The opportunities for career progression in the police service are huge. If you are joining as a Police Constable, as most recruits do, you’ll be able to progress up through the following ranks once you’ve successfully completed your probation:

  • Police Constable / Detective Constable – this is the starting rank for police officers. 
  • Sergeant – the first supervisory rank, most sergeants are responsible for a team of constables. 
  • Inspector – uniformed inspectors typically oversee a shift of constables and sergeants. They also take charge of major incidents in their force area.
  • Chief Inspector – this role can vary from force to force but a Chief Inspector often acts as the senior police officer in larger towns, overseeing large teams such as investigations or operations.
  • Superintendent – at this senior management rank, a Superintendent would usually be in charge of a section of a Command. 
  • Chief Superintendent – typically responsible for policing of a geographical area of their force.
  • Assistant Chief Constable – ACCs as chief officers are mainly responsible for a specific function or business area within their police force, for example, Investigation or Operations. 
  • Deputy Chief Constable – they act as deputy for their Chief Constable, handling the running of the force and supporting the Chief Constable. 
  • Chief Constable – these officers are responsible for the effective running of their force. 

Because of its size, the Metropolitan Police has five ranks above the chief superintendent rank – Commander, Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner. 

What could your career in policing look like?

Policing is a vast and varied career choice and, once you’ve successfully completed your probation period, you can also apply to work in a huge variety of roles and specialist units, including:

  • Community policing - covering roles like neighbourhood policing, response policing and roads policing
  • Investigation - ranging from detectives, crime scene investigators and family liaison officers to forensics and domestic abuse investigators
  • Intelligence - roles include surveillance analysts, covert operatives and communications data investigators
  • Operational support - roles range from control centre and custody officers, to specialist roles like dog handler or mounted police, police diver, firearms officer and football spotter

“All the qualities, skills and experience I’ve got from my firearms role and from being a supervisor are completely transferable to being an Inspector”

Sergeant Faith Morgan has had a pretty varied career, including stints with the circus and the prison service before becoming a police officer and then specialising in firearms. Watch her story to see how her career has progressed.

Career pathways

To find out more about ways your career in the police could progress, visit the College of Policing career pathways portal.

Training and support

Starting a career in the police can be one of the best things you'll ever do. But being a police officer can be physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. 

Throughout your police career, you'll receive on-going training, support and guidance to ensure you're fully equipped to do your job safely and confidently. Find out more about training and support.


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