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 and weekends

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.

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.