Individuals in Northern California who want to complete paramedic training may choose to earn a certificate or an associate's degree. While degree programs include general education classes, certificate programs concentrate on major classes and may have more strict admission requirements, such as prior certification as a basic EMT. All programs include an element of hands-on training, often in the field, in the form of internships or clinical rotations.
Below, read summaries of the programs available and tuition information for the 10 of the largest schools' programs in Northern California to make an informed decision. All of the schools below prepare students to take the NREMT exam for paramedics.
American River College
At Sacramento-based American River College, aspiring paramedics can pursue a Paramedic Certificate or an Associate in Science - Paramedic degree. The certificate program trains students to provide emergency care outside a hospital setting, both in the field and during transport. Instruction includes both classroom lectures and clinical experience. Students applying to the program must have a high school diploma, EMT-Basic certification and one year of emergency medical experience. The certificate program requires the completion of 36.5-43.5 credits.
The requirements for the paramedic associate's degree program are the same as for the certificate program, but with the addition of general education courses. Examples include classes in humanities, ethnic/multicultural studies, and behavioral and social sciences. The paramedic programs are accredited by the Accreditation Committee on of Educational Programs for the Emergency Medical Services Professions (CoAEMSP).
In Oroville, students can complete a paramedic certificate program or an Associate in Science degree program. The certificate program requires the completion of 35 credits from courses that include a field internship and clinical labs. Additional topics in these classes include incident command and rescue operations for patients in vehicles, and first responder awareness. The A.S. degree program includes the same courses as the certificate program, as well as general education courses. These programs are also CoAEMSP accredited.
California State University - Sacramento
The Sacramento campus of California State University, commonly called Sacramento State University, offers a year-long paramedic training program. Designed for emergency medical technicians who wish to advance to the paramedic level and firefighters who wish to add paramedic certification to their skill list, the program includes three phases. This first is didactic (or lecture) and courses cover topics like patient assessment and management, cardiology, and neurology. Students also participate in a clinical rotation where they gain experience and see what it's like to work in the field. This prepares them for the final section of the program, a field internship with an ambulance company. The field internship is 480 clock hours and requires that the student have 40 contacts with advanced life support patients.
City College of San Francisco
This 2-year college in San Francisco offers CoAEMSP-accredited paramedic certificate and Associate in Science programs. The certificate program includes study of paramedic roles, rescues, and medical treatment in a variety of situations, as well as an internship in which students observe professional paramedics in the field and in hospital settings. Paramedic theory courses cover topics like trauma, drug administration, and pre-hospital life support. The certificate program requires completion of 53 credit hours. The A.S. degree program includes the same courses, as well as general education courses.
College of the Redwoods
Eureka's College of the Redwoods also offers two paramedic programs accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs: a certificate program and an associate's degree program. The North Coast Paramedic certificate program includes three paramedic theory-based courses that build on each other, teaching aspiring paramedics about pre-hospital care and advanced life support. This program also includes a field internship. The A.S. degree program includes the same paramedic theory courses as well as courses in biology and psychology or sociology. The 33-credit certificate program can be completed in one year (including a summer semester), while the associate's degree program typically takes two years.
In Los Altos Hills, students at Foothill College can enroll in a Certificate of Achievement program that includes study of cognitive and affective disorders as well as paramedic specialty rotations. Students complete a paramedic field internship and gain experience in a hospital emergency room during the 6-semester certificate program. Students also learn to assess and treat specific populations, like the elderly or pediatric patients, and patients in traumatic situations. This certificate program requires attendance during a summer session. The college also offers an Associate in Science degree program that includes all of the major-related courses from the certificate program, as well as general education courses.
Fresno City College
At this 2-year public college in Fresno, students can pursue a Certificate of Achievement in Pre-hospital Paramedic Care. Students take a combination of theoretical courses and experiential learning in clinical and internship sessions. The certificate requires completion of 45 credit hours and prepares students for the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians exam. Students learn about basic and advanced life support, treatment of cardiac issues, and care for patients at all life stages.
Las Positas College
Livermore-based Las Positas College offers an 18-month paramedic program that includes courses in pharmacology, cardiac issues, and the treatment of special populations (like children and the elderly). The program is not offered for college credit, but it does prepare students to take the NREMT paramedic licensure exam.
Santa Rosa Junior College
The paramedic certificate and Associate in Science programs offered at this Santa Rosa 2-year junior college prepare students to take licensure and certification exams at the state and national level. The certificate program includes prerequisite courses in human anatomy and recognizing arrhythmia. Students must complete 34 units in theoretical and clinical learning, as well as field internships. The Associate in Science program includes the same courses as the certificate program, but it also covers topics in first responding for a total of 46 units. Current EMT-1 certification is required to enter both programs.
San Jose-based WestMed College offers a Paramedic Certificate of Achievement. Students in this program learn techniques in airway management, treatment of pediatric patients, and response in traumatic situations and medical emergencies. A paramedic field internship of 480 clock hours is also required. In the didactic portion of the program, students learn about operations in clinical settings, like labor and delivery, critical care units, and an operating room.
To work as a paramedic in California, an individual must complete a paramedic training program, undergo criminal background checks at the state and federal levels, and pass the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians (NREMT) exam. In Northern California, there are about 15 schools and colleges that offer training programs that prepare students to become licensed paramedics.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Paramedic Degree Programs, Certificates and Courses Offered||Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)|
|American River College||2-year, public; large suburb|| Paramedic Certificate
Associate in Science - Paramedic
| $1,104 (in-state)
|Butte College||2-year, public; distant rural||Certificate of Achievement in EMT-Paramedic
Associate in Science in EMT-Paramedic
| $1,364 (in-state)
|California State University - Sacramento||4-year, public; large city||Paramedic program|| $6,872 (in-state)
|City College of San Francisco||2-year, public; large city|| Paramedic Certificate of Achievement
Associate in Science - Paramedic
| $1,598 (in-state)
|College of the Redwoods||2-year, public; rural fringe|| North Coast Paramedic Certificate
Associate in Science - North Coast Paramedic
| $1,142 (in-state)
|Foothill College||2-year, public; large suburb|| Paramedic Certificate of Achievement
Paramedic Associate in Science
| $1,551 (in-state)
|Fresno City College||2-year, public; large city||Certificate of Achievement in Paramedic Pre-hospital Care|| $1,194 (in-state)
|Las Positas College||2-year, public; rural fringe||Paramedic Program||$3,682.00 to $5,682.00 (total program cost estimate)**|
|Santa Rosa Junior College||2-year, public; midsize city|| Paramedic Certificate of Achievement,
Associate in Science in Paramedic
| $1,318 (in-state),
|WestMed College||< 2-year, private not-for-profit; large city||Paramedic Certificate of Achievement||$19,000 (total program cost)***|
Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **Las Positas College, ***WestMed College