Police careers

Find out everything you need to know about joining the police

​​Police officers detect, prevent and investigate crimes. It is a challenging career that demands a high level of personal integrity and responsibility. You could be based in a police station, or work as a beat officer on foot, bicycle or patrol car.

What careers are there within the police force?

Some of the roles within the police include:

  • Police officer
  • Police community support officer
  • Chief inspector
  • Fingerprint officer
  • Scenes of crime officer

In addition there are four special police forces:

  • British Transport Police
  • Civil Nuclear Constabulary
  • Ministry of Defence Police
  • National Police Air Service

What qualifications are needed to become a police officer?

In 2020 there’ll be a major change to the recruitment process, meaning you’ll need to have at least a degree-level qualification by the time you complete your probation (first two years).

The three entry routes available are:

Degree apprenticeship – You will undertake a three-year degree apprenticeship in professional policing practice whilst working as a police constable.

Degree-holder entry – If you already have an undergraduate degree in any subject you can take this two year pathway. You will work as a police constable whilst studying for a graduate diploma in professional policing practice.

Policing degree – Studying for a three year undergraduate professional policing degree​ at university means you can start your policing career with a shorter on-the-job training programme. 

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 policy community support officer (PCSO) before applying for a policing degree or degree apprenticeship.

How to apply to become a police officer

There are associated recruitment processes required when applying to a particular force, including successful completion of the national police recruitment process (e.g. Police SEARCH / Day One Recruit Assessment Centre) and passing medical and fitness tests, and background and security checks (force vetting) before being appointed as a Police Officer. Before you think about applying, check that you meet the minimum eligibility requirements (see below).

If your application is successful, you’ll have to complete a two-year probationary period known as the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme. From there you can begin to make progress through the ranks (sergeant, inspector, chief inspector, etc). Accelerated or fast-track promotion schemes may be available in your police force.

Am I eligible to become a police officer?

Here are some of the basic eligibility requirements for new police constables, however they can vary between police forces.

  • Applicants must be over 18
  • You must be a British citizen, an EC/EEA national or commonwealth citizen or foreign national with no restrictions on your stay in the United Kingdom
  • If you have a criminal record, certain crimes may mean your application is rejected
  • You should not have tattoos which could cause offence, are prominent, garish or undermine the dignity of your role
  • Applicants will be subject to a financial status check
  • You will need to be in good health mentally and physically and have an eyesight test carried out
  • A valid driving licence is required

What policing courses are available at University of Gloucestershire?

Professional Policing (BSC Hons)

Licensed by the College of Policing, our course is the first approved ‘Pre-Join Degree’ in the South West, ensuring it is delivered to the standards required by the College. It combines academic study with skills training to provide a thorough grounding in the theory and practicalities of contemporary policing. Our criminology courses are in the UK top 20, rank 3rd in the UK for course satisfaction and 7th for graduate prospects according to the Guardian University Guide 2020.

Find out more about Professional Policing (BSc Hons)


Similar courses available include: