Police Officers are responsible for maintaining law and order on a local and national level. They will help protect members of the public and their property, investigate crimes and offences, search for missing people, respond to emergency calls, make arrests, attend to accidents and fires, interview witnesses and suspects. They also control traffic and crowds at large public events or gatherings and visit schools, colleges and community groups to give talks on crime prevention.
There are various ways in which you can join the police force:
With a Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship you can earn and learn at the same time and you will end up with a degree in Professional Policing Practice at the end of your three year course.
You'll need to contact your local police force to apply.
You will usually need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent for a degree apprenticeship
You could take a three year degree in professional policing and then apply to a force and follow a shorter on-the-job training programme
University entry requirements may vary but you will usually need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent including English
- and 2 A levels or equivalent
If you already have a degree (in any subject) you could apply for a two-year work based training programme supported by off-the-job-learning. You will earn a graduate diploma in Professional Policing Practice once you've completed your probation.
Alternatively Police Now offers a two year national leadership development programme
'Traditional' Initial Police Learning Development Programme (IPLDP)
Some forces are still offering this option but it is gradually being replaced with the three options above. You apply directly to the force and then undertake a two year programme after which if you successfully complete probation, you become a confirmed Police Constable ready for duties.
You'll usually apply to one police force at a time. If your application is successful, you'll be invited to an assessment centre where you'll:
- have an interview
- take written tests
If you pass the tests at the assessment centre you will then need to:
- complete a physical fitness test
- have a medical including eyesight check
- enhanced background check
If you are aged 13 to 18 you could become a police cadet
You could work as a police community support officer before applying for police office training. PCSO's are paid positions.
You could volunteer as a special constable which will give you a taste of what it is like.
The College of Policing has more information on careers in the police service.
Career Path and Progression
You'll spend 2 years as a student officer before becoming a police constable. You'll then decide whether you want to specialise in a particular area of policing. You could consider:
- Criminal Investigation Department (CID), anti-fraud or road traffic
- drugs or firearms
- air support or underwater search
- dog-handling or mounted policing
With experience you may be able to apply for promotion to sergeant, inspector, chief inspector or higher.
In the CID you'll also have the title of detective added to your rank - for example, detective sergeant or detective chief inspector.
Related careers you may be interested in:
- Police community support officer
- Criminal intelligence analyst
- Fingerprint officer
- Neighbourhood warden
- the ability to communicate clearly and confidently (in sometimes dangerous situations)
- excellent team working abilities
- tact, diplomacy and respect
- to be able to remain calm in challenging situations
- a good level of fitness
- a firm but tactful approach
- the ability to react quickly in unexpected situations
- to be able to give and receive instructions
- courage and initiative
£21,000 to £41,500