The Real Reason Why EMTs Make So Little

As an EMT, the salary doesn’t reflect the valuable, life-saving work performed. EMTs should be compensated more, but aren’t. So, why do EMTs make so little?

You can demand more from your career and still help save lives. Here’s what to know and how to plan a financially healthy EMT career.

EMS Salary Expectations

The national average salary for an EMT-B is $32,243 per year.

Compared to that, the average salary of an EMT-B working in Chicago was $18.31 an hour, which is about $36,740 a year, according to Indeed.

However, other EMS roles bring in different salaries. ZipRecruiter shows the average annual salary of a Chicago-based EMR at $39,011. And estimates the average paramedic salary is $49,122 in Chicago, with a typical pay range falling between $44,197 and $55,133.

Fortunately, there’s potential to earn as much as $51,480 for EMTs and $68,640 for paramedics.

Why Do EMTs Make So Little?

EMTs may earn less due to five common reasons.

Missing Certifications

Education is critical in earning a higher salary in EMS. EMTs in Illinois have four levels of certification that directly impact their salary:

  • EMR 
  • EMT-Basic 
  • EMT-Paramedic 
  • Critical Care EMT-P

EMTs may make so little money due to their credentials. If you want to earn more, it’s necessary to secure additional certifications. Working with private, reputable ambulance companies could also help raise your EMT salary.

No Need for Higher Education

Despite the vital services EMTs offer, required courses are relatively short and fast-paced. Most EMTs will spend 120 to 150 hours to complete their certification. They also only need a high school education to get started.

Low Demand

Urban areas usually have plenty of EMTs and EMS workers, lowering the demand and pay. Building a career with the right company is imperative to earning healthy wages.

Public vs. Private EMTs

Local governments are among the largest employers of EMTs. While jobs are plentiful, the pay is usually low due to budget restraints and cuts.

Instead of relying on government jobs, many EMTs work part-time or choose to work with private ambulance companies to increase their wages. The high workload and volume of EMTs in the workforce make it essential to find the right program and company to work for.

How Much Do EMTs Make at Elite Ambulance 

Here at Elite Ambulance, we value our workers and believe in paying higher than the standard EMT wages in Chicago.

Our EMT salaries are $51,480* annually before taxes based on the industry-standard 50-hour work week. We strive to compensate our emergency technicians fairly and reward their hard work.

In comparison, our paramedics make $68,640* per year. And EMRs earn $42,000* per year.

Join Elite Ambulance

Join Elite Ambulance in Chicago

If You’re Just Starting Out

In addition to running our Chicago-based emergency and non-emergency medical transportation services,  we also offer comprehensive EMR, EMT, and paramedic courses.

Unlike other companies, we have a 100% guaranteed job placement at Elite Ambulance with diligent training. Our education is thorough, fast-paced, and empowering.

Sign up for one of our EMS courses and start building your career in healthcare!

If You’re Already Certified

And if you’re already certified but want higher pay, apply online to become part of the Elite Ambulance family

Elite Ambulance is the best place to grow your career.

If you have any questions about our courses, roles, or salaries, feel free to reach out to us! We welcome anyone interested in EMS.


*Figures based on 50-hour workweeks, before Illinois average income tax.

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