How to become a paramedic
Paramedics are often the first professionals to attend a medical emergency and are required to work in a fast-paced, tense and highly regulated environment. Working as a paramedic, you might be part of an ambulance team, a rapid response crew or travel to emergencies alone by motorcycle. Somer paramedics undertake more advanced training which enables them to work with an Air ambulance crew on a helicopter.
£22,000 to £36,000
A guide to the paramedic profession
It is imperative to be a confident and highly skilled driver in order to be a paramedic as well as being able to treat a huge variety of illnesses and injuries for a wide and diverse patient base. In order to be successful as a paramedic, it is essential that you have excellent communication skills.
Paramedics usually work 37.5 hours a week and will have a uniform provided by the ambulance trust that employs them. Shifts will vary between daytime, evening and weekend hours and most paramedics will be expected to work some unsociable hours such as bank holidays including Christmas and New Years’ Day. Being a paramedic is a physically demanding job that is likely to be as emotional as it is rewarding.
What qualifications will I need to be a paramedic?
In order to become a paramedic, you will need to complete a degree, Diploma of Higher Education (DipHe) or a Foundation Degree in a relevant subject such as Paramedic Science. It is usually a prerequisite for paramedics to also hold an advanced driving qualification prior to being offered a job. Many areas have an ambulance trust that will provide advanced driving training to those who do not already hold this qualification.
Paramedic courses will involve academic and classroom study which is heavily supported by on the job training. It may be possible for candidates to enter the profession as a student paramedic or a trainee ambulance technician, as opposed to the university entry. This route of entry would be very similar to the university entry and the qualification requirements must still be met, but this is often a preferred choice for those who cannot commit to a university timetable or who would like to earn whilst they learn. However, training on the job roles are incredibly competitive and places are very limited.
In order to complete a paramedic science degree, most universities will stipulate that the student must hold a minimum of five ‘high-grade’ GCSEs (A-C), which will include science, maths and English. It is usually essential that the candidate also has at least two A levels, one of which must be in a science subject. For those without A-Levels, an access course may be accepted by some universities.
As an alternative, candidates who hold a level 3 vocational course in a science or health related qualification may also be accepted onto a paramedic science degree course by some universities.
Essential Skills for Being a Paramedic
There are a number of essential skills that are required for those who want to be a paramedic. This includes:
- Excellent communication skills
- A caring and compassionate nature
- The ability to follow orders and procedures
- The ability to work calmly and confidently in highly tense and time-sensitive situations
- Advanced driving skills
- Attention to detail
Will I be required to have a medical check and criminal records check to be a paramedic?
In order to work as a paramedic, you will need to pass a medical check. This is because the role of a paramedic is physically demanding. You will also need to have an enhanced criminal record check before becoming a paramedic. This is due to the fact that as a paramedic you will be working with some of the most vulnerable members of society, including children.
Day to Day Work of a Paramedic
The day to day work of a paramedic can vary greatly and no two days will be the same. One of the most attractive features of this career for many is the range of illnesses, injuries, situations and patients that the paramedic will deal with. Some of the day to day duties of a paramedic might include:
- Being the first medical professional to arrive at an accident, trauma or incident.
- Administering emergency treatment, first aid or medicines.
- Checking the state, wellbeing and condition of the patient and determining what action to take.
- Dressing wounds, supporting broken limbs, minimising movement for patients who could suffer further damage and transferring the patient from one area to another safely.
- Delivering a baby.
- Carrying out a surgical procedure such as inserting a breathing tube.
- Working in conjunction with other emergency response teams such as the fire brigade and police.
- Resuscitating a patient.
- Communicating with doctors, other services, family and the patient directly.
How much will I be paid as a paramedic?
The starting salary for a qualified paramedic is usually around £22,000. An experienced paramedic can expect to earn around £29,000 and a highly experienced paramedic or those with additional skills or responsibilities can earn up to £36,000.
Career Progression for Paramedics
Paramedics are able to progress their careers to positions of additional responsibility and specialisms following a number of years in service. After around 3 years of working as a paramedic, you could expect to become a specialist paramedic or a team leader. This might mean that you specialise in care for the elderly, children or specific types of emergencies.
Alternatively, some paramedics use their service time and experience to progress into education and training roles, operational management positions or in a human resources role within the ambulance trust.