Career Guide


Emily Hanson  · Oct 14th 2022

One of the most important jobs in the UK today is that of a Paramedic.

Paramedics practising

Paramedics are immediate response healthcare professionals. They respond to emergency and non-emergency situations where fast treatment or intervention is required, or where a patient cannot get themselves to a hospital without medical support.

Ambulance driver jobs

What is a paramedic?

Paramedics work within a wider healthcare team of doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals. They deliver care to patients on site, whether that be their homes, workplaces or the scenes of an incident, often providing life saving treatments like resuscitation. Their job is to provide a medical assessment of a patient’s needs, give emergency medical care, and decide what the best next step in their care should be (also known as triage), such as accessing a hospital, accident and emergency care, or a GP.

You may be based at an ambulance station and sent out to jobs via an ambulance or a motorbike. The key focus of your job is providing the first point of immediate medical care to those who need it.


Your responsibilities as a paramedic will vary depending on your level of experience, and the patient’s needs.

There are two main routes to qualifying as a paramedic, a standard degree or a paramedic degree apprenticeship.

Common duties include:

  • Taking triage summaries from ambulance operators.
  • If the patient is able to talk, taking a detailed report of what has happened and assessing what medical needs require addressing - you may take these from individuals with the patient if they are unable to explain what has happened themselves.
  • Taking observations of the patient's vital signs, such as oxygen levels and heart rate, to assess their current condition.
  • Complete emergency surgical procedures such as cannulation and intubation, if required.
  • Delivering lifesaving care such as administering ventilators or defibrillators.
  • Administering life saving medication.
  • Liaising with other emergency service providers, such as fire and rescue services or the police force.
  • Supporting loved ones of the patient to understand their condition if needed.
  • Making a decision as to whether the patient requires further medical treatment, and if so, where this should take place - such as a hospital or GP surgery.
  • Remaining with the patient during transport to hospital if needed, keeping them stable and as comfortable as possible.
  • Working in a two person team within an ambulance, usually including yourself and an ambulance technician.
  • Providing a full and detailed briefing of the patient’s needs if transferring them to another service, such as a hospital.
  • Supervise training paramedics, if you have the right level of experience.


A paramedic salary is determined by the NHS Agenda for Change pay scale. Fully qualified paramedics begin on band 5 of the pay scale, earning £27,055 - £32,294. After two years of practice, you should move to band 6 of the pay scale, earning between £33,706 and £40,588.

Senior paramedics with extensive experience and further training could increase to band 7, earning £41,659 - £47,672. With a high level of clinical expertise and training you could progress to being a consultant paramedic, paid at band 8B, earning £56,164 - £65,262.

Police medic


There are two main routes to qualifying as a paramedic, a standard degree or a paramedic degree apprenticeship.

The first route is taking a paramedic science degrees. This usually lasts three years and requires 2 to 3 A Levels, as well as at least 5 GCSEs at grades 9-4 (A*-C) including English language, maths and science, or equivalent qualifications.

Alternatively, you could complete a degree apprenticeship in paramedic science. This includes on the job training and academic study while earning a wage. This route is often followed for individuals who already work in healthcare or the ambulance service, such as working as an ambulance technician. Entry requirements and experience expectations vary depending on the institution, so it’s worth checking what universities local to you require from applicants.

All paramedics must register with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) to practice. You will usually do this once you have completed your HCPC accredited course.

Training and development

The majority of your training will happen during your degree or degree apprenticeship. You will cover the key medical and technical skills required of a paramedic in order to practice effectively.

It’s a good idea to access some experience in a healthcare or emergency setting prior to applying for a paramedic course.

You will usually be teamed up with a more experienced paramedic when you begin your first role or move to a new trust. They will help you familiarise yourself with the daily duties of your role.

To retain your status as a paramedic on the HCPC register you must also complete regular continuing professional development (CPD). This could include shadowing senior staff, taking on additional training and attending conferences and seminars. The College of Paramedics offers extensive online training and resources to support you in your career development.

You could also take on further postgraduate study in particular areas of paramedicine. If you are interested in this, you will need to search for ‘post registration’ paramedic courses, as pre-registration are for those who have not yet registered.


The skills you need to become a paramedic combine medical and technical expertise with excellent patient care.

These include:

  • A robust knowledge of emergency medicine, including common illnesses and injuries and their appropriate management.
  • Technical expertise in delivering life saving and life improving care.
  • Excellent verbal communication skills for taking a detailed history of a patient’s medical needs, and why they have particular need for an ambulance.
  • Compassion for patients and their needs.
  • Confidence in your ability, and the capacity to express this confidence with patients (they may be feeling very anxious - it’s your job to put them at ease as much as possible).
  • An ability to retain patient’s dignity respectfully.
  • Excellent written communication for taking detailed notes to pass on to other medical professionals.
  • An ability to remain calm in stressful situations.
  • Excellent people skills - you may be working with individuals in vulnerable situations and challenging life moments, so you’ll need to work well with others.
  • Ability to work well under pressure, especially in large incidents or emergency situations.
  • Confidence in working with individuals from a variety of backgrounds, experiences and abilities.
  • Ability to work competently within a team of wider professionals, including the ambulance team and any medical professionals you liaise with, or triage to.
  • Problem solving skills - it’s your job to listen and look for the key symptoms and make decisions on patient care.
  • An ability to make quick, life saving decisions with confidence.
  • A full clean driving licence, as you may need to drive the ambulance at times.
  • Physical strength - you may be required to help lift patients who are unable to walk.

Nurse paramedic

Work Experience

It’s a good idea to access some experience in a healthcare or emergency setting prior to applying for a paramedic course. You could contact your local GP, ambulance service or hospital to see if they allow shadowing students to observe the daily runnings of a medical care provider.

You could also build on your experience via voluntary or paid work as a first aider. This could be as part of your usual job role, taking on first aid training. Alternatively you could volunteer for organisations such as St John’s Ambulance or be a Community First Responder within an ambulance service near you.

Paramedics work within a wider healthcare team of doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals.

The College of Paramedics also offers student level membership to those interested in paramedicine. Joining offers access to training and seminars to help support you in your paramedicine journey.

Career Prospects

Paramedicine is a varied career path, with room for advancement. You could specialise in a particular area of paramedicine via further training and courses to become a senior paramedic or a consultant paramedic. You could also progress to become a critical care paramedic with further training. You can also take on management responsibilities, overseeing teams of paramedics within an ambulance service.

If you particularly enjoy the academic side of your role, you could move into teaching. With the right level of experience you could train up student paramedics via mentoring or by teaching on a paramedic degree or degree apprenticeship.

You might find that your work in paramedic jobs inspires you to move into other fields of healthcare. Being a trained paramedic would set you in excellent stead for applying for a medical degree to become a doctor, for example, or to train towards nursing. You could also move to office based ambulance centre work.

undergraduate Uni's

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