Am I Too Old to Become a Paramedic?

If you’re an older person, and have pondered a career change towards EMS, you may be asking yourself: am I too old to be a paramedic?

Has time passed me by?  Am I too late?

Just like in our previous post about becoming a paramedic if you’ve been arrested, in this question and answer session, we’re going to address a wide range of questions we get asked more frequently.

And yes, one of those questions involves age and career.

So let’s get right into it.

Q) Is there an age limit for paramedic school?

A) First, let’s be clear about too things here, because this can be interpreted as two separate questions.

  1. Yes, there is an age limit for applying to paramedic school.  But it’s a minimum age limit—you usually must be 18 years old to apply to a paramedic program.
  2. With that said, let’s address what some worry most about—a maximum age limit.  If you’re in your 30s, 40s or even 50s, is it too late to become a paramedic?  And the answer is no.  It’s never really too late to train to become a paramedic, but understand that there are major demands of paramedics—regardless of his or her age.

Paramedics are asked to lift heavy equipment and sometimes people.  They’re asked to sit a lot.  Stand a lot.  Reach a lot.

It’s required that paramedics be in shape to be able to walk up and down stairs, and potentially lift a certain amount of weight up and down a flight or stairs, as well.

Paramedics are need to be mentally healthy, have their wits about them, be able to respond swiftly and decisively in potentially perilous situations, and ideally have a good disposition so that you can effectively communicate with patients who may be scared, worried, anxious, or downright defiant and angry.

Therefore, no, there’s no age limit.  It’s not too late to change your career to that of a paramedic.  But you do need to be someone capable of aptly doing the job—regardless of your age.

Let’s get to a few more questions.

Q) Where can I find the courses I need to become a paramedic?

A) Most of the time, the classes needed are offered by local community or junior colleges, though some four-year colleges or even medical schools may offer a course that satisfies the requirement of the state in which you live. Sometimes, local fire or EMS agencies may run their own in-house program that meets their state’s standards, and there are also private medical training facilities in some areas that offer a program of instruction that meets their state’s standards.

Q) How much do these programs cost?

A) It will depend on several factors, including where you take the class, whether you are sponsored by your agency or not, and whether you are considered a “resident” or not by the school offering the course.

If the course is offered by the local community college, junior college, or university or medical school, the course will often cost approximately the same as two semester’s worth of full-time courses, plus books and other materials. This cost varies greatly from city to city and state to state; you will need to contact your local college or university to determine what these costs might be.

The cost of paramedic school may also vary depending on whether or not you are a resident of the county, city, or state in which the school is located. If you are fortunate enough to be working for a local fire department or EMS agency, your agency or department may sponsor you to take the course; this means that they will pay your tuition, books, and fees in exchange for an agreement from you that when you pass, you will work for that agency for a set period of time as a paramedic.

Q) Two semesters of full-time college is expensive. Can I finance it?

A) Often, yes. Almost all public schools will permit you to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which often is also the application for state aid as well (though, not always). Many private schools will also offer similar financing. Check with your school’s financial aid or bursar’s office to get details.

Q) I am a foreign national, and would like to become a paramedic in the United States. Is this possible?

A) Yes, in general. You should inquire with the department responsible for EMS in the state you wish to work in, to get specific information about that state’s requirements. Generally, you will need a valid work visa of some kind, and there are often more requirements.