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EMS 101
by EMS1 Staff

What are the requirements to be a paramedic?

The training is intense and rigorous, but the rewards of serving others can be tremendous

By EMS1 Contributors

The requirements to be a paramedic are extremely rigorous, so it’s not an undertaking or a career choice to be taken lightly. A paramedic is the highest level of EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) certification. A paramedic is trained and certified to perform advanced life support (ALS), which includes administering IV fluids, injections, medications and performing advanced respiratory procedures. A paramedic also performs many of the same functions as a basic EMT, such as treating wounds, performing CPR, delivering babies, and performing patient assessments.

Paramedics are often the lead member of a rescue team, with the most training and the most decision making power. This means that the requirements to be a paramedic include strong leadership skills and the ability to perform complex life-saving functions in extremely stressful crisis situations. A paramedic must keep a cool head and maintain authority amongst his or her team members in situations when a mistake can mean the difference between life and death.

Become an EMT

The first of the training requirements to be a paramedic is to get certified as an EMT-B, which is the first and most basic level of EMT training. The EMT-B training is available through many community colleges and other institutions. It usually takes about six months to complete the 120 to 150 hours of training. After that, you take a state certification test. As an EMT, you can be employed providing emergency treatment in ambulances and many other venues. Most people work as EMTs for a couple of years to get some experience before undergoing the additional 1,200 to 1,800 hours of training to become paramedic. Some paramedic programs require you to have worked as an EMT for six months or so before gaining entrance.

Paramedic education

The educational requirements to be a paramedic are rigorous. Many community colleges have two-year degree programs in paramedic training. Oftentimes there’s a pre-requisite of college-level biology, math and English in order to be accepted in a paramedic program. The curriculum consists of both classroom training and clinical training at hospitals, ambulance companies and fire departments. A paramedic trainee studies anatomy and physiology, as well as courses such as advanced life support, advanced pediatric life support, and basic trauma life support.

Licensure exam

After you’ve completed the required training, the final step in fulfilling the requirements to be a paramedic is to take your state’s licensing examination. It’s a difficult test, but there are many great study guides to help you pass it. As a certified paramedic, you’ll have more job opportunities than as a basic EMT, plus you’ll make a higher salary and have more responsibility. You can work in a fire station, on a life support helicopter, in a hospital, on a cruise ship or in a wide variety of other exciting venues.

While the requirements to be a paramedic are arduous, the work itself can be extremely rewarding. Being a paramedic requires a dedication to the job that makes it more of an avocation than a vocation. It definitely isn’t the right choice for everybody, but for many, it’s the job of a lifetime.

About the author

EMS 101 articles are intended to educate a non-emergency medical services audience about the emergency medical services profession. These articles are written by EMS1 staff members and EMS1 contributors, and cover a wide range of topics from EMS protocols all paramedics & EMTs should follow to an overview of the necessary requirements for becoming a paramedic.
The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Renu Dhaker Renu Dhaker Wednesday, June 12, 2013 7:39:43 PM please tell me qualification for this course...............
Mahendra Dhaker Mahendra Dhaker Wednesday, June 12, 2013 10:13:49 PM abhito tere age ni hui ha tu kya karegi es ka.....
Terry Masuku Terrence Vincent Terry Masuku Terrence Vincent Sunday, August 18, 2013 7:45:45 PM Hi, I'll like to know if there are any learnerships or financial assistance for people who can not afford the fees?
Zohie Allgood Zohie Allgood Monday, September 30, 2013 2:23:43 PM COOL I WANT TO BE A PARAMEDIC
Mashaba Sehata Mashaba Sehata Tuesday, October 01, 2013 12:51:16 PM i'm working at shell ultra city midrand north,so i wil lyk to ask if i cn learn it part tym
Mulu Mpash Mulu Mpash Monday, October 07, 2013 3:53:09 PM I would like to do a paramedic course,i'm working as assistant nurse ,ist possible to study part tine?
Siphiwe Yende Siphiwe Yende Thursday, October 10, 2013 4:19:49 AM how can i get a learnership
Steve Jacobi Steve Jacobi Thursday, October 24, 2013 4:15:35 PM This article is hysterical. Any college which offers the Paramedic course also has the "certificate" version. Very, very few require college level A&P or any of the sciences. Most are the tech level and watered down to the 10th grade reading level to stay with the Paramedic textbook. It is also only a job of the lifetime if you are lucky enough to get hired by a fire department as a firefighter.
Denise Waldene Maritz-Korabie Denise Waldene Maritz-Korabie Friday, November 01, 2013 7:35:10 AM If only...
Tshepiso Vura Phalatsi Tshepiso Vura Phalatsi Tuesday, November 05, 2013 5:41:21 AM hi what subjects are required to be able to do the course
Marek 'Moo' Griffiths Marek 'Moo' Griffiths Saturday, November 09, 2013 4:10:00 PM Currently there is no financial assistance in regards to fee's, you can however apply for a student loan. As for qualifications you need 5 GCSE's, 2 A levels and a degree in Paramedical Science from University before applying. You will not start as a paramedic either, you start as a care assistant, then a paramedical assistant, then get promoted to paramedic. This can take anything from 5 to 10 years to fully complete, and can cost you up to £35,000 in fee's and other costs. Good luck!
Amanda Ammy Zulu Amanda Ammy Zulu Monday, November 11, 2013 9:43:37 PM If you didnt do biology and maths you dont qualify to do paramedic course?which schools do you prefer for us to study for EMT?
MakaJusana Zandile Mqongwana MakaJusana Zandile Mqongwana Thursday, November 14, 2013 9:34:17 AM Hi Ive done the Basic Ambulance Assistant course and looking forward to do the AEA course but the problem is I did not get the chance to volunteer as I am currently working as a security officer , Im currently residing in Cape Town please help me where can I found a place to do my hours on my off days, All the places I have applied on wants me to be a full time volunteer which I can not do for now as I am still saving this R35000 for the AEA
Caitlynn Possehl Caitlynn Possehl Monday, November 18, 2013 8:45:15 PM soon this will be me =)
Ntsunda Mnguni Ntsunda Mnguni Thursday, November 21, 2013 12:53:46 AM Hi my name is Abram n I'm living in kwa-Mhlanga n I want to be r paramedic I want to knw the courses of paramedic I will b happy if u can assist me. With the courses how much per course
Nikita Nefedov Nikita Nefedov Monday, November 25, 2013 1:46:34 PM what sort of education are you going through? im interested in becoming one but still not sure about the decision.
Brittany Turner Brittany Turner Friday, November 29, 2013 1:13:10 PM You have to Also be a big a## and act like your a god and treat you emt b as basic like an dumb a##.
Fikile Mthimkhulu Fikile Mthimkhulu Tuesday, December 17, 2013 4:52:09 AM How much total shuold I pay to complit the couse of 6months and where to find college
Linda Comfort Nkosi Linda Comfort Nkosi Monday, December 23, 2013 2:12:44 PM Yoh i like dis work with all my heart n I think I'm dedicated to dis work
Djtaker Ray Mulalo Mulaudzi Djtaker Ray Mulalo Mulaudzi Wednesday, December 25, 2013 2:39:22 AM EMT CETIFICATE TEKES HOW MANY YEARS
Koketso Sharley Koketso Sharley Wednesday, January 01, 2014 5:59:21 AM If u don't have a licence or learners are you qualified
Jeremy Markham Jeremy Markham Wednesday, January 08, 2014 9:09:30 AM Not that difficult in the US.
Ramuhala Dzudzanani Tshivhidzo Ramuhala Dzudzanani Tshivhidzo Wednesday, January 08, 2014 12:12:42 PM my problem s how to find a college can u assist me plz m stuck here
Wednesday, January 08, 2014 2:22:36 PM This is the best job in the world. I have been a medic for 8 years and haven't regretted it yet! I have been using my medic skills in the air too! Have been a flight medic for 2 1/2 years now. Paramedic school seemed like a breeze after taking the FP-C test. :) Steve
Stephen Chapman Stephen Chapman Wednesday, January 08, 2014 5:36:31 PM 6 months
Stephen Chapman Stephen Chapman Wednesday, January 08, 2014 5:37:04 PM roughly 2k
Stephen Chapman Stephen Chapman Wednesday, January 08, 2014 5:37:33 PM most school have a payment plan so you dont have to pay it all up front
Masombuka Goodness Masombuka Goodness Thursday, January 09, 2014 6:13:58 AM If i dont hve maths in my certicte du i qualify to be a paramedic?
Kopano Evidence Matswisa Kopano Evidence Matswisa Sunday, January 12, 2014 6:22:36 AM What if u ddnt Do Math n Biology wil u qualify?
Lisa Sheryl Kissel Lisa Sheryl Kissel Sunday, January 12, 2014 2:51:54 PM I am an EMT Basic , I worked 1 -1/2 years as an EMT volunteering for the Bobby sherman foundation. I have a CA class C driver's license that is 3 years old.
Mary Ferris Mary Ferris Sunday, January 12, 2014 3:20:19 PM The responsibilities of this profession would have to appeal to a very select individual who is trustworthy, sensible, mature, reliable and dependable. Someone in whom the public could place their complete trust. My limited experience with these individuals has been most gratifying.
Dona Dorman Dona Dorman Sunday, January 12, 2014 5:02:30 PM no
Anathi Bee Yamkela Mgudlwa Anathi Bee Yamkela Mgudlwa Monday, January 13, 2014 3:35:59 PM What levels and subjects must i have to become a paramedic?
Tshegofatso Magoro Tshegofatso Magoro Wednesday, January 15, 2014 5:20:08 AM do u also take maths literacy??
Christina Tina Muhuura Christina Tina Muhuura Wednesday, January 15, 2014 8:11:13 AM VERY HELPFULTHANX
Paballo Wa Ga Lala Paballo Wa Ga Lala Thursday, January 16, 2014 3:48:53 AM do i need licence and matric,
Nomcebo Mkhabela Nomcebo Mkhabela Monday, January 20, 2014 3:14:27 AM is there a way to get in there without qualifications
Rampedi Tshepo Ramz Rampedi Tshepo Ramz Tuesday, January 21, 2014 4:31:50 AM what do i need to have
Besithi Mdolomba Besithi Mdolomba Friday, January 24, 2014 3:51:35 AM i want to be a paramedic , which requirement must i have.
Mafezz Mavuso Mafezz Mavuso Friday, January 24, 2014 4:35:34 AM Andakubona nasekaya mntax
Alex Schindler Alex Schindler Sunday, January 26, 2014 8:51:03 PM for those people who dont read for some reason, this is telling you the requirements. Unless you lack any education at all, why dont u just read the content and research before asking a stupid question like, " can i be qualified if i dont have a license?" YOU ARE ON AN AMBULANCE, seriously? or "is there a way to get in without qualifications?", The only qualification you need to get into the course for it is not be a tard and not being able to find this would in the time it took you to post something on a site you'll never come back to check if someone replied. people are not going to just tell you everything you need to know, you need to learn to research your own information instead of asking dumb question. @ Besithi Mdolomba Asking whhat requirement must you have. SERIOUSLY did u click on this post to just click on it?
Besithi Mdolomba Besithi Mdolomba Thursday, January 30, 2014 2:54:34 AM yho mtase bubu busy yazz , ndabona ubhuti yedwa ngapezulu .. ndiaxolisa ndlokukonza .
Dineo Sgiva Dineo Sgiva Saturday, February 01, 2014 12:10:17 AM I need college 4 paramedic in polokwane or pretoria. Plz this is my digits 0825880758 plz sms the info
Mahlatse Colin Rapatsa Mahlatse Colin Rapatsa Saturday, February 01, 2014 12:48:24 AM sgivo ka pretoria e kgona mxana dat college
Tshepo Motsamai Mandla Tshepo Motsamai Mandla Thursday, February 06, 2014 2:18:21 PM You can search information on ur own but there are links that you need 2 follow which are opposite towards what you have searched, and often people will have 2 ask directly by means of a call @alex i hope u matured enough to say that on @ndombela. So if you hv a full infomation abt what others wants to knw tell them instead of grunting them
Alex Schindler Alex Schindler Sunday, February 09, 2014 8:26:53 AM While There are links to follow, it it not a crime to ask what links there are to follow. As for your comment for me maturing, There is nothing Immature about my statement at all actually. The fact of the matter is the obvious lack of effort people put into it. You tell me that if i have information to give it to them instead of grunting about it, you may need to reread my statement before posting again, because if u had read it you would have realized my only targets on the subject were people that posted on an article questions that the article clearly explained. So "@Mokoena" if i am not matured enough to state this, what is maturity and acting mature when considering peoples lack of effort. Being mature is as being an adult as being an adult is being able to be ones individual, being ones own individual allows them the ability to be free, but being free requires a sense of responsibility. So "@Mokoena" if im not matured enough to state this, yet im matured enough to at least have common sense to read an article before posting questions on it. Would u be matured enough to understand the logic to read it before posting? Since u were not even able to see the logic in my own post? And p.s. if people asked logical questions id easily answer them. Good try though. lol
Tshepo Motsamai Mandla Tshepo Motsamai Mandla Sunday, February 09, 2014 1:53:40 PM Nyc shot!!! @Alex lets put the issue of maturing aside but are you aware of that nt all of us have sources to seek info... Though they've tried all the level of thier best to get what they are seeking 4. Mayb u should hv been posted de awareness of the logic that need 2 b applied so as a results they failed 2 do so therefore we mst aply de basic rule of life dat sys ''we liv 2 share''. So i get ur point when you a sying ppl mst put effort 2 seek info... Where's we socialise as facebook is a social network it simply means nw ppl must socialise hw by means off sharing info.. 4rm another dats 1 of de reason y should we socialise. Others will lol u with CAPS LoGs vha!!!!
Sboch Cbo Degal Mkomtwane Sboch Cbo Degal Mkomtwane Tuesday, February 11, 2014 4:22:14 AM I want to be a paramedic but i did not do biology and maths so what can i do?
Tracey Campion Tracey Campion Wednesday, February 12, 2014 9:03:23 PM Dear Jesus; I'm pretty sure that not being licensed question is in regard to Is she qualified to start training ! "Tard" isn't a word and are you twelve ?
Kwanele Kwastö Málíñgá Kwanele Kwastö Málíñgá Saturday, March 01, 2014 1:42:31 AM Hie I want to be a Paramedic,so how can i find the college.Rply 073 792 2281,thnk you God bless you.
Dan Gratney Dan Gratney Monday, March 10, 2014 12:33:08 AM bad manners
Mofihli Rapabi Ephraim Mofihli Rapabi Ephraim Tuesday, March 11, 2014 3:07:31 PM I also wnna knw 4 those hu hv any idea,whr cz i gt paramedic college at free state?
Palesa Portia Mnguni Palesa Portia Mnguni Saturday, March 29, 2014 2:35:19 AM I am interested in being a paramedic,so I need a college where can I find 1
Nomonde Bredget Mdaka Nomonde Bredget Mdaka Sunday, March 30, 2014 9:22:43 AM the requirements include maths ,but if i did maths literacy in school?
IamGeekay King Junior IamGeekay King Junior Saturday, April 12, 2014 9:07:23 AM So am also wnt to a Paramedic bt i dnt knw wher to study it..(College)..wher should i find a college to study Paramedic....and am also doing Math.Lit..
Christinah Aphane Christinah Aphane Saturday, April 12, 2014 4:39:31 PM I'm really desparately wanna study paramedic but the main problem is I'm doing commerce at school so I don't know if I'm still qualify for this career choice I really wanna do thisr
Gift Mondli Mthethwa Gift Mondli Mthethwa Thursday, May 01, 2014 2:57:02 PM Pls help guys i m in Richards Bay need a college 2 study paramedic
Andile Jwarha Ngqweya Andile Jwarha Ngqweya Friday, May 09, 2014 1:43:13 AM way to go Alex, them Pips are just lazy, lol. just like the way you escape in a open argument. people please read and if you do not understand, please re-read after that you can ask a question but not a Stupid question that has been clearly stated in the text..
Candy Bokang Bokie Candy Bokang Bokie Sunday, May 11, 2014 7:34:46 AM Eish i really wnna study paramedic bt i hav. Financial problem plz god hlp m 1day
Siphelele Chwama'lawukazi Swartbooi Siphelele Chwama'lawukazi Swartbooi Tuesday, May 27, 2014 6:30:01 AM iwant to becme aparamedic bt dont know if ican iwas doing mathd.lit at school
Tawal Abdul Tawal Abdul Sunday, June 08, 2014 5:38:16 AM awesome career
Thabo Theophilus Ribane Thabo Theophilus Ribane Thursday, June 19, 2014 10:44:45 PM wow nice career.that is my career and l want to become a paramedic, but the problem is l don't know where can l study this career (college) and am living in NORTH-WEST PROVINCE. I need help plz.
Jose Leo Jose Leo Wednesday, July 02, 2014 4:53:31 PM Wow.
Marc E Marc Marc E Marc Tuesday, July 15, 2014 10:02:26 AM God help those who help theirself
Patrick O'reilly Patrick O'reilly Saturday, July 19, 2014 12:19:50 AM which remmended schools can I go for proper training in KZN and how much the fees are to complete a couse.
Olerato Tshegofatso OleTshegofaditse Olerato Tshegofatso OleTshegofaditse Monday, July 21, 2014 12:27:10 PM wow this is a great course
Alphiona Didi Maroala Alphiona Didi Maroala Wednesday, July 30, 2014 1:05:30 AM I WANNA BE A PARAMEDIC AND I AM DOING COMMERCE, WHAT SHOULD I DO TO QUALIFY?
Tawnya Gardner Tawnya Gardner Sunday, August 31, 2014 5:20:42 PM Is there a height requirement to become a paramedic? I'm under 5' 0" tall.
Rakoto Nthabiseng Sharon Rakoto Nthabiseng Sharon Thursday, October 02, 2014 2:58:14 AM I want to study paramedic next year, so where can I get the forms as um doing matric this year?
Manganyi Moses Manganyi Moses Tuesday, October 14, 2014 9:30:43 AM i want to study paramedic next year , so i dont know about the application and i done science streem at my matric .

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