What is an Ambulance Paramedic?

In Australia, Ambulance paramedics are predominantly employed by State run ambulance services to provide services to hospitals, clinics, doctors surgery’s etc. These paramedics are highly trained and are generally the first emergency health care professionals to arrive on the scene of an emergency.

Pathways to becoming a State Ambulance Paramedic.

  1. Study part time for around 18-24 months and gain nationally recognised qualifications to become an Advanced Care Paramedic/Medic – then go to university
  2. Got to university full time for 3 years and get your Bachelor degree in Paramedic Science

Both of these options have their benefits – it all depends on your circumstances.

University pathway

If you have the time and money, the university option is an accepted pathway. Taking this option means committing to 3 years of study, agreeing to attend lectures on campus (where applicable), with clinical assessment and placements to develop your theoretical knowledge as well as gain supervised clinical placement.

As a degree-qualified Paramedic, graduates are eligible to apply to a State Ambulance Service where they can be employed as a student Paramedic and work along side a qualified Paramedic for a probationary period; usually 12 months.

Vocational training (non-university)

If university is not an option, then the other choice is to gain Nationally Recognised qualifications in pre-hospital emergency health care. The highest qualification is the HLT51020 – Diploma of Emergency Healthcare. The graduate of this course are classed as an Advanced Care Medics, which when completed, graduates are classed as an Advanced Care Paramedic/Medic. As a side note, in Queensland, the Queensland Ambulance Service Clinical Scope of Practice has been used as a benchmark for APC diploma-qualified graduates who wish to actively pursue a career in emergency health care. APC mapped it’s diploma scope and found it to be equivalent to 60% of that of the scope of a QAS Paramedic. It’s still not enough to get you a job with QAS, although it does show the diploma is more than an entry-level course.

At this level, graduates can access a large jobs pool in the private sector; and choose from a variety of industries including, mining, oil & gas, industrial, construction, aviation, maritime and a whole lot more.

Whilst diploma study involves comprehensive and thorough training program, it is not delivered to the standard of a degree, although it is becoming more and more popular for many people to complete the diploma, then use this qualification as an entry pathway into a Bachelor of Paramedic Science.

Traits of a good Paramedic

Many people dream of becoming a Paramedic/medic because they identify with themselves the same personality type. They have high levels of compassion and empathy towards others and above all, Paramedics practice non-judgement and accept every human as being as deserving as the next.

  • The number one trait of a paramedic is his/her desire to help people in need
  • aramedics possess a natural ability to stay calm under extreme pressure and in intense situations
  • A good paramedic must have an abundance of compassion
  • A smart paramedic must also be assertive and be able to take control of a situation without being egotistical
  • You will need to be fit and agile to deal with every scenario that presents itself
  • A paramedic also must enjoy the rush of adrenaline
  • Quick thinking and smart decision making are the mark of a great paramedic
  • You must be willing to get very little sleep in some instances
  • A paramedic must be able to deal with pressure and stress

Duties and tasks

  • Access patients conditions and complete specialised medical treatment and care before hospital admission
  • Collaborate effectively with other emergency services personnel
  • Making decisions whether and how to move patients
  • Make complex hospital transfers when necessary
  • Document patients conditions and prepare hospital triage staff for arrival handover
  • Meet patients medical needs by resuscitating and stabilising them if necessary
  • Use complex life support techniques, administer oxygen, drips, and medical drugs where required


Working conditions

Ambulance Paramedics who are employed by a State Ambulance Service can work in part-time or full-time roles; and be required to work day and night shifts as well as weekends. Paramedics can often work long hours dealing with any emergency call out that comes their way. They are always on call becasue the nature of the job is unpredictable; with many shifts extending into another. For those who thrive on the adrenaline and unpredictability of this rewarding profession, the opportunities are limitless.

Salary expectations

Paramedics rarely do it for the money. The overwhelming majority do it because of the immense satisfaction gained by being the one who can help make a positive difference in a total strangers life. For Paramedics and medics in the private sector, earnings could be higher because of overtime and extra payments working in remote locations, or on mine sites, or oil & gas installations etc.

  • Starting salary: $50,000+ per year
  • Average salary: $61,000+ per year
  • Senior salary: $89,000+ Salaries vary according to skill
  • Average weekly hours: For a full time Paramedic (Ambulance) is around 38.1 hours per week.

Paramedic pathway training courses

  • HLT41120 – Certificate IV in Health Care
    12-18 months course (average completion time). Graduate as a Basic Life Support Medic. Jobs in the private sector as an Ambulance Officer,
    Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Emergency Patient Transport Officer, Industrial medic (mining, construction, manufacturing, oil & gas)
  • HLT51020 – Diploma of Emergency Health Care
    18 – 24 months course (average completion time). Graduate as an Advanced Life Support medic. Be qualified to take on jobs in mining, oil & gas, construction, manufacturing, hospitality, security and industrial. Emergency medical support at airports, transport organisations, sea-going vessels, merchant navy etc.


What is your career journey?

To discover how you can become a fully qualified Ambulance Paramedic or Basic/Advanced Life Support Medic, complete a personalised paramedical career development plan.