How do I become a paramedic? Before you apply yourself to become a paramedic you need to first determine if becoming a paramedic is right for you. Being a paramedic is not always exciting or about saving lives. The best description of being a paramedic is this:
“Being a paramedic is about being bored 99% the time and then terrified for the remaining 1% while you use all of your training and experience to get you through some seriously emergency…” -Australian Paramedic.
Okay, so you’ve considered what paramedics actually do for a living and have decided to put your efforts towards becoming a paramedic. How do you do it?
In Australia, each state has its own Ambulance Service, and if you want to join, each state has different employment application requirements.
There are three main streams in which you can become a paramedic in Australia.
Options one: General Entry. Through this method you can study on the job through a student paramedic traineeship. This is where you manage to gain entry into a student ambulance paramedic training program (usually very competitive) through a specific Ambulance Service. In Australia, NSW, WA and QLD are the only States that still use general entry into their Ambulance Services. Once you gain employment, you will complete a selected period of theory training by your service (with exams) followed by a 3 year paramedic internship, where you will be trained on road by senior paramedics.
Options two: Graduate Entry. If you are willing (and able) to successfully complete a 3 year Bachelor’s degree in Paramedics/Clinical practice or Health Science, you can then apply for a position at most Ambulance Services as a Graduate Paramedic. Once you gain employment you will then undergo further training and development on road for a period of up to 2 years. This is a longer route to becoming a paramedic, but will place you in a good position for further development as a paramedic in the long run.
Option Three – RPL Paramedic Program. If you’re already a qualified paramedic interstate or overseas you may apply for Recognition of Prior Learning and gain employment as an RPL Paramedic. As an overseas paramedic you can generally get a paramedic job anywhere you want, so long as you are already qualified and have at least 3 years of experience as a paramedic.
Want to become a paramedic in the US?
To become a paramedic in the US you will need to pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians – Paramedic (NREMT-P). To apply to become a paramedic you will need to:
1. Be at least 18 years of age
2. Have an unrestricted drivers licence
3. Possess a current NREMT-B certification
4. Successfully complete and pass both the NREMT-P cognitive and psychomotor exams.
More information about the NREMT-P exam process can be found here.
Want to become a paramedic in the UK? Paramedics in the UK must meet the standards and gain registration as Paramedics under the National Health Professions Council. Becoming a paramedic in the UK generally requires tertiary study in Paramedic Science followed by on-road experience as a student paramedic. UK paramedic registration is held in very high regard around the world and consequently UK registered paramedics are highly employable globally.
Want to become a paramedic in South Africa? In South Africa there are three main levels of Ambulance Attendants and each have their own training requirements. These include: Basic Ambulance Assistant, which requires 160 hours of training; Ambulance Emergency Assistant, which requires 1000 hours of training; and the Critical Care Attendant, which requires a further 1200 hours of paramedic training and is considered equivalent to the US NREMT-P standard.
Want to become a paramedic in Dubai? Dubai regularly recruits paramedics from overseas. The main requirement to become a paramedic in Dubai is to have completed paramedic training and have 3 years of experience in a recognised government ambulance service.
Testing to Become a Paramedic
How do I become a Student Ambulance Paramedic?
You need to be keen, have a full (non-restricted) drivers licence (in some states you must have a Medium Rigid /truck licence) before you can apply for a position as a Trainee Ambulance Paramedic or Student Ambulance Paramedic and actually be trained on the job over about a 3 year period with regular distance education and internal education packages. The competition is tough and some years the application process can take up to 12 months, while natural attrition and selection processes attempts to extract the best people for the job. Some years, positions may have as many as 8,000+ applicants for a position of 40-50 Student Ambulance Paramedics.
Depending on which state you apply for, testing will include: basic skills testing (writing, maths, vocabulary), adaptive learning skills (IQ tests), basic mechanical reasoning skills (can you take apart the oxygen -viva and put it back together again after being shown once), map reading, dictating tests (where someone tells you several things, and you must write everything down and repeat it). If you pass all this, you will most likely have a personality test of some description, where basically they will “get an idea” (sometime quite incorrectly) whether or not you have to right personality for the job. Then you will have a fitness/medical test – you can wear glasses, but need to be able to see well enough to drive, depending on which state, you must not be colour blind. Then, if you survive all that, you will have an interview… and hopefully get a position… well done!
The second method, is to do a bachelor degree in Paramedics (such as Bachelor of Pre-hospital Care, Bachelor of Health Science/ Paramedic, Bachelor of Paramedical Science, or Bachelor of Clinical Practice /Paramedic). Universities in Australia that currently teach tertiary studies in paramedics include: Charles Sturt University (NSW), Hobart University (TAS), Flinders University (SA), Monash University and Victorian University (VIC), and Brisbane University (QLD) and many Universities are introducing this course. This acknowledges the current trend and changes in improving the skill and knowledge base of clinical practitioners (paramedics) from all around Australia.
Once you have gained your three year bachelor degree in some form of Paramedic studies (or in some states first 2/3 of a 3 year degree) you may then apply for a graduate position in an Ambulance Service. Most Ambulance Services in Australia now have graduate positions, which range from 10 months through to 2 years of an on-road “internship” which culminates in eventual certificate to practice as a Qualified Ambulance Paramedic. This is recognised on an individual state basis, and although generally interchangeable amongst different states, each service normally requires a RPL program (Recognition of Prior Learning) to be completed before achieving a Certificate to Practice.