Starting a career in the police can be one of the best things you’ll ever do. You’ll be able to make a real difference in your community, reducing crimes and making people safer. But being a police officer isn’t for everyone – it’s one of the most challenging careers you can choose, being physically, mentally and emotionally demanding.

You should consider whether you can: 

  • Deal with the complex and sensitive cases, requiring clear reasoning and evidence gathering
  • Think on your feet – problem solving and responding to new challenges
  • Develop new skills as data and technology become ever more important to policing
  • Work well with colleagues as part of an effective team
  • Have great people skills, remaining calm and patient with members of the public, particularly in stressful or volatile situations
  • Handle traumatic situations and be able to communicate information sensitively
  • Be decisive and use your police powers appropriately
  • Give clear and accurate evidence in court
  • Work shifts, nights and weekends (including public holidays)
  • Be flexible about where you work - you might not work in your preferred location

You’ll receive training and support throughout your career to help you manage the demands of policing, but it’s important to be sure that becoming a police officer is right for you.

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Common Questions

Do I need a degree to join the police?

No, there is a degree holder entry route but in most cases, you’ll need a minimum Level 3 qualification such as an A-Level or equivalent. This varies between different forces. The police force you apply to will clearly set out the specific criteria you need to meet on their website.

Will I have to work shifts and weekends?

Yes, there will likely be times when you’re needed for shifts working evenings and/or weekends. Speak to your chosen force(s) if you have a restriction (for example, caring duties) that might prevent you from undertaking particular shifts, as they may be able to discuss alternative options with you.

Do I need a driving licence?

Whether this is essential or desirable will vary by force. Check with the force(s) you are applying to if you don’t currently hold a licence.

Where will I be posted if my preferred force covers a large area?

A number of factors will need to be considered when deploying you on duties, particularly the operational needs of the area. However, you may discuss any restrictions you have with your force and they will do what they can to support individual needs whilst ensuring operational requirements are fulfilled.

Can I volunteer before applying?

Each of the police forces offer a range of different volunteer opportunities. Usually they will have a dedicated area within their careers pages outlining the volunteer options and how to apply. If you can’t find these, it is worth sending an email to the force recruitment team so they can direct you.

Does a criminal record stop me applying?

There are a number of factors to consider here (for example, the severity of the conviction, and how long ago) so there is not a blanket answer to this. Our best guidance is to speak to the force(s) you wish to apply to, to get their advice. The more you can be open and honest about any history you might have, the better and more accurate the advice from the force will be. Find out more about Vetting 

A day in the life

When you’re a police officer, no two days are the same. Discover what a day in the life is like for serving officer Nathan.

View the full video transcript

Male police officer in uniform talks to camera in a car park filled with police cars.

We are the day-to-day police officers that you will see on the street

The reason we do our job is to actually make a positive impact on people’s live and to help catch the bad guys, as it were.

Male police officer stands in front of police car and folds arms behind his back.

I started my career at Surrey Police at 19. I always wanted to join the police.

Male police officer is sat inside the police station in office-like surroundings working on computer.

There are apprenticeship schemes that are now being run that will run alongside your probation, so don’t be put off if you don’t have a degree- there is still a route in to be a police officer.

Male officer and female officer are walking through police car park.

I come into work in the morning and I don’t know what’s just around the corner

Male officer and female officer open car doors and get into vehicle.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next, and I love that sort of excitement and that thrill. It’s a very diverse job. I think if you’re enthusiastic, you’re willing to try new things,

Police car drives out of car park.

You’re willing to speak to people, you’re approachable-

Male police officer in uniform talks to camera in a car park filled with police cars.

I think if that’s something that excites you and is something you think you’d be very good at, then I would say to definitely apply.

Police car drives out of car park.

Police: Make Your Difference logo

Am I eligible to join?

Before you decide to apply, it’s worth checking the basic eligibility criteria you need to fulfil. You should also check your chosen force’s website for a full up to date list of their local criteria.

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