Studying paramedic science

This page provides an overview of the things to consider if you are considering training in paramedic science, what you can expect during your training and your next steps after qualifying.

Paramedics are senior healthcare professionals who are often the first at the scene of an accident or emergency. They work on their own or with emergency care assistants.

paramedic smiling to camera

Applying to become a paramedic

The first step to becoming a paramedic is to take a degree-level course approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). You can search for HCPC-approved courses using our course finder. Applications for full-time courses are made through UCAS

Entry requirements

Entry requirements vary because each university sets its own entry criteria, but you are likely to need at least two A-levels or equivalent qualifications at level 3, plus supporting GCSEs. Courses often specify at least one science or social science subject at A-level. Contact universities directly to find out whether qualifications equivalent to A-levels or GCSEs are acceptable. You may also need a full, manual driving licence and be prepared to gain extra licence classifications in future so that you can drive a larger vehicle and carry passengers.

Financial support while studying at university

You'll be entitled to received at least £5,000 a year towards funding your studies while at university. Depending on your personal circumstances, you might be entitled to more. 

  • Universities will normally expect you to attend an interview. You will need to demonstrate that you have found out about the role of a paramedic and understand what the work and training involves. Because of the nature of the work, placements and work shadowing opportunities in this area may be difficult to organise, so try talking to a paramedic about their role. Experience in a general healthcare setting would also be very useful and may be necessary for some courses. Find out exactly what is required for your chosen courses and get organised as soon as possible. Our film featuring paramedics talking about their role will give you an idea of what life as a paramedic is like too.

    The UCAS website allows you to search for full-time courses and view entry requirements. More detailed information about specific courses can be found in university prospectuses and on their websites.

    An alternative route to becoming a paramedic is to take a part-time qualification whilst working for an ambulance service that has been approved by the HCPC to offer the training.

  • If you’re applying for a university programme leading to a role providing NHS healthcare, you’ll be asked to show how you think the NHS values would apply in your everyday work. Find out more about NHS values.

  • Approved full-time degree courses last for three years (part-time courses take up to five years). Courses combine university study with practical experience in ambulance services and hospitals.

    Although approved courses must meet the HCPC’s standards of education and training, programmes vary in their content, the way they are structured, and how they are taught and assessed. The facilities available and amount of support and supervision may also differ from course to course. Find out more by looking at university websites and prospectuses, attending university open days and contacting admissions staff. 

    See our information about the support available while on your course.

  • After you have passed an HCPC-approved course, in order to practise (and call yourself a paramedic) you must register with the HCPC. If you have an approved DipHE or foundation degree, you may be able to continue your studies to achieve an honours degree.

    Job vacancies for qualified paramedics are advertised on the NHS Jobs website. If you become a member of the College of Paramedics, you may also find jobs advertised in its journal or on its website. General information on looking for work can be found in the Career planning section and under Looking for a job.

    Apart from hospitals, there may be opportunities to be based at health centres, GP surgeries and other settings. As a paramedic you can progress from one grade or band to another. You’ll need some experience in a generalist role first, but you can move into an area that interests you, such as working for an air ambulance unit or gaining promotion as an emergency care practitioner. Progressing in this way can involve studying for further qualifications.

    To remain registered with the HCPC you have to maintain its set standards for your profession. This includes taking part in continuing professional development (CPD).

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