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Average Salary: $31,020

Expected Lifetime Earnings: $1,295,000

If you are looking for a way to pay for that Lamborghini you've always wanted, this is probably not your job. The average wage for an EMT is about $15 an hour, or roughly $35K a year. The hourly wage can extend from less than $10 to more than $25 with an annual wage from less than $20k to more than $55k. Imagine getting less than $10 to save someone's life? Try telling a patient that her life is only worth the price of a cheap dinner.

The top paying states are The District of Columbia (okay, we know it's not really a state, but in this case it gets a pass), Hawaii, Washington, Illinois, and Maryland. Fringe benefits exist. Can you see yourself rescuing a bikini babe or surfer stud in Hawaii? Vacation and sick time, health and life insurance, equipment and tuition reimbursement are generally more liberal if you work for a public sector employer. They might not exist at all when working for a private company.

A public sector employer such as a state, county, municipality, or hospital district will generally pay more and have better benefits than a for-profit employer. Don't worry. You can get over your friends calling you a government blood sucker, although taking blood samples is part of the job. Intermediate level and paramedic EMT jobs will generally pay better than Basics; however, you will need to acquire considerably more training. At the basic level, you will likely need a high school diploma, a driver’s license, CPR certification, and about 100 hours of training. Intermediates generally must complete 1,000 hours of training and paramedics require about 1,300 hours. Even at the basic level, some hospital in-service time is usually required. After all, the hospital staff needs someone to yell at.

What? You say you want to do this job out of the generosity of your heart instead of saving for the Lamborghini? If you are in a volunteer EMT service, the training is the same, but forget about the pay. However, the employer (yes, you are still considered an employee) will often pay for everything else, such as training, uniforms, equipment, and maybe mileage. What the employer does not supply, you may be able to deduct as volunteer expenses at tax time, assuming that you are not a tax dodger. You also get paid in non-tangible ways such as experience, skill acquisition, network contacts, self-esteem, and community gratitude. Most communities go out of their way to recognize volunteers in some way such as freebies, awards, dinners, discounts, not to mention a possible exemption from jury duty.

Guilty! Can I go home now?