How to Become a Paramedic


A paramedic is a healthcare professional who works in an ambulance to administer emergency and non-emergency care. The duties of a paramedic range from initial aid with injuries, to giving people treatment that could save their life.

A paramedic is in charge of a small team of ambulance crew. They will attend emergencies and administer treatment to help the patient until they arrive at the hospital. A paramedic will direct anyone else working in the ambulance on the best course of treatment.

A paramedic may drive the ambulance themselves, or they may have an ambulance driver. In some locations, a paramedic may work independently and use a motorbike or car to reach the emergency site to administer urgent treatment.

The duties of being a paramedic include: 

  • Attending call-outs from people who have requested emergency medical aid. 
  • Working with an ambulance driver and an emergency care assistant or technician.
  • Deciding what emergency treatment is appropriate in the situation. 
  • Communicating with the patient to obtain consent for the treatment – this is not possible in every situation.
  • Administering the treatment. 
  • Lifting and safely moving the patient so they can be transported to hospital.
  • Using equipment such as defibrillators, intravenous drips, and oxygen tanks to give the patient whatever support they need. 
  • Communicating with the patient’s friends or relatives, who may be upset, stressed, or even potentially aggressive. They will likely want to know what has happened and the severity of the situation. 
  • Briefing doctors and nurses as the patient arrives at the hospital.
  • Working with other emergency services personnel to negotiate patient care. 

Most paramedics have a paramedic science degree. This course will be approved by the health and care professions council of their country. Alternatively, candidates could consider a paramedic degree apprenticeship, where they work while training.

Vocational entry to the profession is also an option; candidates would work as an ambulance care assistant to gain relevant experience, and then apply for a paramedic training scheme. 

As entry to paramedic courses can be competitive, candidates would benefit from obtaining relevant knowledge and experience. There are opportunities for voluntary roles in the field, such as working with voluntary ambulances. Candidates could also gain a first aid certificate or work in an ambulance-based office job. Taking relevant extra courses would also strengthen an application. 

There are a few essential skills of which anyone becoming a paramedic should be aware. They should have a broad understanding of medicine and be able to think quickly to administer the right treatment. Managerial skills are essential, as they will likely be overseeing a small team of people in the ambulance. 

Candidates should also be able to remain calm in stressful situations and have the ability to clearly tell the patient’s friends and family details about the illness or injury. A high level of sensitivity is undoubtedly needed, as many family members will be upset and confused about what is happening. 

This is a high-pressure role, and candidates must be acutely aware of what they will have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. They will experience situations of high distress, including people who will have life-threatening conditions or injuries, and may need to pronounce death on the scene occasionally.

Sometimes, paramedics are unfortunately victim to abusive patients or patients’ family or friends, particularly if they have been drinking. Paramedics will receive full training on how to handle patients and others who are under the influence. 

Despite its hardships, many people report working as a paramedic to be an intensely rewarding role. As a paramedic is the first person to arrive on an emergency scene, their help has the potential to save a person’s life. 

As the emergency services operate 24 hours a day, most paramedics are expected to do shift work. They could also be working on-call in especially busy times and may be required to work at stations that are far away from their own. 

Paramedics need to pass a check to allow them to work with vulnerable people, and they will also be required to have a full driving licence.

During their career, paramedics generally progress to be a senior paramedic and eventually a critical care paramedic. In this role, they can administer more treatment on the scene. They may also go into other medical professions such as a nurse or administrative position.

What degree is most commonly held by a Paramedic ?

  • Bachelor of Medicine
  • Bachelor of Paramedic Science

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: Low
Because every country’s healthcare system is different, becoming a paramedic in a candidate’s non-native country is rare. Complete re-training would be necessary, and they would need to acquire another visa and the right to work without help from an employer.

What is the Salary of a Paramedic ?

Experience Average salary | year
Paramedic 1-3 yrs $45,000 £34,000 $41,375
Paramedic 3-5 yrs $56,000 £38,000 $55,069
Senior Paramedic 5-10 yrs $68,000 £45,000 $63,446

What skills are needed to become a Paramedic ?

  • Paramedic
  • Healthcare
  • Emergency Services
  • Emergency Medicine
  • CPR Certified
  • Emergency Management
  • Ambulance
  • First Aid
  • ACLS
  • BLS
  • Training
  • Hospitals
  • Leadership
  • Disaster Response
  • EMS
  • Medicine
  • Healthcare Management
  • Emergency Medical
  • Rescue
  • Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
  • Critical Care
  • PALS
  • Emergency Medical Services (EMS)
  • Customer Service
  • Microsoft Office

Paramedic Courses

To become a paramedic, candidates need to learn a great deal about medicine and emergency care. Therefore, it is highly beneficial to take some relevant courses. At FutureLearn, we have relevant emergency care courses that are very useful for paramedic science students.
  • Medicine and the Arts: Humanising Healthcare

    Explore the field of medical humanities - the intersection of the arts humanities and healthcare - with this free online course

  • Introduction to Critical Care Medicine

    Learn how to handle complex issues faced in Critical Care Units when other options on the ward have been exhausted

  • Introduction to Nursing: Bioscience, Psychology, and Sociology

    Explore the diverse skills and knowledge required to be a nurse and find out where a career in nursing could take you

  • Managing Change in a Healthcare Environment

    Understand why change happens in healthcare environments and learn how to improve your response

  • End of Life Care: Challenges and Innovation

    Explore dying and palliative care practice around the world and evaluate new trends and ideas surrounding end of life care issues

  • Perioperative Medicine in Action

    Explore perioperative medicine and how you can improve care for the high risk surgical patient Join this RCoA endorsed course

  • Cancer Survivorship for Primary Care Practitioners

    Many people are now living with and beyond cancer This course will show you how to provide effective survivorship care

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