Why Earn Your EMS Degree

This article contains information about why you may want to earn a degree in emergency medical services or EMS. We will describe what an EMS degree is, and why it could be beneficial for you to earn one. We also will describe the different things that you can do with this degree, and also will provide accreditation information.

What Is an EMS Degree?

An EMS degree is a four year bachelor’s degree that is designed largely for currently licensed paramedics, which is the highest level of emergency medical technician or EMT. It provides the paramedic with an education and academic preparation suitable for a career as a supervisor, administrator or executive in the emergency medicine sector.

EMS degrees are therefore generally for highly experienced EMTs and paramedics who wish to work in management in this field.

Degree programs such as a bachelor’s degree in EMS are relatively recent additions to the healthcare education field. This bachelor’s degree will train you to assume senior EMS positions, thus it is required for you to be a very experienced EMT or paramedic to quality for this program.

Because the subject matter is advanced, most programs require you to be licensed as a paramedic. This means that you will have already gone through all of your previous EMT and paramedic training in the past and worked for several years in the field.

Below are the different types of EMT, which you will need to achieve before you can apply for a four year EMS degree.

  • EMT Basic (EMT B): This type of EMT is entry level and has less training than other types – approximately 110 hours. EMT B’s can carry out most basic life support procedures, but he is limited to doing only non-invasive procedures. The EMT B can do CPR, automated external defibrillation, bone splinting and suction fluids to help higher level EMTs.
  • EMT Intermediate (EMT I): EMT I’s have 200-400 hours of EMT training. The exact duties can vary by state, but they have more responsibilities than basic EMTs. They may or may not be allowed to give non-prescribed drugs, depending upon the state. EMT I’s have more robust assessment skills and can do IV treatments and endotracheal intubations.
  • EMT-Paramedic (EMT P): EMT P’s have at least two years of training and have higher level responsibilities than the other EMTs. They also can administer drugs by IV and by mouth; read lab results such as X-rays and EKGs; clean wounds, and do manual defibrillation.

After you have certified as a paramedic and gained experience in that position, then you may be able to be admitted into an EMS degree program.

A typical degree in EMS covers topics including leadership principles, medical assessment and pharmacology. It also will feature a number of liberal arts and humanities electives that stress the ability to communicate clearly in English. Other common subjects in this degree program are:

  • EMS communications
  • Emergency medical assessment
  • Disaster preparedness
  • EMS ethical issues
  • Public health emergencies

Why Earn an EMS Degree?

Many EMTs feel a strong need to help other people, and that is the biggest reason they enter this field.

There is a great increase in need for all types of healthcare services today. The American population is growing older on average and living longer. These facts are causing more need for doctors, nurses, nurse practitioners, and EMTs and paramedics.

The growth in the middle aged and older populations is leading to much higher need for emergency medical services. Older people have more health problems, such as stroke and heart attack.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics data for EMTs concurs with these happenings, as it anticipates that there will be a 24% surge in demand for EMTs in the next decade. Even though the number of car crashes and other acts of violence may be diminishing in some areas, there still will be need for EMTs for these emergency situations.

The median salary for EMTs and paramedics is $32,670, with the top 10% earning more than $56,000 per year.

Experienced EMTs and paramedics may decide eventually to increase their salary potential to earn their EMS degree so they can work in management. One possibility for the experienced EMT with an EMS degree is to become an emergency management director.

An emergency management director readies plans and procedures to respond to various emergencies, including terrorism and natural disasters. This field is going to increase in demand by 6% by 2024, as more local governments will be putting more emphasis on being prepared for natural and human made disasters. This can help to reduce the risk of being unprepared for the unexpected.

The salary for an emergency management director is $70,500 as of 2016, and the top 10% earn more than $130,000 per year.

Emergency management directors need to have a bachelor’s degree and years of experience in the field, so this is a very natural fit for the experienced EMT with an EMS degree.

Online Degree Options

A good online option in this field is the Bachelor of Science in Emergency Medical Services at Creighton University. This is a four year program that combines a liberal arts education with a thorough paramedic instruction program.

You will participate in traditional classwork in the EMS field and will also have a full year of clinical intensives and direct patient care. In these, you will work with fire departments and ambulance services in your area, so that you can complete your clinical shifts in nearby hospitals.

Your hands-on paramedic training will prepare you to either go into management and administration, or to go on to future post-baccalaureate study. Some graduates of this program may eventually earn a master’s degree in public administration or even a medical degree. That is why the program offers a clinical track, pre-nursing track and a pre-med track.

You will focus on these areas in this program:

  • EMS techniques and tools
  • Direct patient care
  • Current skills and advances in EMS
  • Fast decision making skills
  • Critical thinking skills

Required courses include:

  • Fundamentals of EMS
  • Human Biology
  • Introduction to Sociology and Psychology
  • Basic Anatomy
  • Patient Assessment
  • Airway, Ventilation and Respiratory Emergencies
  • Cardiology
  • Clinical Practicum
  • Medical Emergencies I and II
  • Special Patient Populations
  • Assessment Based Management
  • Operations


The matter of accreditation of your EMS degree program is very important. You want to be sure that you are learning everything you need to know to succeed in EMS and in management in this field. Accreditation will assure you that your program is of the highest quality.

In the EMS profession, it is recommended that the program be accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or CAAHEP. Creighton University has been accredited by the CAAHEP.


The EMS profession is growing quickly, and there is more need today for skilled managers, executives and administrators in emergency management. So earning your EMS degree is good move to improve your career prospects.


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Written by Robert Sanchez
Robert Sanchez is HealthGrad.com's Chief Editorialist. Robert Sanchez has over 10 years experience in the Healthcare field and more recently has become an avid writer advising on career and job topics in this exciting field.

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