How Much Do Paramedics Earn In The UK? (Real Figures)

Updated on: December 3, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

Paramedics play a vital role in the healthcare system, transporting and treating patients from the point of injury to hospital.

Considering their importance to the NHS, how much do paramedics earn?

A paramedic working in the UK will typically earn £35,000 to £42,000 per year. Their salary will depend on their experience, qualifications and location, among a number of other factors. Salaries start at £28,000 for a newly qualified paramedic and progress up to £80,000 for senior management positions.

In this article, I’m going further explore the factors that determine a paramedic’s pay, who some of the highest-paid paramedics are as well as looking at where in the UK you can earn the most.

What Is The Average Salary For A Paramedic?

The NHS uses a banding system in order to determine the pay for lots of different healthcare professionals: from paramedics to nurses to physiotherapists.

Bands range from 2 to 9 with the higher the band the higher the pay.

NHS Pay BandApproximate Initial Pay
2£22,000
3£23,000
4£25,000
5£28,000
6£35,000
7£44,000
8£51,000
9£100,000

Newly qualified paramedics generally start at Band 5, so start out on about £28,000.

This is an approximation as the exact take-home pay for a paramedic is influenced by their shift patterns, training location and contract.

After 2 years of work, however, a paramedic will generally promote to Band 6.

This comes with a significant pay rise to a salary of approximately £35,000.

From here, there are further stepwise increments in pay as a paramedic spends more time and gains experience within a particular band.

For example, with 2-5 years experience in Band 6, a paramedic would get a pay rise to £37,000 progressing to £43,000 after over 5 years in position.

An NHS ambulance on the road

To keep climbing up the career ladder, and further increasing their take-home pay, paramedics will often progress from purely clinical work (actually treating patients themselves) to more managerial roles.

This includes things like transitioning to being a station manager, NHS manager or head of training for other paramedics.

Although, as a rule of thumb, it isn’t always the case- as we’ll see in this next section.

The Highest Paid Paramedics

Paramedics play a vital role in the healthcare system by providing emergency medical care and transport to people in need.

While the average salary for a paramedic in the UK is around £35,000 to £42,000 per year, there are some paramedic jobs that offer higher pay and benefits than others.

Highest Paid Types Of Paramedic Pixel Infographic

Here are some of the highest-paid paramedic jobs in the UK:

  1. Advanced Paramedic Practitioner (APP): An APP is a highly trained and experienced paramedic who has completed additional education and training to diagnose, treat, and refer patients with a wide range of medical conditions. APPs may work in various settings, such as GP surgeries, urgent care centres, or out-of-hours services, and may earn salaries of up to £50,000 or more, depending on the employer and location.
  2. Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Paramedic: A HEMS paramedic is a paramedic who works in a helicopter or air ambulance to provide rapid medical response and transport to critically ill or injured patients. HEMS paramedics may work for organisations such as the Air Ambulance Service or the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity, and may earn salaries of up to £50,000 or more, depending on the level of experience and location.
  3. Specialist Paramedic (SP): A SP is a paramedic who has specialised in a particular area of healthcare, such as critical care, mental health, or hazardous materials. SPs may work in various settings, such as ambulance services, hospitals, or events, and may earn salaries of up to £45,000 or more, depending on the employer and location.
  4. Consultant Paramedic: A consultant paramedic is a senior paramedic who has achieved a high level of education, training, and experience, and who may lead or advise on clinical practice, research, or education in the paramedic profession. Consultant paramedics may work in various settings, such as universities, NHS trusts, or private companies, and may earn salaries of up to £70,000 or more, depending on the level of responsibility and location.
  5. Ambulance Service Manager: An ambulance service manager is a paramedic who has transitioned into a managerial role, where they oversee the operations, budget, and staff of an ambulance service or a related organisation. Ambulance service managers may require additional qualifications or experience in management, finance, or leadership, and may earn salaries of up to £80,000 or more, depending on the size and complexity of the organisation and the level of responsibility.

It’s worth noting that these are just some examples of the highest-paid paramedic jobs in the UK and that the actual salaries and benefits may vary depending on various factors, such as the employer, location, demand, and competition.

Additionally, it’s important to recognise that these jobs may require additional education, training, or experience beyond the basic requirements for paramedics, and may involve different types of work, such as leadership, research, or education, in addition to clinical practice.

Where Do Paramedics Get Paid Most In The UK?

If you’re a paramedic in the UK, you may be wondering where you can earn the highest salary.

While the average salary for paramedics in the UK is around £35,000 to £42,000 per year, depending on the source, there are some areas and employers that pay more than others.

Here are some of the places where paramedics get paid most in the UK:

  1. London: Paramedics in London tend to earn higher salaries than those in other parts of the UK, with an average salary of £44,000 per year. This is due to the higher cost of living and demand for paramedics in the capital, as well as the presence of some of the top ambulance services in the country, such as the London Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
  2. Rural Scotland: Paramedics in Scotland can also earn higher salaries than those in other parts of the UK, thanks to the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), which offers competitive pay rates and benefits packages. Generally, the more remote a job the higher pay that’s offered in order to attract qualified healthcare professionals to more remote areas.
  3. South West England: The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, which covers Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, and Wiltshire, is another employer that pays high salaries to paramedics. The average salary for paramedics in this area is £40,000 per year, with some top earners making over £58,000 per year.
  4. Private ambulance services: While most paramedics in the UK work for the NHS or other public sector organisations, there are also some private ambulance services that pay higher salaries. Often, to be employed by such organisations, they’ll require applicants to have at least a few years of working as a paramedic in the NHS.

While the highest salaries for paramedics in the UK may be concentrated in certain areas and employers, it’s important to note that the cost of living, demand, and competition for jobs may also vary.

Therefore, it’s important to research and compare different opportunities and factors, such as the location, type of employer, shift patterns, and career progression, before making a decision.

Ultimately, the choice of where to work and how much you earn as a paramedic depends on your individual circumstances, goals, and values.

Factors That Influence How Much A Paramedic Is Paid

There are various factors that can influence how much a paramedic is paid. Here are some of the key factors to consider:

Experience

As with many professions, paramedics who have more experience tend to earn higher salaries than those who are just starting out.

Paramedics completing a training serial with a mannequin

This is because experience can demonstrate a paramedic’s skills, knowledge, and reliability, and may also be required for more senior or specialised roles.

For example, the NHS offers a pay progression scheme that directly rewards paramedics for their years of service and contribution.

Qualifications

Paramedics who have additional qualifications or certifications beyond the basic requirements may also be able to earn higher salaries.

As one example, paramedics who have completed a degree in paramedic science are able to start work with a higher salary compared to students enrolling in a degree apprenticeship program.

Similarly, paramedics who have specialised training in areas such as critical care, advanced life support, or hazardous materials may be in higher demand and able to command higher salaries.

Location

The area where a paramedic works can also influence their salary, as different regions may have different levels of demand, competition, and cost of living.

For example, as mentioned earlier, paramedics in London tend to earn higher salaries than those in other parts of the UK due to the higher cost of living and demand for paramedics in the capital.

However, it’s worth noting that some areas may offer other benefits, such as lower living costs or better work-life balance.

Employer

The type of employer that a paramedic works for can also affect their salary, as different organisations may have different pay scales, benefits, and opportunities for advancement.

For example, paramedics who work for the NHS may have access to a range of benefits, such as pension schemes, sick pay, and training opportunities, but may also face more competition and bureaucracy.

On the other hand, paramedics who work for private ambulance services may have more flexibility and autonomy, but may also have to negotiate their own pay and benefits.

Shift Patterns

Finally, the shift patterns that a paramedic works can also impact their salary, as some shifts may be more demanding or unsocial than others.

For example, paramedics who work night shifts, weekends, or public holidays may be eligible for higher pay rates or allowances to compensate for the inconvenience and disruption to their personal life.

Similarly, paramedics who work overtime or on-call may be able to earn additional income, but may also experience fatigue, stress, and burnout if they work too many hours or have insufficient rest periods.

Factors Summary

Overall, while these factors can influence how much a paramedic is paid in the UK, it’s important to remember that each paramedic’s situation is unique and may involve trade-offs between different factors.

For example, a paramedic who values work-life balance may prefer to work in a rural area with lower pay but less stress, while a paramedic who wants to advance their career may seek opportunities in a busy urban area with higher pay but more competition.

Therefore, if you’re a paramedic, it’s important to research and compare different options, and to prioritise what matters most to them in terms of salary, benefits, location, and lifestyle. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Are paramedics better paid than nurses?

Nurses and paramedics in the UK earn roughly equivalent salaries in the NHS. Both are paid in line with the NHS pay band system, with newly qualified nurses and paramedics both starting at Band 5, equating to a salary of approximately £28,000. Each can then progress up the bands as they gain experience.

What is a paramedic starting salary in the NHS?

A paramedic’s starting salary in the NHS is approximately £28,000 per year. This is equivalent to NHS band 5 pay. After a few years of experience, the majority of paramedics will progress to band 6, which equates to a salary of approximately £35,000 per year.

How much does an ambulance driver earn?

An ambulance driver in the UK will typically earn around £21,000 to £25,000 per year, depending on various factors such as experience, qualifications, location, and employer. It is worth noting that an ambulance driver is not a fully-trained paramedic and so has a lower salary.

Final Thoughts

While it’s possible to earn higher salaries as a paramedic in certain roles, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of each option and to consider one’s personal interests, values, and strengths when choosing a career path.

It’s also worth noting that the demand for paramedics in the UK is likely to increase in the coming years due to factors such as an ageing population, rising healthcare needs and the impact of COVID-19, which may create more opportunities and challenges for paramedics in terms of pay, training, and job security.

Ultimately, choosing a career path as a paramedic requires considering personal circumstances, goals, and values- not just the salaries available and how much money you could earn.

About the author
After studying medicine at the University of Leicester, Dr Ollie now works as a junior doctor in London. His interests include medical education and expedition medicine, as well as having a strong belief in the importance of widening access to medicine.