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 approved by the Contra Costa County EMS Agency and has been issued a Letter of Review (LoR) by the Committee on Accreditation for the EMS Professions (CoAEMSP). The LoR does not indicate CoAEMSP accreditation; however, it demonstrates that the program has met sufficient compliance with the accreditation standards to conduct paramedic training. The LoR is recognized by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) for eligibility to take the national paramedic certification exam.  

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 (2021): 

  • First-time NREMT cognitive paramedic exam pass rate: 100%
  • NREMT psychomotor skills exam pass rate: 100%

Paramedic Program Retention and Placement (2021):

  • Paramedic Student Retention Rate (2021): 33.3%
  • Positive Placement Rate (2021): 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, are 75% as of the annual report for 2021.