Emergency medical technicians and licensed practical nurses both work in the medical field, but aside from that their jobs are quite different. While LPNs tend to day-to-day medical care, EMTs respond to emergency situations on a regular basis. Aside from the work, these professions also vary in training, pay and job growth.
LPNs typically provide routine care to patients in hospitals, nursing homes and other medical environments. They may monitor patients' health and provide basic care like changing bandages or helping patients get dressed. EMTs, in contrast, typically provide medical care in emergency situations. EMTs may provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation or other life-saving care to revive and stabilize patients. They may also help transfer patients to hospitals where other medical professionals can provide additional care.
LPNs must complete an accredited one-year certificate program in practical nursing. EMTs must complete their certification from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians. They must complete 100 hours of formal courses to get EMT-Basic certification. Advanced EMTs require 1,000 hours of training. This level is known variously as EMT-Intermediate 1985, EMT-Intermediate 1999 or Advanced EMT. EMTs can also move on to become paramedics with 1,300 hours of training, typically over a two-year period.
Both LPNs and EMTs must be licensed to work in their respective professions. All states require that LPNs pass the National Council Licensure Examination after gaining a certificate in practical nursing to get a license. All states require EMTs to be licensed, but the requirements vary by state. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in most states National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians certification qualifies a candidate for licensing, but in some states, you may be required to take an equivalent exam.
As of 2010, the median annual salary for EMTs and paramedics was $30,360. As of the same point in time, LPNs earned significantly better pay, with a median annual wage of $40,380. The lowest 10 percent of EMTs and paramedics earned less than $19,710, while the cutoff for the lowest 10 percent of LPNs was $29,680. The highest 10 percent of EMTs were well-paid as of 2010, earning more than $51,370, but so were the top LPN earners, who made more than $56,010.
As of 2010, there were 226,500 EMTs and paramedics in the United States. This number is expected to jump by 33 percent to over 300,000 positions by 2020. LPNs can expect a 26 percent growth in jobs between 2010 and 2020. While this is a lower rate than EMTs can expect, in absolute numbers there will be an expected 168,500 new LPN jobs compared to 75,400 new jobs for EMTs and paramedics.
M. Scilly is a writer and editor who writes for various online publications, specializing in business and management. He has a fondness for travel and photography. In his free time he enjoys marathon training.