How to Become an Ambulance Driver: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Learn how to become an ambulance driver. Research the education requirements, training information and experience required for starting a career as an ambulance driver.

Should I Become a Ambulance Driver?

Ambulance drivers usually work for private ambulance companies and hospitals transporting ill, injured and non-ambulatory patients. Ambulance drivers assist with loading and unloading patients from the vehicle and may be required to administer first aid. Between patient transports, ambulance drivers may assist with duties at the medical facility that they're assigned.

Ambulance drivers must be able to navigate busy streets safely and quickly, without endangering the public or the patient being transported. Drivers must make sure the vehicle is adequately fueled, maintained, cleaned, sanitary and always stocked with medical supplies. They should have good physical endurance and may need to lift patients daily.

Career Requirements

Required Education High school diploma or GED
Licensure and/or Certification State driver's license; Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC) certificate required in some states; a special endorsement on state driver's license may be required in some states
Experience 1-2 years of EMT and/or driving experience, depending on employer
Key Skills Verbal and written communication, critical thinking, decision making, safe driving, active listening, problem-solving, knowledge of word processing, spreadsheet and map creation software, global positioning system expertise, mapping and navigation skills
Additional Requirements Physical stamina; some employers require drivers to have Basic Life Support (BLS) and/or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification
Salary (2014) $24,080 (median salary for ambulance drivers and attendants, excluding emergency medical technicians)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job listings (November 2012), O*NET OnLine

Step 1: Secure a Driver's License

A valid driver's license is a requirement for all ambulance driving jobs, and some states may require a special endorsement on the driver's license to drive an ambulance. Obtaining a license in most states requires taking both a written and a practical (driving) exam. Although not required, a driver education course introduces important safety concepts. State departments of motor vehicles will have the necessary licensing requirements for new ambulance drivers, including on how to study for and take the exams.

Step 2: Attain CPR Certification

Even in states that don't require ambulance drivers to be EMTs, employers often require ambulance drivers to have at least CPR and BLS certification. These 1-2 day courses are available from the American Red Cross and other community resources, such as community colleges. CPR certification is required for most EMT programs.

Step 3: Get Emergency Medical Training

State requirements could include current EMT-Basic licensure. The US Department of Transportation's EMT-Basic National Standard Curriculum outline the scope of these entry-level EMT certificate programs, offered through community colleges and vocational schools. Hands-on training is often included. Graduates must take a written and practical exam from the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) to get national certification.

Step 4: Obtain Driving Certifications

While some employers may provide on-the-job training, prospective drivers may need to complete an ambulance driving or safe driving course and obtain a specialized ambulance driver certificate.

Many employers require their ambulance drivers to have an Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC) certificate, or obtain it after being hired. Based on a curriculum developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, this course combines classroom and practical experience. It covers topics like safe driving, navigation and GPS and legal requirements for emergency vehicle drivers. The course usually requires that the student have 1 year of emergency vehicle driving experience before qualifying for the certificate.

Step 5: Maintain a Clean Driving Record

To maintain employment and advance in the field, it is vital to keep a clean driving record. This includes no moving violations and no traffic violations involving driving under the influence.

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