A Paramedic’s Guide


Working life

Every day is different when you work as a qualified paramedic. You will be working in a range of non-emergency and emergency situations, using your skills and judgment to quickly assess the condition of a patient and make important life-saving decisions.

You are trained how to stabilize and resuscitate patients using sophisticated drugs, equipment, and techniques. In emergencies, high-tech equipment like traction and spinal splints and defibrillator may be used, and you may also administer drugs and oxygen.

You will frequently work next to rescue, fire, and police services. In addition to your patients, you will be supporting their friends, relatives, and members of the general public as well, and some of them may be very agitated and upset.

Paramedics are the senior members of two-person teams, supported by an emergency care technician or assistant. You can also work alone from a bicycle or motorbike, or give advice from a clinical hub, control room, or over the telephone.

Paramedics closely work with other community healthcare teams, including nurses and doctors from hospital emergency departments, diabetes specialists, mental health teams, occupational therapists, and GPs.

You will be primarily based in a local ambulance station, work in all kinds of weather, and work shifts that include weekends and evenings. If you work for a private medic team then you may do other things like work for large events. To learn more check out ‘medics for events‘.

Entry requirements

In order to work as a paramedic, first, you must successfully complete an apprenticeship degree or approved paramedic science degree. The next step is to apply to work as a qualified paramedic with an ambulance service and register with the HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council).

It usually takes three to four years of full-time study to complete paramedic science courses. This includes a combination of practical work and theory along with ambulance service placements.

Typically, undergraduate entry requirements are:

Three or two A levels, which includes one science, and five GCSEs (grades 9-4/A-C), which include science, maths, and English language or equivalent qualifications.

  • An HNC, HND, or BTEC, including science
  • A health- or science-based access course
  • A relevant NVQ
  • Equivalent Irish or Scottish qualifications

Each university has its own entry requirements. Therefore you need to contact them directly to check.

When you apply for a paramedic position, you will be asked to demonstrate how you believe the NHS Constitution’s values apply to your daily work. If you apply for a paramedic degree, the same thing is true.

New annual payments

The NHS Learning Support Fund will give you a minimum of £5,000 per year to help with funding your studies. The best part of all is that none of it has to be paid back.

Student paramedic/degree apprenticeship

There are some ambulance trusts that give the option to study while you are working. Each one has its own entry requirements. Usually, they ask for the following:

Five GCSEs at least, grade 4/C or higher, including science, maths, and English
or equivalent academic qualifications with high levels of science or health content

Employers also look for two years of driving experience and a good physical fitness level. The recruitment process frequently involves several stages of driving tasks, fitness assessments, tests, and interviews. The government and your employer will pay any required fees. You will be paid a salary but as an apprentice, you will not be eligible for any student grants.

Driving license

When you apply after you are fully qualified or as a student paramedic with an ambulance service, you will be required to hold a full manual driving license. You might need to have extra driving qualifications for driving larger vehicles and carrying passengers if you passed your driving test after 1996. Vehicles of various sizes are used by ambulance service trusts, so you will need to check to see which classifications your license needs to have.