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Can a Felon Become a Paramedic?

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When it comes to finding a job after their release from prison, felons find it challenging.  Jobs they once had are lost and careers may be gone.

Felons may think no one will hire them, but there are resources available.

They will have to be creative and willing to learn a new trade or start a different career.

This is the opportunity for felons to begin a new profession.

This blog post will address the issue of whether a felon can become a paramedic.

  • What is a Paramedic?
  • What Education/Training Does a Paramedic Need?
  • How Much Does a Paramedic Earn?
  • An Opportunity for Felons?
  • Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Paramedic


What is a Paramedic?

A paramedic provides immediate medical care to patients that have been involved in accidents, emergencies, and other crises.

A paramedic is an advanced provider of emergency medical care that is highly educated in anatomy, physiology, medications, and medical procedures.

A paramedic:

  • Drives an ambulance or other emergency vehicle
  • Responds to 911 calls
  • Assesses patients and administers medication
  • Treats and dresses wounds
  • Transports patients to a hospital
  • Provides hospital staff with essential patient information such as condition and treatment

There are particular skills that a successful paramedic must have:

  • Caring and empathetic
  • Ability to make quick decisions while remaining calm
  • Good physical fitness for transferring patients
  • Good navigational skills
  • Resilience
  • Stamina
  • Educated in medical techniques
  • Ability to be flexible and adapt to changing situations
  • Good coordination
  • Leadership
  • Advanced knowledge of injury care and emergency techniques

What Education/Training Does a Paramedic Need?

In order to become a paramedic, an individual must either begin by working as a student paramedic with an ambulance service or take an approved paramedic course.

An applicant must be at least 18 years old with a high school diploma or GED and usually a clean driving record.

There are several levels of training to become a paramedic.

The first level is an EMT-Basic.  A student is trained in the basics of patient care, injury, illness, diagnosis,   and initial treatment.

The second level is an EMT-Intermediate.  To reach this stage, an EMT-Basic will take a combination of intermediate training and passing an exam.

An EMT-Intermediate has knowledge of basic airway management and can administer medications such as saline, epinephrine, and nitrous oxide.

The highest level of EMT is the EMT-Paramedic or simply paramedic.  This level is accomplished through extensive training, which can take 18-24 months.

A paramedic has the duties of the previous stages plus also being able to assist in childbirth, treat spinal fractures and administer medication such as pain medication, sedatives, anti-psychotics, and cardiac medication.

How Much Does a Paramedic Earn?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that there are approximately 241,000 paramedics and EMTs in the U.S.  This occupation is expected to show a 21% growth by 2024.

The average salary of a paramedic in 2015 was $54,600.

Experience will make a difference in how much a paramedic earns annually.

The area of the country in which a paramedic works also makes a difference in their earnings.  Those on the East or West coast typically earn more than a paramedic that works elsewhere.

An Opportunity for Felons?

While state laws regarding who is eligible to become a paramedic, certain crimes are disallowed.

The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) has a Criminal Conviction Policy in place to safeguard against individuals thought to “pose a danger to the public.”

The reason is that any EMT professional, including a paramedic has “unsupervised, intimate, physical, and emotional contact with patients at a time of maximum physical and emotional vulnerability”, as well as access to personal property of a patient.

This classifies a paramedic as an individual in a position of the highest public trust.

The Criminal Conviction Policy contains the following provisions:

  • Anyone convicted of a felony involving physical assault, use of a dangerous weapon, sexual abuse or assault, abuse of children, the elderly, or the infirm, and crimes against property, including robbery, burglary, and felony theft may be denied eligibility to take the certification exam.
  • Applicants must reveal all convictions.
  • Any plea of guilty, plea agreement, or no contest as well as a conviction is ineligible.
  • A crime that has been expunged does not have to be disclosed.
  • Failure to report a criminal conviction will result in denial to take the certification exam.

An applicant may be denied the right to take the licensing exam if the NREMT rules an individual to be risk to public health and safety based on:

  • Seriousness of the crime
  • Whether the crime relates to performance of duties as a paramedic
  • How much time has passed since the crime was committed
  • Whether the crime involved violence or abuse
  • Whether the applicant’s actions and conduct since the conviction are consistent with holding a position of public trust
  • Whether the applicant is a repeat offender
  • Whether the applicant has complied with all court orders and probation

Any felon who has been denied eligibility based on these criteria may appeal the NREMT decision.

Whether a felon can find work as a paramedic after licensing depends on whether the offense was “substantially related” to work as a paramedic.

Many ambulance services and hospitals require that anyone applying for a job as a paramedic have no felony arrests or convictions.  Some cities do not take this position and will not deny a felon with a paramedic license to be employed.

In the case of felony burglary, whether it is related to work of a paramedic includes whether the crime involved violence or threat of harm, and whether the crime relates to vulnerable patients.

Typically, a felon can become a paramedic if at least 10 years have passed since their release from incarceration.

For anyone considering not being honest about their felony, it is a crime to falsify an application, which could result in being sent back to prison.

In order to be successful in this pursuit, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. Lying about their conviction will prevent them from becoming a paramedic.

They are already working with the often negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.

There are many success stories, as the Guide to Being Employed, reveals, showing how having a goal, commitment, dedication, and perseverance can assist felons in achieving their dream.

There are re-entry programs, such as drug treatment, and educational opportunities.

Having their felony expunged can give them the chance they need to begin with a clean record and succeed in becoming a paramedic.

Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that they have not been convicted of a crime.

Supporting a Felon in Becoming a Paramedic

For families of felons wanting to pursue a dream of becoming a paramedic, encourage your loved one and support their efforts to live an honest life, change their lifestyle, and keep their dreams alive.

Encourage them to find out if they qualify to have their record expunged.  Having their record expunged will qualify a felon to be able to take the paramedic licensing exam.

Your family member is worth making the effort for, if they are sincere in their desire to become a paramedic.

Help them realize their ambition no matter how difficult the road might be.

What do you think about this blog post?  Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to become a paramedic with a felony?  What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success?  Please tell us in the comments below.

3 thoughts on “Can a Felon Become a Paramedic?”

  1. I desperately want to help people and if I become an EMT-Paramedic I would be able to do just that. This article gives me a lot of hope.


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