Information on how to become a Paramedic

Many have enquired about 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 (BTech). 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.

You can find the document by clicking on this link:

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 BTech paramedic. We do not yet offer the ECT course. Please consult the list above for a suitable institution.

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.

Basic Ambulance Assistant

This seven week course is the entry-level requirement for a career in the emergency services.

ER24 does not offer the Basic Ambulance Assistant Course.

Please consult the HPCSA website for details of institutions that offer the BAA course. Please click on the link below:

Please contact your chosen institution directly for details on costs and entrance requirements.

Ambulance Emergency Assistant

The AEA course is a four month course that builds on the foundation laid during the BAA course. The entrance requirements are:

  • Matric certificate
  • Current HPCSA registration as a BAA for at least SIX months AND
  • 1000 documented, verifiable hours of patient care experience as a BAA.

ER24 is proud to offer three AEA courses per year. Candidates are required to pass an entrance exam which includes a theory assessment and a CPR and AED assessment. There are a limited number of places available and compliance with the minimum requirements does not guarantee a place on the course. The course is only run from our Academy in Johannesburg and is only presented on a full-time basis.

Please contact the Training Academy for details of the next course and pricing. Unfortunately we are not able to offer bursaries to candidates outside ER24.

Critical Care Assistant

The CCA course is an eleven month course that qualifies successful candidates as an Advanced Life Support paramedic. This intense, demanding course represents the highest level of short course training. The entrance requirements are:

  • Matric certificate
  • Current HPCSA registration as an AEA for at least ONE year AND
  • 1000 documented, verifiable hours of patient care experience as an AEA.

ER24 does not currently offer the CCA course but we are hoping to offer it in the near future. Please keep in contact with the college should you be interested in the CCA course.

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 (PDP). Please note that the minimum age for obtaining a PDP as prescribed by law is 21.

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 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. Their e-mail address is . 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.

Unfortunately we are not able to offer job-shadowing or ride-along shifts. 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 for further assistance

ER24 Training Academy

Paulshof, Sandton, Johannesburg

(011) 319-6575 Office Hours (08:00-16:00)


Also View:

How do I become a Paramedic?

Click to download the Training Brochure

Click to download the ER24 Course Costing

Different levels of emergency personnel

Professional Board For Emergency Care Personnel Accredited Training Centres