How to become a community specialist paramedic: Sara's story

Meet Sara and learn more about life as a community specialist paramedic. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

I feel really privileged and lucky to do the job that I do and enjoy every day that I come to work.

  • Sara was inspired to work in the ambulance service whilst volunteering with St John Ambulance as a teenager.

  • She's the first member of her family to go to university, where Sara studied Environmental Science

  • As a community specialist paramedic, Sara responds to 999 calls and also works with patients in the community. She visits frail, elderly patients, frequent callers, homeless people, and people who've been directed to her by other crew members to advise them on what health and social care services are available to them

  • The difference between her role and that of a paramedic is that Sara helps her patients over a longer period of time and can see them get better

Watch Alice's colleagues in action on BBC One's Ambulance.
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Before being able to become a specialist paramedic, you will need to be a qualified paramedic and have at least two years' experience on the road. For more information about the opportunities for experienced paramedics to develop into more senior roles, check out NHS Health Careers.

What to expect if you want to become a paramedic

  • Paramedic average salary: NHS band 5-6. Read more about NHS bands. Salaries will differ in private healthcare.

  • Paramedic typical working hours: 36 to 38 hours per week. You work shifts, which could include evenings, weekends and bank holidays.

What qualifications do you need to be a paramedic?

  • Typical entry requirements:

    • You can train at university by doing a paramedic science degree that is approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). Full-time courses usually last three years and typically require two to three A-levels (or equivalent) to secure a place
    • You can also get into this role through a paramedic degree apprenticeship. There are no set entry requirements, but having four or five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and college qualifications such as A-levels (or equivalent) may help
    • Another option is to start as an ambulance care assistant and, with experience, apply for a place on a paramedic training scheme. If you apply for a training scheme as a student paramedic with an ambulance service, you would do your university paramedic qualification on the job
    • You could build experience by volunteering as a community first responder with an organisation like St John Ambulance or an NHS ambulance trust, or by completing a first aid certificate
    • Paramedics also drive ambulances. If you're old enough and legally able to do so, learning to drive would be a useful step towards this role.

Check out the NHS Health Careers website for more information about working as a paramedic.

This information is a guide and is constantly changing. Please check the National Careers Service website for the latest information and all the qualifications needed. (Sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service, NHS Health Careers).

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: National Careers service (England), nidirect (Northern Ireland), My World of Work (Scotland) and Careers Wales (Wales).

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