

College Credit:

No.

Prerequisites:

EMT certification; valid driver’s license.

Other:

Grady Health System has a 125-year history in Georgia, starting out with a single horse drawn ambulance. Students of The Grady EMS Academy gain hands-on experience in Georgia’s level 1 trauma centers and experience with Georgia’s busiest ambulance provider.

 

5. Central Washington University

Central Washington University

The Central Washington University EMS Paramedicine Program has been training individuals in prehospital emergency medical care since 1973 and is one of only a few baccalaureate degree-awarding paramedic programs in the country with an accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Location:

Ellensburg, WA.

Cost/Tuition:

$13,350.

Financial Aid:

Financing and financial aid is available to qualified students.

Length of Program:

1 year, 4 year (optional).

Format:

Classroom lecture, labs, clinical rotations, and field practicums.

Quality of Instruction:

96% NREMT pass rate.

Graduate Satisfaction:

84.6% retention.

Student Services:

100% job placement.

College Credit:

Yes.

Prerequisites:

EMT certification, letters of recommendation.

Other:

One of the first and only schools nationwide to offer a paramedicine baccalaureate. Educating since 1973, education far exceeds required course load.

 

6. Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University

Western Carolina University is the first baccalaureate paramedic program in the nation. The program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs through the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the EMS Professions. Currently, WCU is one of only 20 institutions in the nation offering the Bachelor of Science degree in Emergency Medical Care.

Location:

Cullowhee, NC.

Cost/Tuition:

$3,926 per year in-state, $7,926 out-of-state.

Financial Aid:

Financing and financial aid is available to qualified students.

Length of Program:

1 year, 4 year (optional).

Format:

Classroom lecture, labs, clinical rotations, and field practicums.

Quality of Instruction:

100% NC Paramedic pass rate; 86% NREMT pass rate.

Graduate Satisfaction:

84% retention.

Student Services:

100% job placement.

College Credit:

Yes.

Prerequisites:

EMT certification.

Other:

Students may choose one of two available concentrations: Health Management or Science (pre-med). Program graduates may pursue careers as paramedics, educators, physicians, physician assistants, and EMS administrators.

 

7. Lake Area Technical College

Lake Area Technical College

With a well-established reputation for academic excellence, Lake Area Technical College grads are in-demand all over South Dakota and beyond. In fact, 98% of Lake Area Technical College grads are employed or are continuing their education.

Location:

Watertown, SD.

Cost/Tuition:

$2,616.

Financial Aid:

Financing and financial aid is available to qualified students.

Length of Program:

15 months.

Format:

Classroom lecture, labs, clinical rotations, and field practicums. Online hybrid option.

Quality of Instruction:

88% NREMT pass rate.

Graduate Satisfaction:

70% retention.

Student Services:

100% job placement.

College Credit:

Yes.

Prerequisites:

N/A

Other:

Paramedic graduates earning in top 33rd percentile of paramedic earners just 6 months after graduation. Applicants will know within one week if they have been accepted to Lake Area Technical College.

 

8. University of Pittsburgh

University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh offers one of the only bachelor’s degree programs in Emergency Medicine (EM) in the United States. The program provides graduates with a competitive advantage in EMS, health care, and graduate & professional study.

Location:

Pittsburgh, PA.

Cost/Tuition:

$23,452 per year.

Financial Aid:

Financing and financial aid is available to qualified students.

Length of Program:

2 years.

Format:

Classroom lecture, labs, clinical rotations, and field practicums.

Quality of Instruction:

100% NREMT pass rate.

Graduate Satisfaction:

96% retention.

Student Services:

100% job placement.

College Credit:

Yes.

Prerequisites:

60 college credits, a GPA of 2.5 or higher.

Other:

The first EMT squadron was created by Pittsburgh’s Freedom House. With a long history of EMT education, Pitt offers one of the few baccalaureate programs in emergency medicine. Its course work is one of the most rigorous worldwide, with much time spent in level 1 trauma centers and students from all over the world. 70 clinical rotations, 24 clinic hours per week.

 

9. Arizona Academy of Emergency Services

Arizona Academy of Emergency Services

Photo taken from Arizona Academy of Emergency Services.

The Paramedic Program at Arizona Academy of Emergency Services prepares students to be excellent healthcare providers and leaders in the field. Students receive extensive training in Airway Management, Cardiology, Pharmacology, Medical and Trauma Emergencies, Pediatric Emergencies, and much more.

Location:

Mesa, AZ.

Cost/Tuition:

$6,000.

Financial Aid:

Financing and financial aid is available to qualified students.

Length of Program:

13 months.

Format:

Classroom lecture, labs, clinical rotations, and field practicums.

Quality of Instruction:

89% NREMT pass rate.

Graduate Satisfaction:

70% retention.

Student Services:

N/A

College Credit:

No.

Prerequisites:

N/A

Other:

This program offers experiential and expansive education featuring vehicular shifts and time in the burn unit, trauma room, pediatric, labor & delivery, and more

 

10. Boston Pro EMS Center for Medics

Boston Pro EMS Center for Medics

Photo taken from Pro EMS Center for Medics.

The Pro EMS Center for Medics has the following goals: to develop a pool of clinically sophisticated and competent paramedics who are able and motivated to raise the bar at their respective services, and to ensure competency in cognitive, psychomotor, and affective learning domains. With an emphasis on high-fidelity human patient simulation and retrospective case debriefing, paramedic students attain clinical and procedural familiarization before going into clinical and field rotations and treating live patients.

Location:

Cambridge, MA.

Cost/Tuition:

$13,995.

Financial Aid:

Financing and financial aid is available to qualified students.

Length of Program:

11.5 months.

Format:

Classroom lecture, labs, clinical rotations, and field practicums.

Quality of Instruction:

91% NREMT pass rate.

Graduate Satisfaction:

86% retention.

Student Services:

92% job placement.

College Credit:

No

Prerequisites:

EMT certification.

Other:

The Pro EMS Center for Medics is the first EMS educational facility in Massachusetts to be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

 

11. Amarillo College

Amarillo College

Amarillo’s paramedic certificate program is designed for students who wish to earn a Certificate of Completion in addition to completing the academic, clinical, and field internship requirements for certification through the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) as a Paramedic. Successful completion also meets eligibility requirements for the NREMT paramedic examination process.

Location:

Amarillo, TX.

Cost/Tuition:

$1,008 (in-state), $2,472 (out-of-state),

Financial Aid:

Financing and financial aid is available to qualified students.

Length of Program:

36 months.

Format:

Classroom lecture, labs, clinical rotations, and field practicums.

Quality of Instruction:

90% NREMT pass rate.

Graduate Satisfaction:

80% retention.

Student Services:

100% job placement

College Credit:

Yes.

Prerequisites:

N/A

Other:

Amarillo College’s Paramedic Program is the only such program in the Texas Panhandle to hold accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

 

12. Pima Community College

Pima Community College

Graduates of the Pima Community College EMT-Paramedic Associate of Applied Science learn how to assess medical situations, provide high-level emergency medical care, and stabilize emergency patients. They also learn endotracheal intubation, cardiac arrhythmia intervention, drug therapy, invasive procedures, advanced airway management, and I.V. therapy.

Location:

Tucson, AZ.

Cost/Tuition:

$5,945.

Financial Aid:

Financing and financial aid is available to qualified students.

Length of Program:

24 months.

Format:

Hybrid-online and on-campus program.

Quality of Instruction:

100% NREMT pass rate.

Graduate Satisfaction:

81% retention.

Student Services:

N/A

College Credit:

Yes.

Prerequisites:

American Heart Association Basic Life Support for the Healthcare Provider certification, EMT certification.

Other:

In addition to classroom time, the student must complete at least 604 hours of clinical and vehicular rotations. The student is required to schedule these hours outside of class time throughout the paramedic course.

 

13. Phoenix College

Phoenix College

Photo taken from AZ Big Media.

The Phoenix College Associate in Applied Sciences (AAS) in Paramedicine is a nationally accredited program designed to prepare students to become Paramedics. This program is a formal education in such paramedicine topics as anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, cardiology, pulmonary, pharmacology, pediatrics, geriatrics hematology, and toxicology.

Location:

Phoenix, AZ.

Cost/Tuition:

$7,184.

Financial Aid:

Financing and financial aid is available to qualified students.

Length of Program:

2.5 years.

Format:

Classroom lecture, labs, clinical rotations, and field practicums.

Quality of Instruction:

N/A

Graduate Satisfaction:

100% retention.

Student Services:

N/A

College Credit:

Yes.

Prerequisites:

EMT certification.

Other:

Phoenix College is a public community college in Phoenix, Arizona. Founded in 1920, it is one of the oldest community colleges in the country.

Paramedic Is More Than a Job

While the requirements to be a paramedic are arduous and job environment stressful and challenging, most paramedics find the work extremely rewarding. Being a paramedic requires a dedication to patient care that makes the job both a career and a calling. Paramedic service isn’t for everyone, but for a select number of individuals who want to make a difference, it’s the job of a lifetime.

About Unitek EMT

Unitek EMT is one of the top EMT training providers in the United States. Our mission is simple: training the next wave of EMT professionals. We offer a variety of training options to fit your needs. Unitek EMT instructors are experienced leaders in their fields, and our ultra-real-world training scenarios are ideal for both new and seasoned students, with training the covers all major aspects of emergency medical services.

2 replies
  1. Jeffrey Halpern
    Jeffrey Halpern says:

    I am searching for a Paramedic re-cert course, I live in south Fl. and am a retired Paramedic Lt. From FDNY.
    I do have travel restriction due to Injuries from WTC Please let me know of any programs out there with limited Travel

    Reply

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