How do I become a Paramedic?

Thank you for your enquiry regarding a career in pre-hospital Emergency Care. The Emergency Services is a rewarding field offering an incredible amount of job satisfaction and personal growth. However, it can be emotionally and physically challenging and the decision to enter the profession should not be taken lightly.

South Africa has a great need for skilled, qualified emergency care providers. The profession has grown enormously over the last 25 years. It can no longer be considered a job, but rather a professional calling. A commitment to patient care, professional integrity and lifelong learning is vital to success in this career.

There are two routes to becoming a paramedic:

University Education:

Certain universities offer a four-year Bachelor’s degree in Emergency Care (BEMS).

Graduates of this programme are qualified as Advanced Life Support practitioners able to provide the highest level of pre-hospital emergency care available.

Entrance requirements and costs may vary according to the institution you apply to. The

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) governs the standards of all medical training in South Africa. Their website contains a list of all institutions accredited to run Emergency Care training.

Please contact the University of your choice for further information on costs and entrance requirements.

A two-year National Certificate is also available, the Emergency Care Technician (ECT) course. This qualification is also offered by certain institutions and graduates will work under the indirect control of a degree paramedic. We do not yet offer the ECT course.

Short Course Education:

The other route to becoming a paramedic is to follow the short course route. There are three levels of qualification:

  • Basic Ambulance Assistant (BAA) – Basic Life Support
  • Ambulance Emergency Assistant (AEA) – Intermediate Life Support
  • Critical Care Assistant (CCA) – Advanced Life Support

The short course education route is progressive. In other words, you need to complete the Basic Life Support level first and progress through each level. It is important to note that you cannot be exempted from any part of the above courses. Current HPCSA regulations do not allow candidates with other qualifications to challenge or obtain exemption from any part of the courses. Currently, the HPCSA does not recognise foreign EMS qualifications. If you have a foreign EMS qualification, please contact the HPCSA regarding the possibility of your qualification being recognised. A matric certificate (or equivalent) is an HPCSA requirement for enrolment in any of the short courses.

Which Route Should I Choose?

This is a personal choice which will depend on many factors including academic performance, finances, location and personal preference. Many candidates who have recently matriculated, have the required academic record and can afford to attend university full-time for four years choose the degree route.

Many others who do not have the means to attend university choose the short course route. There has been a move to discontinue short-course training in favour of university education. The issue is a difficult one, which is both emotionally and politically charged. The latest directive from the ministry of health is that short course training will continue in its current form for the foreseeable future, until further clarity and agreement has been reached.

Gaining Employment in the Emergency Services

There are two major employers in the emergency services industry, namely the government and private emergency services. Minimum requirements are typically HPCSA registration as a BAA, a valid driver’s licence and a Professional Driving Permit (PrDP) for Passengers. Please note that the minimum age is 21 for obtaining a PrDP for Passengers.

There is currently an oversupply of BLS providers in the country. BLS practitioners may need perseverance and commitment to secure full-time employment in the industry. There is a significant demand for ILS and ALS providers. As such, the demand for training in these areas is high.

Please note that the ER24 Training Academy does not facilitate employment and completion of one of our courses does not imply employment with the company.

Should you already meet the minimum requirements mentioned above, please contact our Human Resources department regarding employment opportunities. They can be contacted on 0861 084 124 during office hours. Unfortunately, our company does not offer learnerships or study assistance. Many registered BAA’s volunteer their services in order to obtain the required hours for the AEA programme. For a variety of reasons, ER24 does not have a volunteer programme. Registered professionals may be employed on a part-time basis to fulfil a specific need at a branch. Please contact the branch manager at your nearest ER24 base should you be interested in part-time work. You can also register your CV on to be notified of career opportunities.

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer job-shadowing or ride-along shifts to non-medical professionals. The HPCSA strictly regulates the requirements of persons permitted to be present on an emergency vehicle. Thank you for considering a career in pre-hospital emergency care. Our country is in need of dedicated, skilled people committed to the highest standards of emergency medical care. Should you be considering a career in the emergency services, we are more than willing to consult with you and assist you in your decision. Please feel free to contact us on 0861 084 124 or email for further assistance.

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Information on how to become a Paramedic

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