Ulla Paakkunainen studied singing at the Turku Conservatory with Essi Heinonen and Taimi Airola, and thereafter at the Sibelius-Academy with Liisa Linko-Malmio and Jaakko Ryhänen as her teachers. She passed the diploma examination with the highest credit in 2005, and qualified as a Master of Music in 2006. Year 2009 she gave her Debut Concert.

Ulla Paakkunainen has taken part in various masterclasses, e.g. by Larissa Gergijeva, Tom Krause, Rudolf Bautz, Irina Gavrilovici and Udo Reinemann. Ilmo Ranta, Gustav Djupsjöbacka and Hartmut Höll have been her teachers on the field of  lied interpretation. Since year 2005 she has continued her voice studies in Rome, Italy with Elizabeth Norberg-Schulz. Before the professional studies of music, Ulla Paakkunainen qualified as a medical doctor.

In addition to her own lied recitals, Ulla Paakkunainen has sang the soprano parts in various choral and oratory works (e.g. Bach: Matthäus-Passion and Johannes- Passion, Händel: Messiah, Faure: Requiem, Mozart: Requiem, Missa in C minor, Exultate, jubilate,  Orff: Carmina Burana, Rossini: Petite Messe Solennelle). She has also performed as a soloist with various early music ensembles. Her  roles on opera stage include e.g. Arsena in Der Zigeunerbaron and Adele in Die Fledemaus by J. Strauss;  Valencienne in Die Lustige Witwe by Lehar; Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Zerlina in Don Giovanni,  Despina in Così fan tutte, Servilia in La Clemenza di Tito and Hyacinthus in Apollo et Hyacinthus by Mozart;  Flaminia in Il Mondo della luna by Haydn, Lindora in Le donne vendicate by Piccinni; and The Fox in The Cunning little Vixen by Janáček. In 2017 she sang the protagonist role in operatic play Kitusuon Sofia (Sofia of Kitusuo), composed by J. Panula and E. Jantsikene

In 2000, Ulla Paakkunainen got the second price in the Kangasniemi singing competition. She was a semifinalist of 2002 International Vocal Concours (S’-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands), and of  2003 Concours International de Chant de Marmande (France).