What Does a Paramedic Do? (And How to Become One)

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Working as a paramedic is an exciting and rewarding career path. Learn more about the role of a paramedic in India, what training and education are necessary to start a paramedic career, and more with this comprehensive guide to a career as a paramedic.

[Featured Image]: A woman with short dark hair, is wearing a white paramedic uniform. She has a stethoscope around her neck. She is standing in front of an ambulance at the entrance of the emergency room of a hospital.

Paramedics respond to emergencies, usually via an ambulance, and provide medical care to patients on the scene and on their way to a nearby hospital or medical facility. In India, a paramedic may also be called an emergency medical technician, emergency care assistant, or lifesaver.

A career as a paramedic can be exciting, rewarding, and fast-paced. If you're looking for a healthcare career that requires you to think quickly and allows you to provide life-saving care in the real world, then consider pursuing this important medical position. 

In this career guide, you'll explore the role of a paramedic and what it takes to become one, from education and training to the human skills you'll need to possess to excel at the job.  

What does a paramedic do?   

Paramedics are first responders. When someone is sick, injured, or requires transportation to a hospital or other medical facility, paramedics are members of the emergency medical team that arrives first on the scene to provide care and ensure patients remain in stable condition. During an emergency, paramedics must evaluate the situation, provide any necessary medical care, and then, if needed, continue to provide care in an ambulance or other emergency vehicle to help their patients get to the right medical professionals who can help them further. As a result, paramedics must possess medical and health care knowledge and be physically capable of safely transporting patients to emergency vehicles.

Paramedics may treat all sorts of patients, ranging from those who have trouble breathing to those in a serious car accident. In many cases, a person's life may be at stake. Most paramedics drive or ride along in an ambulance, but some work with critically ill patients in helicopters and airplanes. 

What are the primary duties and responsibilities of a paramedic?

For most paramedics, each day will bring something new. Where you work can also impact your daily duties and responsibilities. On average, your duties may include:  

  • Responding to emergency calls 

  • Evaluating patients at various scenes (such as car accidents, in their homes, or public places) 

  • Providing first aid as necessary 

  • Providing life support as necessary 

  • Transferring patients from the scene to a stretcher and into an ambulance

  • Transporting patients to hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities 

  • Communicating with doctors and nurses about a patient's condition 

  • Keeping comprehensive notes on a patient's condition 

  • Cleaning and maintaining supplies inside an ambulance  

Paramedics may face various medical or trauma situations each day when providing medical care. These might include:  

  • Performing CPR and other cardiac support

  • Taking vital signs

  • Helping someone with a blocked airway by performing quick respiratory procedures

  • Setting up an IV

  • Stabilising head, neck, and back injuries, as well as broken bones 

  • Cleaning and bandaging wounds 

  • Delivering babies in emergencies 

  • Administering medication 

  • Treating an allergic reaction

What qualifications and certifications are required to become a paramedic?

To start your journey toward becoming a paramedic, you'll typically need to pass 10+2 with a science stream, such as physics, chemistry, and biology. After graduation, you will complete a certificate or diploma course in paramedical sciences or a paramedic training programme.

An emergency care assistant certificate or diploma course typically includes classroom training, practical experience, and on-the-job training. You will learn how to respond to emergencies and provide critical care to patients who have been injured, suffering from a medical condition, or in a medical emergency, such as childbirth. 

You might also opt for an emergency medical technician or paramedic training course offered by a healthcare institution or private organisation. You will typically learn medical terminology, patient assessment, first aid, and trauma care to equip you to work as a paramedic.

Getting into good physical condition while training to become a paramedic is also important. After all, you'll need to be fast, and you'll potentially lift people daily.  

To advance in your career within the paramedical field, you could pursue a Bachelor of Paramedical Technology (BPMT). In this course, you will typically choose a specialty, such as:

  • Laboratory technician

  • Radiographic technician

  • Cardio technician

  • Blood transfusion technician

  • Optometry technician

  • Perfusionist

  • Community medicine/health inspector/emergency medical services

How long does it take to train as a paramedic?

A paramedic or emergency medical technician training course typically takes 12 to 18 months.  

What other skills do I need to become a paramedic?

In addition to medical training, you must possess certain human skills to become a paramedic, like working under pressure and making quick decisions. The job is physically and mentally demanding, so you must be strong. Look below at some other essential skills you'll need to possess. 


Compassion is a trait required to work in health care, but it's crucial for a paramedic career. The role of a paramedic is to assess what is often an emergency and determine what type of medical care is required. However, you'll also find that you're dealing with patients and their families who are often scared and upset. The more compassionate you can be when working with them, the better they'll feel.  


Communication is vital for paramedics. First, you'll be working with a team, which might include other paramedics and medical personnel. You may also encounter firefighters, police officers, and other first responders on the scene of an accident. You'll need to be able to communicate with them effectively. You'll also need to listen to and communicate clearly with your patients and their loved ones. Finally, when you transport a patient to the hospital or other medical facility, you'll often have to communicate their condition to the doctors and nurses on the scene.  


Problem-solving is crucial because you will often find someone's life is in your hands. When you take inventory of their symptoms or injuries, you'll need to think quickly and determine the best treatment to keep them stable or even save their lives.

Where can I work once I’m qualified as a paramedic?

Paramedics often work on ambulances. Within the country, a variety of ambulance providers employ paramedics. You might work for:

  • Privately funded hospitals

  • Government hospitals

  • Charities

  • Self-help groups

  • Political institutions and parties

  • Religious institutions

  • Private clinics

  • Trauma centres

  • Air ambulance services

How much do paramedics earn? 

According to Glassdoor, paramedics earn an average annual salary of ₹2,39,220 in India as of March 2024 [1]. Where you work can also impact your salary. For example, paramedics who work in urban areas may make more than in rural communities. Your experience level and the type of employer you work for can also impact how much you earn. 

Career progression

After working as a paramedic, you might advance your career into a related position within the paramedical or medical fields. Typically, you will need further training or education. A few of the many career paths you might pursue include:

  • Operation theatre technician

  • Medical laboratory technician

  • Hospital administrator

  • Radiography technician

  • Physiotherapist

  • Perfusion technician

  • Respiratory therapist

Working as an EMT and paramedic provides you with the human skills and medical background needed to advance in almost any direction in the healthcare field. 

Get started today with Coursera

Ready to start your path to an exciting, in-demand paramedic career? Start by training to become an EMT by gaining foundational knowledge in a cost-effective, flexible course on Coursera. In the University of Colorado's Become an EMT Specialisation, you'll learn to care for stable and unstable patients before they get to a hospital, how to identify time-sensitive diseases, and medical and traumatic conditions that affect both adults and pediatric patients.

Article sources

  1. Glassdoor. “Paramedic Salaries in India, https://www.glassdoor.co.in/Salaries/paramedic-salary-SRCH_KO0,9.htm.” Accessed March 20, 2024.

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