Ambulance paramedic


Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would respond rapidly to emergency calls and give immediate medical care to injured people in potentially life-threatening situations.

You'd deal with anything from minor wounds to serious injuries caused by a major accident. You'd treat shocked and traumatised people who will rely on you to help them and ease their pain. You would often transfer critically ill patients from one hospital to another. 

You'd check the patient's condition and quickly decide what action to take. You'd make calm and reasoned decisions about the right treatment and care for them.

You would:

  • Use advanced life support techniques, such as electric shocks, to resuscitate patients
  • Carry out surgical procedures, such as inserting a breathing tube
  • Provide drugs and fluids
  • Give medicines and injections
  • Dress wounds and apply supports to broken bones

If you take a patient to hospital you would tell the staff about the person's condition as quickly and accurately.

You'd also keep accurate records of your cases and regularly check the ambulance equipment. You would need to respect patient confidentiality.

You could work on a traditional ambulance as part of a team or alone using a car, motorbike or bicycle. You may choose to work on a helicopter as part of the Air Ambulance Team or to join specialist teams working across a wider range of emergency situations. You'd also liaise with police and fire service crews.

Most jobs are in the National Health Service; see more about the role and conditions when working as paramedic for the Scottish Ambulance Service. You can see more about this role in the National Health Service on ambulance services paramedics on the NHS Scotland Careers website. See the learning and development section for information about career structures, progression and rates of pay.

Working conditions


The emergency ambulance service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You would usually work 37.5 hours a week, including some night and weekend shifts, and bank holidays. Part-time hours are often also available.


You would wear a uniform, which includes protective clothing such as a bright jacket and safety boots. Your work may involve heavy lifting when transferring patients. You are likely to experience some difficult and upsetting situations, including dealing with people under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


You're likely to spend a lot of time travelling to patients in different areas, and taking them to hospital if needed. You'll need a full current UK driving licence including category C1.

UK employment status



Self employed

People behind the job

Meet real people who’ve done this job – hear their stories and the path they took to get there.

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Listening to people
  • Explaining things
  • Taking the lead
  • Caring for people
  • Working with your hands
  • Being physically fit
  • Finding solutions to problems
  • Coping with pressure
  • Planning and organising

Build your skills

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


You need to complete either the Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) in Paramedic Practice or the Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Paramedic Science.

To enter the DipHE in Paramedic Practice you must already be a qualified ambulance technician. You must pass the Scottish Ambulance Service entrance test including a fitness test.

To enter the BSc in Paramedic Science at Caledonian University you will need relevant qualifications and/or experience such as:

  • National 5’s and Highers at BBBC or above
  • HNC in a health or science centered subject, including Human Physiology;
  • SWAP access to Higher Education Health or Science with BBB in the relevant subjects

Other relevant Health and Science centered qualification and experience may be considered, you may be eligible for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) if you have relevant experience but do not have formal qualifications. Contact the university offering the course for further information.

Useful subjects

·         English Higher

·         Maths, National 5 at C or above

·         At least one science subject preferably Biology


You will also need

·         To complete an interview as part of the entry process

·         To be approved for membership of the Protecting Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme run by Disclosure Scotland

·         It is strongly recommended you have or gain a full UK driving license including category C1 (for driving vehicles up to 7.5 tonnes) prior to completing the course. If you gained your driving                 licence before January 1997 you have the C1 category on your licence already.


Helpful to have

Qualifications that show an understanding of health and wellbeing such as:

·         Skills for Work Health Sector (SCQF Level 6)

·         Health and Social Care (SCQF Level 4/5)

·         SQA Wellbeing Award (SCQF Level 3-5)

Experience in care work.

Experience in a driving job, preferably with larger vehicles.