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My job in Belgium: How much does an ambulance paramedic earn?
What is your job?
I am an ambulance paramedic in the 112 emergency district of Liedekerke.
How did you end up in this sector?
I had always been employed in the IT sector, but it was time for another challenge. I had previously driven as an ambulance driver on stand-by vehicles, and was an active member of the Flemish Red Cross. I suddenly decided to get my 112 badge and so it happened.
Do you like your job?
Absolutely. It is a job that you can only sustain if you really like doing it, otherwise you would go insane. Of course, it also has its downsides, such as getting up at night, long working hours, but you take that in your stride. I particularly like the challenging nature of the job, together with the unpredictability. After all, you never know where you are going to end up. But one thing is certain: I do not look at the same four walls every day.
What do you think of your income?
It is a good wage to make ends meet (€2,100 gross, €1,800 net with lunch vouchers and laundry allowance), but we work a lot of hours for it.
Would you change jobs for a higher wage?
Maybe, if it were in the same sector. For me, it’s not just about the money but the total package. It makes no sense to give me €250 more per month, and then send me to work on the other side of the country, for example.
How many hours a week do you work?
A very difficult question, that really depends from week to week. The minimum will still be 48 hours, but it mainly depends on the availability of the volunteers. If they can’t do it, we take that shift and that's how we easily get up to 60 or 70 hours a week. Fortunately, my girlfriend is also a volunteer for the same unit and we see each other a lot that way.
Do you save?
I try to save, but one month can be better than the other. We set aside at least €100 per month from my salary.
Do you think of your pension?
Both my girlfriend and I save for our pensions. The big question is whether it will still exist if we reach that age.
What is your biggest expense?
The rent on our house, without a doubt.
What can you definitely not spend money on?
I'm not a fashion person, so clothing from a certain brand means nothing to me.
What do you gladly spend money on?
When I do not have to work, I like to take trips with my girlfriend. I often get an idea to visit a city and half an hour later we set off.
What would you do it you won the lottery?
There would certainly be some money going to my parents, brother and my girlfriend's family. I would certainly make a number of donations to non-profit organisations that are involved in training assistance dogs and other charities. I might work part-time, but certainly I would not stop being a paramedic - it's too much a good job.