Ambulance Driver: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for ambulance drivers. Get the facts about salary, employment outlook and training requirements to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Ambulance Driver?

An ambulance driver operates ambulances, which are vehicles that transport ill or injured patients to medical facilities like hospitals or clinics. They may also help with the lifting of patients into the vehicle. Once the patient is on board, the ambulance driver drives quickly and carefully in order to ensure that the vehicle reaches the destination safely. It is important to note that some ambulance drivers also have EMT or paramedic training, so they may assist with patient care before driving the ambulance to the hospital.

Below, you can get information about that education that's needed to work as an ambulance driver. Find out about the licensure requirements, along with employment outlook and salary info.

Training Required Emergency medical training
Key Skills Alertness, problem-solving, physical stamina, critical-thinking
Licensure Emergency medical technician licensure may be required; all ambulance drivers need a valid driver's license
Job Growth (2014-2024) 33% (for all ambulance drivers and attendants)*
Median Salary (2015) $23,740 (for all ambulance drivers and attendants)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Might My Responsibilities Be as an Ambulance Driver?

Your primary responsibility would be driving emergency vehicles in order to transport injured or ill patients to hospitals or other health care facilities. Other tasks might include stocking ambulance supplies, communicating via radio with various medical personnel, loading stretchers into ambulances and maintaining the sanitary conditions of your vehicle. You also might be called upon to report the facts of a transport situation to hospital emergency room staff or law enforcement representatives.

How Do I Become an Ambulance Driver?

Some states require that you obtain special licensing or a permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before you can drive an ambulance. For example, California offers an Ambulance Driver Certificate through its DMV. Generally, you'll need to be 18 years or older to apply for a license, and you may need to pass a written exam. Also, you should be in good standing with the DMV.

Do I Need Emergency Medical Certification or Training?

You don't always need emergency medical training in order to drive an ambulance. However, some states require that you obtain emergency medical technician (EMT) licensure. To become a basic EMT, you can complete training through a community or state college. These programs usually last several months. You also could check with the health services department in your state or county for alternative training programs. Once you've completed the necessary training, you'll need to apply for licensing. While requirements vary by state, most require passage of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians EMT Basic/EMT exam.

How Much Could I Earn?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2015, ambulance drivers made a median salary of $23,740 (www.bls.gov). Ambulance driver work also can be voluntary. Employment in the field was expected to grow 33% between 2014 and 2024.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are looking for a job as a driver, you could also consider becoming a heavy truck driver. Instead of driving short routes, like ambulance drivers, they operate trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds that carry goods for long distances, such as between states. Aspiring truck drivers need to have a high school diploma and complete a professional training program. Alternatively, if you would rather work in emergency services, you could get a job as a dispatcher. Dispatchers answer 911 calls and respond to alarm systems by sending ambulances, fire trucks and/or police officers to the scene, depending on the nature of the emergency. The minimum educational requirement is a high school diploma.

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