How To Become a Paramedic

How To Become a Paramedic

If you’re looking to try out a job in the healthcare industry without needing to go to years of medical school, you should consider being a paramedic. The job is stressful but gives you insight into what it might be like to be a nurse or doctor. Oftentimes, people start off as paramedics and use that experience to get other jobs in the medical industry. Learn how to become a paramedic and find out if this is the right path for you.

Understand What a Paramedic Does

Before you embark on your new career, you should understand the job description. A paramedic is a professional who responds to emergency calls and provides medical care to injured or sick patients. Typically, paramedics are the first healthcare professionals who arrive on the scene of an accident. It’s their role to stabilize the patient and to transport them to the hospital.

Paramedics usually work in teams of two. While one person drives the ambulance, someone else cares for the patient. Sometimes, the team includes two paramedics or it could include a paramedic and an EMT.  

Although most paramedics work in ambulances, they also can work in airplanes and helicopters. You could have a specialty, like ocean rescue or child care.

The Responsibilities

Paramedics have a long list of responsibilities. At times, they need to be able to drive emergency vehicles. They may be responsible for staffing, as well as assessing patients and making quick diagnoses.

While a paramedic doesn’t perform surgery on patients, they often perform minor procedures and give pain medications. If a patient is giving birth, a paramedic could be the one who delivers the baby. Just as important as medical care is the paperwork. After treating a patient, a paramedic needs to be able to communicate with the hospital staff. They should be diligent about keeping records of their treatment.

Steps for Becoming a Paramedic

So, you’re ready to start your new career path. To become a paramedic, you need to meet a few basic requirements. Here are the steps you should take to embark on this as a career.

Have a GED or High School Diploma

You don’t need any advanced degrees to become a paramedic, but you do need to have a high school diploma or GED. If you have the option to study physiology or anatomy in high school, you should. The classes help prepare you for a medical career. Unfortunately, you can only become a paramedic after you graduate and after you turn 18.

Obtain an EMTCertification

Every paramedic needs to have an EMT-Basic certification. This is the first level of EMT training and takes approximately six months to finish. During the training, you learn how to take vital signs, offer life support, and control bleeding. After the training, you can handle emergencies like lacerations and fractures. You will be able to perform CPR and administer medications.

After you take the certification course, you need to take an exam. The National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) administers the exam.

Gain Experience as an EMT

Once you have an EMT certification, you can work as an EMT or join a paramedic training program. Depending on your training program, you may need to work as an EMT before you can enroll. It also helps if you have worked in a job that requires some level of medical care.

The more experience you have, the more likely you are to get a job.

It’s worth mentioning that some paramedic programs offer on-the-job training. Before you commit to a program, learn more about the requirements.

Finish a Training Program

An EMT-Basic certification isn’t enough for you to become a paramedic. Rather, you need to take a paramedic training program. After the program, you might earn a certificate or associate degree. Students learn advanced skills that were touched on during EMT training. For example, paramedics have advanced trauma management and medication administration skills.

Most paramedic programs also require you to work in the field and on ambulances. Typically, programs last between one and two years.

Obtain Your License

Every state requires paramedics to have a license. After you complete your training program, you can take the NREMT exam for a chance at passing and obtaining your license. The exam has two parts - a cognitive and psychomotor portion.

During the psychomotor part of the exam, the tester assesses your ability to deal with trauma. Some states also require you to take and pass a state exam before you can receive a license.

What Skills Should You Work on to Become a Paramedic?

If you’re not yet 18 or are still working on your GED, you should practice some common skills used by paramedics. Here are some skills that could help you excel as a paramedic:


When a paramedic gets on a scene, they need to quickly evaluate their patient and determine the best course of action. Problem-solving skills make diagnosing and treating a patient easier.


Because paramedics need to lift their patients, they should have good upper-body strength and mobility.

Ability to Stay Calm

If you’re the type of person who loses control during an emergency, you shouldn’t become a paramedic. Your actions could have serious consequences, so you need to be able to remain calm in the face of a scary situation.


When you deal with patients on a daily basis, you need to have a certain level of empathy. You should be able to connect with your patients and understand what they’re going through.


Once you get your patient to a hospital or facility, you need to clearly communicate with doctors. You also need to be able to clearly communicate with the patient and your team members. If you don’t already have strong communication skills, it’s time to start practicing.

Are You Ready to Be a Paramedic?

If you’re sure that this is the right path for you, then it’s time to start working towards your goals. After you complete your EMT training, you can get to work and enroll in a paramedic program. Then, you can start applying for jobs.

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