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Become a Paramedic in CA: Information and Requirements

There are about 30 schools within California that have paramedic programs. Read an overview of 10 of the largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

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Essential Information

Several 2-year colleges in the state of California provide education for aspiring paramedics. Students can earn either certificates or associate's degrees that prepare them to enter or advance within the profession. Applicants should have CPR certifications and, depending on the level of the program, work experience may be required for admission. While enrolled, students participate in clinical practice and field internships that allow them to gain hands-on expertise. The program offerings in California include:

  • Paramedic
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Emergency Medical Services - Paramedic Studies
  • Emergency Medical Technology and Paramedic

Career Requirements

Paramedics in California must be licensed by the state. California uses the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians - Paramedic (NREMT-P) exam for licensing purposes. The state also requires students to complete paramedic programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP). All of the schools profiled below are CAAHEP-accredited, and the comparison table at the end shows relevant programs and school tuition info.


American River College

This Sacramento school offers 2 types of paramedic programs. To enroll in either of them, students must have a high school diploma or its equivalent, a C grade in prerequisite coursework and EMT - Basic (EMT-B) certification with 1 year of verifiable experience. The certificate can be earned by completing 36.5-46.5 units of study. To earn the associate's degree, students augment their training with general education courses to bring their total to 60 units of study. Courses are taught through classroom study, clinical practice and field internships.

  • Programs Offered: Paramedic Certificate,
    Associate of Science - Paramedic
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,104 in-state; $7,200 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large suburb

Butte College

At this Oroville school, students may earn either a Certificate of Achievement in Emergency Medical Technology/Paramedic or an Associate of Science in Emergency Medical Technology/Paramedic. Successfully completing either of these programs will qualify students to take the NREMT-P exam. EMT certification must be presented to be accepted into the programs. While it isn't required, the school does encourage students to gain practical experience as an EMT before beginning their studies. The paramedic core curriculum is comprised of 7 courses, 2 of which have prerequisites. Additional classes are required to earn the associate's degree.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Emergency Medical Technology/Paramedic,
    Associate of Science in Emergency Medical Technology/Paramedic
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,334 in-state; $6,134 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; distant rural

City College of San Francisco

This San Francisco institution has certificate and degree programs for prospective paramedics. Both programs require students to have a high school diploma or GED, CPR certification, a CA driver's license and EMT-B certification, preferably with 3-6 months of ambulance experience. Full-time students can earn the certificate in 5-6 semesters or the associate's degree in 6 semesters, including summer study. Students are taught advanced skills in patient assessment, airway management, cardiac life support, pediatric care and other related pre-hospital care essentials. Final student assessments take place during a field internship. Successfully completing either program qualifies students to take the NREMT-P exam.

  • Programs Offered: Paramedic Certificate,
    Associate of Science in Paramedic
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,238 in-state; $6,270 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large city

Foothill College

In this Los Altos Hills school, Foothill College students can earn a paramedic Certificate of Achievement or Associate in Science. To enter either of these programs, a student needs EMT certification and at least 6 months of full-time experience or a comparable part-time work history. The core program requires 12-18 months of study and includes lectures, clinical rotations in hospitals and a field internship. The certificate can be earned by finishing 56.5 units of study. Students who want an associate's degree must earn an additional 40 units.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Paramedic,
    Associate in Science in Paramedic
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,536 in-state; $6,351 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large suburb

Mt. San Antonio College

This school in Walnut, California, also offers both certificate and degree programs. Students will need to have a reliable form of transportation for these programs because some of the fieldwork and clinical instruction sites may be up to 50 miles away from campus. The associate's degree can be earned by students who complete the certificate curriculum plus a series of general education classes. The programs are open to those with current EMT-B certification and EMS-agency verification that the prospective student has performed at least 1,200 hours of pre-hospital field work, including transportation experience. The program begins with a pre-course, after which final program entry is determined. Students are strongly encouraged to study their foundation EMT materials before the class begins.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Completion as an Emergency Medical Technician - Paramedic,
    Associate in Science in Emergency Medical Services
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,164 in-state; $6,060 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large suburb

Palomar College

Students at this San Marcos institution will find a 2-semester training program that begins with classroom instruction, progresses through hospital clinical practice and is completed through a field internship. Prospective students must undergo testing and an interview as part of the admission process. Students will also need to show current EMT-B certification and proof of at least 6 months of paid, full-time EMT work experience. Background checks and drug testing must be completed before students start the clinical portion of this program.

  • Programs Offered: Emergency Medical Technician - Paramedic training program
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,328 in-state; $5,224 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; small city

Saddleback Community College

Students attending this Mission Viejo college may find the Emergency Medical Services - Paramedic program best suits their needs. Admission to the program requires students to have their EMT-B certification and 1 year of experience working in an emergency response vehicle. The school recommends students complete studies in paramedic preparation, medical terminology and cardiac dysrhythmias before starting the paramedic program. The program is presented through a total of 3 classes.

  • Programs Offered: Emergency Medical Services - Paramedic
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $762 in-state; $4,694 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large suburb

Santa Rosa Junior College

There are certificate and degree program options for future paramedics at this junior college in Santa Rosa. A certificate can be earned through a 39.3-unit program that includes 3 prerequisite courses. To participate in the certificate program, students must have a high school diploma or GED and current EMT-1 certification, as well as meet program health standards and complete background checks. To earn an Associate of Science in Emergency Medical Technician - Paramedic degree, students complete 46 units of core studies, and all classes must be taken sequentially. The associate's program has the same admission requirements as the certificate program. Successfully completing the programs qualifies students to take the NREMT-P exam.

  • Programs Offered: Emergency Medical Technician - Paramedic Certificate,
    Associate of Science in Emergency Medical Technician - Paramedic
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,278 in-state; $6,652 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; midsize city

Southwestern College

Another school with both certificate and degree programs can be found in Chula Vista. Both of these programs require students to first complete 3 prerequisite courses. The core of the paramedic program classes are spread out over 3 semesters, including a summer session that involves clinical practice and field training. To earn an associate's degree, students must take an additional 10 units of general education classes. Students who already have paramedic certification and want to earn their associate's degree may be eligible to earn up to 35 units of credit for past experience.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Emergency Medical Technology and Paramedic,
    Associate in Science Degree in Emergency Medical Technology and Paramedic
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,334 in-state; $6,654 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large suburb

Ventura College

This Ventura school offers students the opportunity to earn a Certificate of Achievement in Emergency Medical Services - Paramedic Studies or an Associate in Science in Emergency Medical Services - Paramedic Studies. To enroll in either of these programs, students need to complete a series of prerequisite courses or pass placement exams. Prospective students will also need to have basic EMT certification along with a minimum of 6 months of full-time experience with an emergency response provider. Once admitted, students have to earn at least a B in all paramedic courses to complete the program successfully. General education courses are needed in addition to the paramedic core studies to earn the associate's degree.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Emergency Medical Services - Paramedic Studies,
    Associate in Science in Emergency Medical Services - Paramedic Studies
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,338 in-state; $7,050 out-of-state*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; midsize city

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type and Setting Paramedic Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2012-2013)
American River College 2-year, public; large suburb Paramedic Certificate,
Associate of Science - Paramedic
$1,104 in-state; $7,200 out-of-state*
Butte College 2-year, public; distant rural Certificate of Achievement in Emergency Medical Technology/Paramedic,
Associate of Science in Emergency Medical Technology/Paramedic
$1,334 in-state; $6,134 out-of-state*
City College of San Francisco 2-year, public; large city Paramedic Certificate,
Associate of Science in Paramedic
$1,238 in-state; $6,270 out-of-state*
Foothill College 2-year, public; large suburb Certificate of Achievement in Paramedic,
Associate in Science in Paramedic
$1,536 in-state; $6,351 out-of-state*
Mt. San Antonio College 2-year, public; large suburb Certificate of Completion as an Emergency Medical Technician - Paramedic,
Associate in Science in Emergency Medical Services
$1,164 in-state; $6,060 out-of-state*
Palomar College 2-year, public; small city Emergency Medical Technician - Paramedic training program $1,328 in-state; $5,224 out-of-state*
Saddleback Community College 2-year, public; large suburb Emergency Medical Services - Paramedic $762 in-state; $4,694 out-of-state*
Santa Rosa Junior College 2-year, public; midsize city Emergency Medical Technician - Paramedic Certificate,
Associate of Science in Emergency Medical Technician - Paramedic
$1,278 in-state; $6,652 out-of-state*
Southwestern College 2-year, public; large suburb Certificate of Achievement in Emergency Medical Technology and Paramedic,
Associate in Science Degree in Emergency Medical Technology and Paramedic
$1,334 in-state; $6,654 out-of-state*
Ventura College 2-year, public; midsize city Certificate of Achievement in Emergency Medical Services - Paramedic Studies,
Associate in Science in Emergency Medical Services - Paramedic Studies
$1,338 in-state; $7,050 out-of-state*

Source: *National Council for Education Statistics College Navigator.

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