Every now and then, I do think about whether or not I should switch industries. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not dying to get out of the medical device field. But I guess this could be somewhat of a third-life criss maybe...?
Problem is, the line of work I am most interested in doing is emergency first responder stuff. However, they're not known exactly to pay very much... and that includes in the expensive Bay Area.
I remember asking Matthew why EMTs don't get much $$$. He succinctly said, "You don't need to have a college degree."
Which I guess makes sense. The higher the pay, usually that equates to more education. And when I was taking my EMT class, there was a guy in my group who graduated high school, but hadn't gone to college yet.
But still, when I tell people who aren't familiar with the world of EMS (Emergency Medical Systems) that I wouldn't be surprised if green, inexperienced EMTs get paid just $10/hr or so, they're shocked.
"But EMTs save lives!"
And they do, I'm not saying they don't. But I've read articles online from experienced EMTs themselves who say that they don't deserve to get more $$. One person basically said: "You want higher pay? Get more education."
That's why paramedics -- the next level above EMTs, who are basically the bottom rung of the ladder -- get more $$ b/c they have to have more training. How much more $$ they get, depends on your experience and where you work. Docs have to go for years in med school. Paramedics, about 18 months to my knowledge. EMTs... 6-12 months, depending on where your classes are.
Last year, I felt like I was getting fed up with my current job. Peg asked me if I had any debt or family to take care of. Because if not, then I'm in a better position to take a pay cut (albeit a really big one) than most people out there....
And when I was speaking to Joe about being a volunteer emergency first responder, he made me realize something about myself: "I think you're the type of guy who enjoys being on the front lines."
That got my attention.
First responders are indeed out there on "the front lines"... that's why they're called FIRST responders. True, we don't perform complex surgeries out "in the field" and hospitals themselves can be quite chaotic. But "out there", it's a different kind of chaos. The environment is less controlled, there are potentially more dangers, equipment and manpower are more limited (especially the equipment), etc. If you are effective "out there", then I think that says something about you.
But alas, those on the "front lines" don't get that much pay. It reminds me of those fighting as infantry in the US Army and in the Marines. They're doing the most dangerous work in the US military, but generally speaking, a lot of them don't have degrees and are the lower ranks. That means they don't get paid very much (albeit they're free of taxes), despite the fact their jobs are very high risk.
So yes, every now and then, I do wonder about having a full-time profession in the world of emergency medicine (or "dirt medicine", as some have called it. Hey, it has a nice ring to it.) Kim has brought this up every now and then.
The main thing that's holding me back -- and I know this makes me sound greedy -- is the low pay, at least compared to my current job.
I was speaking with a paramedic-trained first responder a few years ago on a ride-a-long. I told her I'm not an EMT, but I volunteer as a medic for the Red Cross. She asked me how much I made for my regular job in the medical device industry. When I told her how much, she said to me: "Keep volunteering."