How To Become A Police Officer

Police Officer

The Job

Police officers prevent and investigate crime, keep the peace, step in to prevent anti-social behavior and help members of the public who are in distress.

Good team work is essential to this role as police officers need to work in close partnership with many sectors of society including the criminal justice service, schools, health trusts, local businesses, community groups and local councils. They also work closely with the other emergency services, especially at the scene of an accident or crime.

A police officer’s duties are extremely varied and will depend on which of the UK’s police forces you apply to. During initial training, your duties could include going out on patrol, attending public meetings, responding to emergency calls, liaising with community groups, conducting preliminary investigations, taking statements, arresting people and preparing crime reports.

Annual Salary

Police Officer Salary

Minimum Education Level

Level: Level - Entry

Minimum Qualifications

There are no formal educational requirements to become a police officer, but you will have to pass several written tests. It will help to have GCSEs in English and maths at grade C or above (Level 2).

Recommended Qualifications

Applying to become a police officer is a three-step process.

Step 1: apply to one of the 43 UK police forces (you can only apply to one force at a time). Once you have applied you will receive an application form.

Step 2: If you meet the competence and eligibility criteria you will be invited for an interview and a fitness test at an assessment centre.

Step 3: The next step is a background check, which includes references, your background, medical and eyesight checks and security vetting. Depending on the force you apply to, there may be additional assessments, including a second, more in-depth interview.

If you meet all the assessment and eligibility criteria you will then spend two years as a student police officer, during which time you will learn about policing skills, the law, investigative methods, community working and professional standards.

Further information on recruitment processes is available from the Police Recruitment website -

Average Working Hours Per Week = 40 hours a week


Common Working Pattern

Common Working Pattern

Time Taken To Qualify

2 years

What Next/Career Development

Once you have qualified as a police constable you could work your way through the ranks to become a sergeant, an inspector, a chief inspector or even higher. You could also take further training and work in one of the many specialist areas, including fraud, traffic, drugs, firearms, counter-terrorism, air support or dog-handling.

Facts And Figures

There are 43 police forces in England and Wales.
27.3% of police officers are female.
The Metropolitan Police have the largest proportion of ethnic minority officers (10.5%), followed by the West Midlands (8.3%).

(Source: Gov.UK)