How to become a police officer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly

University

You could do the Professional Policing Degree run by some universities before applying to join a force.

Alternatively, you could get a degree in any subject and apply to:

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

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College

You could take a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Public Services before applying to the police, although this is not essential.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course

More Information

Apprenticeship

You could start by doing a Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA). It's a 3 year work-based programme that leads to a degree in Professional Policing Practice.

You can apply through your chosen force.

If you want to work in non-emergency response situations you could do a serious and complex crime investigator degree apprenticeship.

In this role, as well as police forces you could also be employed by organisations like:

  • The National Crime Agency
  • Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs
  • The Ministry of Defence

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a degree apprenticeship

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Volunteering

You can get a taste of what it's like to work with the police by volunteering as a special constable.

You could also get paid work as a police community support officer (PCSO) before applying for police officer training.

Direct Application

You'll generally need A levels or an equivalent level 3 qualification, or experience in a related area like the military.

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'll then:

  • complete a physical fitness test
  • have a medical, including an eyesight check
  • go though security and background checks

You can search for forces that are recruiting at Joining the Police

If you're unsuccessful at the assessment stage, you may have to wait a minimum of 6 months before you can re-apply.

Other Routes

If you're a former officer and want to go back into police work, you could return at the same rank or higher through the Police Former Officer entry route.

More Information

Career tips

If you're aged 13 to 18 you could become a police cadet.

Further information

You can find out more about routes into policing from Joining the Police.

You'll need to contact your local police force to apply, as each force has its own recruitment rules.

You can find out more about careers in the police from the College of Policing.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • negotiation skills for keeping people safe
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • sensitivity and understanding for dealing with traumatic situations
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • leadership skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

You will also need to pass a fitness test.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could:

  • respond to calls for help from the public
  • investigate crimes and offences
  • interview suspects and make arrests
  • give evidence in court
  • control traffic and crowds at large public events and gatherings
  • advise the public on personal safety and crime prevention
  • promote respect for people in relation to their race, diversity and human rights

Working environment

You could work on a patrol or at a police station.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and physically and emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career path and progression

You'll spend 2 years as a student officer before becoming a police constable. You can then decide whether you want to specialise in a particular type of policing, for example:

  • criminal investigation department (CID), anti-fraud or road traffic
  • drugs or firearms
  • counter-terrorism
  • air support or underwater search
  • dog-handling or mounted policing

With experience, you may be able to apply for promotion to sergeant, inspector or chief inspector.

In the CID you'll also have the title of detective added to your rank, for example detective sergeant or detective chief inspector.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Police Officer Degree Apprenticeship: West Mercia Police

  • Wage: £21,525.00 Annually
  • Location: Worcester

Police Officer Degree Apprenticeship

  • Wage: £21,525.00 Annually
  • Location:

Courses In England

Public Services - Level 2

  • Provider: BLACKPOOL AND THE FYLDE COLLEGE
  • Start date: 01 September 2021
  • Location: Blackpool

Public Services

  • Provider: UNIFIED SEEVIC PALMER'S COLLEGE
  • Start date: 01 September 2021
  • Location: BENFLEET

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