How to become an emergency medical technician: Ray's story

Meet Ray, who works alongside paramedics on emergency call-outs. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

People know that as soon as you have that uniform on, they are able to look up to you as a symbol of help.

  • EMTs (emergency medical technicians) like Ray work alongside paramedics on ambulances. They attend the same call-outs as paramedics, but the paramedic is the senior medic. This means there are some tasks the paramedic will do instead of the EMT, such as giving certain types of drugs to patients
  • Ray was inspired to work on ambulances when he hurt himself as a child and a paramedic was called out to help him
  • He volunteered with the British Red Cross, which made him want to help people on a regular basis as an EMT.
Watch Ray and his colleagues in action on BBC One's Ambulance.

Emergency medical technicians are sometimes referred to as emergency care assistants. Emergency care assistants drive ambulances under emergency conditions and support paramedics.

What to expect if you want to become an emergency medical assistant

  • Emergency care assistant salary: £18,813 to £23,761 per year
  • Emergency care assistant working hours: 40 to 42 hours per week. You work shifts, which could include evenings, weekends and bank holidays

What qualifications do you need to be an emergency medical assistant?

  • Typical entry requirements: You can get this job through an apprenticeship or by applying directly. For example, you could get into this job through an advanced apprenticeship as an ambulance support worker. You'll usually need five GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), usually including English and Maths, for an advanced apprenticeship. You may have an advantage getting into this role if you've worked or volunteered in a health or social care role. You could contact the voluntary services co-ordinator at your local NHS trust for further advice. First aid work would also be useful, for example with St John Ambulance or the British Red Cross.
    To apply directly for this role, you'll usually need three or four GCSEs (or equivalent) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), including English, Maths and a science subject, as well as excellent driving skills and current knowledge of the highway code. Some ambulance services may also want you to have experience of working in a patient care setting, ideally in the NHS and with a current first aid certificate. If you passed your driving test after 1996, you may need an extra driving qualification for larger vehicles and for carrying passengers.

This information is a guide (sources: LMI for All, National Careers Service)

For careers advice in all parts of the UK visit: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Check out the NHS website for more information about working as an emergency medical technician.

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