Annual income for an EMT ranges from $25,417 to $32,834 ($34,874 in the Seattle area). Wages are lower at general medical and surgical hospitals ($23,250) and on ambulance crews ($20,350), and highest with fire departments. Hourly wages range from $11.28 to $16.03/hour (entry-level to 20 years experience).
30 percent of EMTs work for fire departments and local governments (50 hours/week), 20 percent for hospitals (45-60 hours/week), and 40 percent for private ambulance services (45-50 hours/week). An EMT works irregular hours, because emergency medical services function 24 hours/day, and may be on call for extended periods. The work is both indoor and outdoor in all weather, largely in metropolitan areas, and is both physically strenuous and stressful. EMTs face constant life and death situations, with possible exposure to disease and challenging interaction with mentally unstable patients.
Employment growth is projected at 15 percent between 2012 and 2022 in Washington (and 23 percent nationally), both faster than average, as paid positions replace unpaid volunteers and as the aging population has more need for emergency services. Best opportunities are in cities and private ambulance services, with more competition but better benefits in local government positions (fire, police, independent rescue squads).