Being a full-time paramedic within the health service is one of the most varied, challenging and rewarding jobs to be in. While some qualified paramedics are happy to work full-time for their employer, there is an increasing shift towards self-employment in the UK for paramedics, allowing greater flexibility for the worker.
Paramedics are often needed on a self-employed basis for fixed-term contracts, servicing the needs of event organisers. Large events, such as the London Olympics 2012, required a substantial medical staff to be on hand throughout the proceedings. Such contracts can be lucrative and interesting to work on. Agencies usually handle the staffing requirements and would check your qualifications and career history before utilising your services.
Air bases and private air ambulance companies often seek self-employed paramedics to staff helicopters and flights. Most of the work available is part-time and may also involve unsociable hours. However, if you have a head for heights and enjoy travelling, these jobs may provide an interest and excitement beyond that goes beyond that gained in the traditional ambulance paramedic environment.
Self-employed paramedics are responsible for their own tax and national insurance payments. While this can be challenging to a newly self-employed person, a sensible measure is to put aside 30% of your income to pay tax at the end of the year and to cover your monthly national insurance contributions. Any monies that remain after you have paid your expenses are your earnings.
While some cover may be provided to self-employed paramedics who work on events or on a self-employed basis for other companies, it is something that needs to be clarified before you agree to the work. An additional measure that can be worthwhile is to organise your own personal accident insurance. Being self-employed, another useful (but costly) insurance is one which covers your income when you are ill.