Police officer

Alternative titles for this job include Policeman, policewoman, police constable

Police officers keep law and order, investigate crime, and support crime prevention.

Average salary (a year)

£21,000 Starter

to

£41,500 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 to 40 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on shifts

How to become a police officer

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly

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.

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

More information

Volunteering and experience

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 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
  • take a physical fitness test
  • have a medical and eyesight test

You can prepare for your application by doing the Certificate in Knowledge of Policing.

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

If you've got management experience you could apply for direct entry as an inspector or superintendent.

If you have an upper second class degree, you could apply for the Police Now Graduate Leadership Development Programme.

More information

Career tips

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

Further information

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:

  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • customer service skills for treating people fairly and with respect
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • leadership skills
  • sensitivity and understanding for dealing with traumatic situations
  • active listening skills
  • negotiation skills for keeping people safe
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could be:

  • responding to calls for help from the public
  • investigating crimes and offences
  • interviewing suspects and making arrests
  • giving evidence in court
  • controlling traffic and crowds at large public events and gatherings
  • giving the public advice on personal safety and crime prevention
  • promoting 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'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
  • 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, 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.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Police Officer Degree Apprenticeship

  • Wage : £20,879.00 Annually
  • Location: Wakefield WF2 0QD

Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship

  • Wage : £24,177.00 Annually
  • Location: Penrith CA10 2AU

Courses In England

PEARSON L3 EXTENDED DIPLOMA IN PUBLIC SERVICES (ARMED FORCES & EMERGENCY SERVICES) FT (NOT L3E)

  • Provider: CHESTERFIELD COLLEGE
  • Start date: 07 September 2020
  • Location: CHESTERFIELD

Public Services BTEC Diploma Level 1

  • Provider: THE WINDSOR FOREST COLLEGES GROUP
  • Start date: 07 September 2020
  • Location: Slough

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