Christopher Coughlin, NRP, PhD

The Field

Paramedics are Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) who have more education and experience, and are licensed to perform more advanced procedures, like intubation, starting IVs, cardiac pacing, defibrillation, and administering a wide array of medications. They usually work within the 9-1-1 system.

You can’t become a paramedic until you’ve been a licensed EMT. So, if you aren’t one, yet, you might want to check out that program, first.

The Outlook

Paramedics are in extremely high demand. They make more money than EMTs, and tend to have even more job opportunities, since they are often preferred to EMTs in settings like emergency rooms and fire departments.

Check out our online Career Coach for more information about work as a paramedic, like how many jobs are available and how much they typically pay.

Our Program

The Contra Costa College paramedic program is a two-day per-week, 16-month program. The program begins in the fall and concludes at the end of the following fall semester (including summer session).  

The first two semesters include intensive lectures and lab components. Next, students move into clinical rotations in the hospital. Students spend about four months working with real patients, including adults, pediatrics, obstetrics, psychiatric, and geriatric patients.

During the final phase of training, students will complete an internship in the prehospital environment running 9-1-1 calls. The field internship typically takes about four months but may be extended as needed. During this time, students gain experience working as a team leader on a 9-1-1 ambulance under the supervision of an experienced paramedic preceptor.

The program is competency-based and includes at least 1,290 hours of lecture, lab, clinical, and field internship content. Upon successful completion, graduates earn 31+ units of college credit and a Certificate of Achievement in Paramedic Studies. Graduates will also be eligible to take the national paramedic certification exam and apply for California paramedic licensure.

Prerequisites for the paramedic program include a high school diploma (or equivalent), a valid California EMT certificate, AHA BLS certification, at least 6 months of EMT experience, college-level anatomy and physiology course, and completion of a paramedic entrance exam.


The Contra Costa College Paramedic Program is operating under the Commission for Accreditation of EMS Programs (CoAEMSP) Letter or Review (LoR). While a program that qualifies for a LoR must still complete the entire process to demonstrate substantial compliance with the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) accreditation Standards, and is not guaranteed an award of accreditation, holding a LoR does signify that the program is making satisfactory progress in the accreditation process. As such, after January 1, 2013, the NREMT recognizes graduates of CAAHEP accredited programs as well as graduates of programs holding a CoAEMSP LoR, as eligible for the national Paramedic certification examinations.

The program’s LoR status was reactivated effective May 1, 2023 following a Voluntary Suspension that was initiated June 20, 2022. Based on CoAEMSP Policy I.B.3.d.1.c “Programs that transition back to the Letter of Review status must submit the Initial Self Study Report (ISSR) no later than twelve (12) months from the date the Letter of Review is approved.” Contra Costa College provided the start date for a new cohort which began August 21, 2023 with an on-time graduation date of December 16, 2024. Therefore, the ISSR will be due by January 25, 2025.

Any dates or deadlines for final approval of CAAHEP accreditation are determined by CAAHEP following receipt of the ISSR, a site visit, and demonstration that the program is substantially compliant with CAAHEP accreditation standards.

For additional information, review the paramedic program application and the paramedic student handbook. You can also contact the paramedic program director at any time.


Paramedic Program National Registry Exam Results:

  • 2022 First-time NREMT cognitive paramedic exam pass rate: 100% (graduates of 2021 reporting year who tested in 2022)
  • 2022 NREMT psychomotor skills exam pass rate: 100% (graduates of 2021 reporting year who tested in 2022)

Paramedic Program Retention and Placement:

  • 2021 Student Retention Rate: 33.3%
  • 2022 Student Retention Rate: No graduates during the 2022 reporting year
  • 2023 Student Retention Rate: 100% (In progress until December, 2024)

Positive Placement Rate:

  • The positive placement rate, as defined by CAAHEP, based on graduates of the paramedic program who are reporting working in either a full-time or part-time position as a paramedic, continuing their education, or serving in the military, is 75% as of the annual report for 2022. Data based on 2021 graduates. No graduates during the 2022 reporting year. 

Paramedic Program Minimum Expectations Statement:

“To prepare Paramedics who are competent in the cognitive (knowledge), psychomotor (skills), and affective (behavior) learning domains to enter the profession.