How to Become a Paramedic (With Development Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 19 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you want to help people and can stay calm during emergency situations, you may make a good paramedic. Becoming a paramedic takes tertiary study and a full driver's licence. Ongoing education helps you maintain your knowledge and skills. In this article, we explain how to become a paramedic and list the primary duties, important skills and average salary for this role.

How to become a paramedic

Knowing how to become a paramedic can help you prepare for this rewarding career. Here are the common steps you can follow to become a paramedic:

1. Get your driver's licence

Paramedics require a full driver's licence. Learning to drive and securing your licence as soon as possible can help you progress to your full licence when you're ready to enter the workforce. You may like to use a professional driving instructor to learn more efficiently. You can sit your driver's exam after logging a set number of hours in different driving conditions. Consider applying once you feel confident driving and understanding the road rules. The driving test has a multiple-choice theory assessment and practical evaluation. You get a full licence after holding provisional or probationary licences for several years.

2. Complete year 12 of high school, or the equivalent

Completing high school to the end of year 12 is the most efficient way to qualify for university. Choose a senior study program with enough units to get an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) with your secondary school certificate. English and mathematics are common prerequisites for paramedic degrees. You may like to confirm all prerequisites with your preferred university before choosing your senior subjects.

If you decide to be a paramedic after leaving school early or your ATAR is lower than expected, consider vocational study. The Certificate IV in Tertiary Preparation, offered at most TAFEs, can help you qualify for university.

3. Study for a bachelor's degree in paramedics

If you have the required ATAR, you can study for a relevant bachelor's degree, such as a Bachelor of Science (Paramedical Science) or a Bachelor of Paramedic Science. Completing the degree takes three years of full-time study, or the part-time equivalent. Paramedic degree programs have a mix of classroom lessons and work placement experiences. The course teaches a variety of essential skills, including:

  • pre-hospital diagnosis techniques

  • professional and ethical practice

  • communication skills

  • anatomy and physiology

  • clinical skills

4. Register with the Paramedicine Board of Australia

After graduating from university, you can register with the Paramedicine Board of Australia via the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) website. All states and territories recognise this public register, so you can accept a job anywhere in the country. AHPRA conducts a criminal history check to ensure all candidates are suitable for registration. Create an online account and complete the registration in full, attaching all relevant supporting documents:

  • Proof of identity: copies of documents that prove you are who you say, such as your passport, birth certificate, citizenship certificate, Immicard, Medicare card, driver's licence and name change document, if applicable

  • Qualifications: copy of degree certificate and academic transcript

  • Impairment documents: if you have an impairment, include a written statement explaining your condition and its management

5. Apply for paramedic jobs

After receiving an email from AHPRA and the Paramedicine Board of Australia confirming your registration, you can apply for paramedic jobs. You could apply with your state or territory's ambulance service, health-focused charities or private companies. Highlight your work placement experience and recent paramedic knowledge in your applications. Prepare to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before receiving a job offer.

6. Participate in continuing professional development

Taking part in continuing professional development is essential for maintaining AHPRA registration. You may enrol in education courses and attend seminars, conferences and workshops. Record your continuing professional development activities so you can prove your compliance. Registration expires on November 30 each year. Notify APHRA if you change your email address to make sure you receive your renewal reminder email.

7. Consider specialising

After gaining experience as a paramedic, you may like to secure a specialist role. Some specialist roles, such as an intensive care paramedic, require additional study. Here are some specialist paramedic roles:

  • Intensive care paramedic: These paramedics attend serious emergencies where patients have life-threatening concerns, such as heart attacks and car crash injuries.

  • Paramedical clinical instructor: These paramedics train and support new paramedic interns.

  • Patient transport officer: These paramedics transport patients to non-emergency appointments at hospitals and medical facilities.

Related: 15 Important Jobs That Help People

Primary duties of paramedics

Paramedics respond to medical emergencies. They assess injuries and illnesses, provide emergency medical care and transport patients to the hospital in ambulances if required. Here are some of the common duties of paramedics:

  • driving the ambulance to the sites of accidents and emergencies to respond to emergency calls

  • assessing life-threatening and non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses and determining the best treatment options

  • treating and managing patient conditions on site and in transit to hospital, including performing clinical tests, administering drugs, replacing fluids and resuscitating and defibrillating patients

  • transporting people with severe illnesses, injuries and disabilities to and from rehabilitation and specialised treatment centres

  • monitoring the ambulance to ensure it is well stocked with medical supplies and equipment works reliably

  • reporting to doctors on patient injuries and treatment received

  • attending public gatherings where health emergencies may occur, such as sporting events and festivals, and providing care as required

Important skills for paramedics

Focusing on improving your skills can make you a better paramedic. Paramedics with a variety of useful skills may also find securing employment easier. Here are some important skills for paramedics:

First aid

Paramedics rely on their knowledge of first aid to treat patients until they can receive full medical treatment. Cleaning and dressing wounds, resuscitating patients, stemming bleeds and treating burns can all improve health outcomes. While it is usually optional, some employers require paramedics to hold a first aid certificate. Securing this certificate is a good way to distinguish yourself from other job candidates and prove your first aid skills.

Sound judgement and decision making

People rely on paramedics to make the best decisions about their medical care. The best paramedics can quickly assess a patient's physical and mental health and decide the best course of treatment. The decisions they make often impact patient health outcomes, so sound judgement is vital. It's important for paramedics to make logical decisions with minimal delays, as starting treatment fast can help patients recover and reduce their pain.

Related: Decision-Making Skills: Definition With Tips

Verbal and written communication

Paramedics communicate constantly with their patients and their loved ones, their ambulance partner, emergency service personnel, the dispatch crew and hospital employees. Paramedics with strong communication skills can share and receive clear and accurate messages. These skills are vital for receiving dispatch calls, learning about patient symptoms, explaining treatment and delivering patient reports. Good communication skills can also help paramedics adapt their communication style depending on who they're addressing.

Related: The Main Components of the Communication Process

Compassion

Patients and their loved ones often feel anxious at the scenes of emergencies and accidents. Compassionate paramedics can help these people feel understood and valued. The best paramedics focus on connecting with the patients they treat and their loved ones. Their willingness to treat all people helps patients feel comfortable disclosing all relevant information about their case.

Interpersonal skills

Paramedics rely on their interpersonal skills to relate to people at accident scenes and their colleagues. They typically work in teams of two. Building rapport quickly with another paramedic can help you work more efficiently. Building a connection with patients can help them feel calmer and more confident in the care they receive.

Situational awareness

Paramedics often treat patients in sites with potential hazards. Good situational awareness helps them survey a scene constantly and detect any hazards before they put patients at risk. If required, paramedics can adapt their behaviour to keep themselves and their patients safe.

Related: Situational Analysis: What Is It and How Do I Do It?

Driving and navigation

Good driving and navigation skills help paramedics drive ambulances to and from accident sites and hospitals. They can move efficiently through traffic to minimise delays in treating patients. They understand the locations dispatchers provide and the most efficient travel route.

Physical fitness

Being a paramedic can be a physically demanding job, so it's important to have a good level of physical fitness. Your fitness can help you lift patients who are unconscious or have impaired mobility out of danger or onto stretchers. You may also rely on your physical fitness to steady someone as they walk. As paramedics often have long shifts, they rely on their endurance on multiple challenging calls.

Average salary for paramedics

The national average salary for a paramedic is $93,463 per year. Bonuses, overtime hours and penalty rates can increase a paramedic's salary. A paramedic's experience, qualifications and employer can also impact salary. For example, paramedics employed by mining companies usually earn salaries well above the national average.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in the article are affiliated with Indeed.

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