Three Fast-Paced, Growing Careers in Emergency Services

A group of EMS responders in orange suits.

Since the first 911 call was placed in 1968, the number has become synonymous with help in times of emergencies. The vast majority of Americans are covered by 911 services, with about 240 million 911 calls made in the U.S. every year. The public safety telecommunicators, or 911 operators, who answer these calls may assist callers by providing first aid instruction over the phone and dispatching the appropriate resources to the caller. People depend on the emergency medical technicians and paramedics who respond to these calls – often saving lives in times of medical emergencies – as well as the ambulance drivers who transport patients to healthcare facilities.  

Looking for a fast-paced career helping others? Check out these jobs in emergency medical services, which typically need less than a bachelor’s degree for entry and are projected to grow about as fast as or faster than the average for the total economy.


Emergency medical technicians and paramedics 

EMTs and paramedics respond to emergency calls, performing medical services and transporting patients to medical facilities. EMTs assess a patient’s condition, provide first-aid treatment or life support care to patients, and help transport patients to hospitals where they relay their observations about the patient’s condition and any treatments provided by physicians, nurses, and other healthcare staff. Paramedics can do the tasks EMTs do but they also can provide more extensive prehospital care, such as giving medications orally and intravenously, interpreting electrocardiograms, which monitor heart function, and administering advanced life support to sick or injured individuals.

2021 median pay: $36,930

Typical entry-level education: Postsecondary nondegree award

Number of jobs, 2020: 261,300

Projected growth, 2020–2030: 11.0% (faster than average)

Occupational openings, 2020–2030 annual average: 20,700


Public safety telecommunicators

Public safety telecommunicators answer emergencies calls and determine the type of emergency response that is needed. They relay information to the appropriate first responder agency and dispatch those services to the caller’s location. They may also give instructions to the caller over the phone, for example, helping a caller to administer first aid service before first responders arrive.

2021 median pay: $46,670

Typical entry-level education: High school diploma or equivalent

Number of jobs, 2020: 95,400

Projected growth, 2020-2030: 8.2% (as fast as the average)

Occupational openings, 2020-2030 annual average: 9,800


Ambulance drivers and attendants

Ambulance drivers and attendants (not including EMTs) drive an ambulance or assist the ambulance driver in transporting sick or injured people. They may lift patients during transport.

2021 median pay: $29,120

Typical entry-level education: High school diploma or equivalent

Number of jobs, 2020: 14,200

Projected growth, 2020-2030: 16.3% (much faster than average)

Occupational openings, 2020-2030 annual average: 1,900


Emily Rolen is an economist for the department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.