Police officer

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

Annual Salary

£19,164 to £41,130

Working hours

37 to 40 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; on shifts

Future employment

There will be 0.2% fewer Police officer jobs in 2027.
In your local area

What's it all about?

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 may need to wear a uniform.

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 can get into this job through:

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

You could get a degree in any subject and apply to:

Alternatively you could self-fund a Professional Policing Degree before applying to join a force. You are not guaranteed a job at the end of the course. Instead, you have to apply for probationary constable roles within 5 years of completing this degree.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

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

You could gain some of the skills and knowledge you need to apply directly or through the degree apprenticeship route by doing a course like:

  • Level 3 National Diploma in Uniformed Protective Services
  • Level 3 Certificate in Public Services
  • Level 3 Diploma in Policing

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

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

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
For more information
Volunteering and work 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 may see this called the traditional entry route or the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP).

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 for the traditional route at Joining the Police.

This route is gradually being withdrawn and replaced by the degree apprenticeship or degree entry routes.

Other routes

If you want to go back into police work, you can find out about options for former officers from the College of Policing or Join the Police.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

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.

Once your training is complete you'll need to pass a probationary period as a police constable. There are clearly defined ranks in the service which you can move through with experience as well as taking additional examinations. There are opportunities 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.

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.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

  • 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
  • active listening skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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