To become a qualified ambulance driver in the UK, you must first pass the necessary driving tests in order to drive a vehicle that is greater than 3500kg in addition to the academic qualifications that a paramedic requires.
To take your first steps in becoming a qualified paramedic you must first register with the HCPC (Health and Care Professions Council) and pass a qualification in paramedic science.
Where Can I Learn to Become an Ambulance Driver?
There are two main routes into becoming a paramedic and ambulance driver.
Traditionally, the first route tends to be slightly more demanding with additional studies and longer hours, but the chances of becoming an ambulance driver and paramedic in the future are much greater.
The two routes to becoming a paramedic are:
Completing a Full Time Qualification – You must enrol and complete a full time qualification in paramedic science. This is usually completed at university. On successful completion, you will then be able to apply for a position with the ambulance service as a paramedic.
Become a Student Paramedic – If you’re not the academic type and tend to learn better on the job then you can apply for a student position with the ambulance service and learn while you work.
Which Driving Licence Category Do I Need?
To drive an ambulance, you must legally have the driving licence category on your licence that enables you to drive a vehicle in excess of 3500kg but no greater than 7500kg.
The courses simply cover the manoeuvring, safety and driving capabilities for a larger vehicle and do not cover emergency driving techniques.
Full Time Training Options
As we mentioned previously, in order to become an employed paramedic, you will need to complete a paramedic science qualification.
If you intend on completing a diploma, foundation degree or degree; you will need to have successfully completed two or three A-Levels that include a science.
You will also need to have completed five GCSE’s with grades of A to C, including both maths and science.
However, there are other ways of gaining the required qualifications that include:
- BTEC, HND or HNC which includes a science subject
- A relevant NVQ
- Science or health related access courses
Although having these qualifications puts you in a good position to become a paramedic, it is not always guaranteed. There are a few things that you can be doing to help boost your application:
- Obtain some healthcare experience (paid or voluntary)
- Ask to shadow or complete some free work experience with the ambulance service
The Student Route
The important thing to remember is that each ambulance service is different and they will have their own recruitment and entry requirements.
As well as the ambulance driver training course, most student positions will ask for the following as a minimum:
- 5 GCSE’s at grade C or above that includes maths, English & science
- Equivalent qualification with a high level of health and science content
Unfortunately, if you’re relying on a student position, then I’m afraid to say that the field is extremely competitive as many of the applicants will be well qualified. These are some additional things that you can be doing to ensure you have the best possible chance:
- Maintain a high level of personal fitness
- Develop two years driving experience and maintain a clear licence
- Complete a C1 training course to allow you to drive ambulances