There actually is a significant difference between being an EMT and a paramedic. All paramedics are EMTs, but not all EMTs are paramedics. To clarify, there are two most common certifications for Emergency Medical Technicians: Basic and Paramedic. The Basic course as you might guess is more introductory, and a paramedic is more advanced.
Becoming an EMT requires a steadfast commitment to excellence. It is not a profession to be entered in to lightly. As you are probably aware, paramedics are often first on the scene of an injury and required to be the liaison between field trauma care and hospital treatment. Often, emergency medical services are called when time is of the essence, and as a result, proper training is even more vital in this field than other medical professions. Time can be the difference between life and death.
There are a number of different levels of paramedic training, also known by some as EMTs. The most basic procedures are taught at the beginning of the coursework and include airway, breathing, circulation, and basic patient assessment skills. Higher levels of paramedics go on to learn some procedures, such as ET intubation, ECG monitoring and reading, and drug administration.
The most common way to become a paramedic is through junior college (or community) course work. There are also programs associated with four year institutions. Because of the wide range of different training programs, recently there has been a concerted effort to normalize instruction and accreditation. This has come about through a combined effort of the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians along with the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (yes, they are two separate institutions). However, this effort is still ongoing at the present time, and no consensus has yet been made.
Generally, it is established that the best use of the term Paramedic is for an EMT-P (Paramedic). In most instances, EMT training begins with basic, proceeds to intermediate, and then continues to the paramedic level. As emergency first responders, many times a more junior medical emergency worked will be paired with a senior member to provide the most effective means of both treatment and experience.