Industry: Healthcare

    Summary: A paramedic responds to emergency calls as part of an emergency team or as a first responder using procedures they have been trained to do. They usually work in a two person crew alongside a technician or care assistant. However, they can also work on their own using a motorbike to attend to a call out.

    Average salary: Ambulance staff who work for the NHS are paid on the Agenda for Change scales. Paramedics are on Band 5 which from April 2014 is £21,602 to £28,180. Paramedic Team Leaders are on Band 6: £26,041 to £34,876.

    The requirements

    • physical fitness
    • driving licence
    • first aid
    • Disclosure Scotland
    • good eyesight
    • good hearing
    • not squeamish
    • patience
    • quick reaction time
    • reliable
    • remain calm under pressure
    • responsible
    • National Course (Access / Intermediate) / Standard Grade
    • english
    • maths
    • science

    Read further information about this career



    Paramedic; Ambulance paramedic

    The work

    You could be:

    • assessing the patient's condition and making a decision on treatment
    • operating advanced life saving or life support equipment in emergency situations
    • using defibrillators (to restore the heart's rhythm), spinal and traction splints, and intravenous drips
    • giving medication and oxygen to patients in emergency situations
    • taking charge at an incident until a senior officer arrives
    • handing over the patient to the medical or nursing staff at the hospital, giving them a factual and accurate oral report of the patient’s condition
    • completing patient report forms
    • working with police and fire service crews.


    • Your base would be the ambulance station or hospital but you would spend much of your time out in the ambulance attending to patients in accidents and emergencies.
    • You would work shifts including evenings, nights and weekends.
    • You would wear a uniform or sometimes other protective clothing such as helmet or high visibility jacket.

    Getting in

    • You cannot enter the Scottish Ambulance Service as a paramedic. You must already be a qualified ambulance technician (See job profile for Ambulance Technician).
    • Once you have qualified as an ambulance technician, you can apply to train as an ambulance paramedic, but only if a vacancy is available.
    • For entry into the Scottish Ambulance Service as a technician, you must have 2 Highers plus 5 subjects at Standard grade level 3 or National 5 including English and a science subject.
    • All applicants must pass the Scottish Ambulance Service entrance test including accident and emergency fitness test, interview and occupational health screening.
    • You must have a full current Category C1 driving licence. You will also be required to undertake a pre-employment driving assessment.
    • You must pass an entrance exam and a medical examination. You must be fit, with good hearing and eyesight.
    • You will require a satisfactory PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) check to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details.
    Job vacancies appear in the Working for Us section on the Scottish Ambulance Service website, the local press, in Jobcentre Plus offices and on the Universal Jobmatch website (formerly Jobseekers Direct). Most ambulance work is with the NHS, but there are also jobs with the armed services. There are some private ambulance companies around the UK including one or two in Scotland.

    What does it take

    You should be:

    • able to get on with people from all backgrounds and of all ages
    • patient and understanding – you will be dealing with patients who may be distressed or in pain
    • reliable
    • able to work well in a team
    • willing to take responsibility
    • able to remain calm in emergencies and cope with unpleasant sights
    • quick thinking and able to make decisions in difficult situations.


    • You will be enrolled onto the Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE) in Paramedic Practice at the Scottish Ambulance Academy (based within the School of Health at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU)).
    • This is delivered over a 12 month period.
    • The first 5 weeks will be based at GCU then a further 21 weeks Placement Practice.
    • You will then spend a further 5 weeks at GCU and another 21 weeks Placement Practice.
    • During the 12 month period you will undertake a range of assessments. You will be expected to contribute 1500 hours of learning.
    • Successful completion of the DipHE Paramedic Practice leads to eligibility to apply for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

    More Information

    The location of the Scottish Ambulance Academy, allows ambulance staff to have the opportunity to train alongside police and fire service colleagues, for example, simulated road traffic collisions.


    Scottish Ambulance Service
    1 South Gyle Crescent Edinburgh EH12 9EB
    Tel: 0131 314 0000

    Skills for Health
    1st Floor Goldsmiths House Broad Plain Bristol BS2 0JP
    Tel: 0117 922 1155
    Notes: Skills for Health is the Sector Skills Council for the health sector.

    Disclosure Scotland
    P.O. Box 250 Glasgow G51 1YU
    Tel: 0870 609 6006

    Paramedic Resource Centre

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