Sunday, August 12


As we all know, one of the most important aspects of any job or career is compensation. On average, in the US, a paramedic makes 36,970 $ Per year according to Some may say that is good money and others may look at it and laugh. More than likely you will begin laughing pretty soon.

The average paramedic also works 24 hour shifts every third day. That equals out to 10 shifts per month. Before you say, "you only work 10 days a month" here me out. It's not all roses, actually there are no roses involved at all. On average that is 52 hours per week. In actuality every third week will be a 48 hour week and the rest are 72. The bread and butter in this profession is overtime, as you can see. The first forty hours are compensated at a very dismal hourly rate that is as low as 9$ per hour and only after the second shift in a week does the pay increase by one half. This makes it imperative to work every shift because any vacation time that is received completely negates the necessary overtime pay and decreases take home pay dramatically. This can quickly lead to milk and bread shortages (and maybe even beer).

Of course they are other ways that paramedics are paid. One of my favorite is something I dub Chinese Overtime. This method is based on a salary type pay scale but has some really nasty consequences. The pay is set at a yearly amount with the thought that the paramedic will work every shift without time off. If there is unscheduled overtime the base rate is divided in half and the paramedic receives comp time. This is basically a nice way of screwing people while they are asleep and unsuspecting. Overall, the more hours that are worked the less the medic makes per hour until they are no longer increasing their take home pay. The other nasty part is the fact that the comp time that is received is compensated at the base rate so you lose the overtime and are basically working 72 hours a week at the dismal base rate mentioned above.

One more pay method and I will stop. This method is used more with firefighters luckily and not paramedics but it sucks nonetheless. In short, the 24 hour shift is broken into a 16 hour block and an 8 hour block. You are paid for the 16 hours of "Awake" time but are not compensated for the 8 hours of "Sleep" time after midnight. Basically, you are asked to sleep in a foreign bed and remain ready to run an emergency call at any time with the expectation that you will be awake and in the ambulance rolling out of the station within one minute WITHOUT being compensates. Ugly, I know.

So that is how and how much a paramedic is paid. Tune in next week to see what they are paid to do.

Wikipedia's definition of paramedic: a medical professional, usually a member of the emergency medical service, who responds to medical and trauma emergencies in the pre-hospital
environment, provides emergency treatment and, when appropriate,
transports a patient to definitive care, such as a hospital, for
further assessment or follow-up care.

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1 comment:

Adoro te Devote said...

Wow. I knew y'all got screwed financially, but I didn't realize it was that bad. Perhaps it changes by state, but not really enough to make it worth it.

I considered being a PM, but got over it early on. Pay was actually not part of my decision. And I have a good friend who went from rural to metro PM...and got out. She loved the work...hated the politics. (I suspect that had she remained rural, where the pay was bad, she still would have lasted longer because the politics weren't so nasty)

I just left a good-paying job that sucked, we didn't have to work 24 or 48 hour shifts, but that's the amoutn of work they wanted out of us in a 9 hour day. I said goodbye and that $46k/year or so wasn't worth it.

I would have said the same thing to being a PM at $36k/year.

And yeah, the asleep/awake stuff sucks.