How to become a paramedic: Tanoh's story

Meet Tanoh, 28, and find out about his life as a paramedic in the NHS. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

By far the best part of the job is knowing that every day at work I can make a difference to someone.

  • In Tanoh's job, he responds to emergency 999 calls
  • Because paramedics are often the first people to reach someone in need of medical help, they are trained to give life-saving treatment
  • Paramedics work in shifts of 12 hours with a partner, so they need to have excellent teamwork skills
  • Tanoh is also responsible for checking the equipment and supplies in an ambulance ahead of his shifts and driving to patients in need of his help.

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).

Job progression

Once you are an experienced paramedic with additional skills and qualifications, you can develop into other roles that allow you to carry out more treatments and take on more responsibility. There are many opportunities for experienced paramedics to develop into more senior roles such as a specialist paramedic, advanced paramedic or consultant paramedic. See NHS Health Careers for further information.

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