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Career Advice

How to become a police officer

How to become a police officer

Following in the footsteps of the last two weeks where we have examined the steps required to working in two of the public sector’s most important roles, it Police-Officerseemed natural to conclude the trilogy with the final emergency service. The ranks of Bobbies whose job it is to protect and serve is one which provides demonstrable opportunities for career advancement and comes with, most of the time, a healthy respect from the community.

Qualifications (UK)

As with the fire service, no formal qualifications are needed to get into the police service. Likewise however, you will need to pass a series of written tests. This will include working with numbers and passing a verbal reasoning exam. Obviously all police forces will be looking for well rounded individuals so strong grades from school and/or university will definitely be a bonus.


Depending on where you live, experience for the police force may not be possible. Where it is however, volunteering as a Police Cadet has the potential to give insight into the daily working life and will positively affect your application. Other experience which may be fruitful for applications includes volunteering with community events, self defence qualifications, I.T. skills or employment in a security capacity.

Type of person

The ideal police officer will have a desire to help their community, the ability to work effectively with a diverse team and have a proven capability to maintain rational under duress. Much like the other two members of the emergency services, police officers have a huge amount of responsibility. They are, at the end of the day, the public’s first line of defence should their lives or situations become threatened. A strong will would also be helpful. Many officers have to deal with particularly unsavoury individuals or groups. In this sense, potential officers will need to be able to respond well to possible threats, blackmail or harassment – all the while, keeping a composed demeanour. There is also, on most forms, a warning regarding corruption. Officers are privy to sensitive information and temptations, whether from media, criminals or judiciary. Finally, while previous convictions will be considered on an individual basis, some convictions permanently prevent you from being accepted, including rape, murder, treason and abduction.

Skills to become a police officer

Police officers require a multitude of skills to pass the rigorous exams, let alone to then be a good constable.  The first and most obvious requirement is to be physically fit. Officers are expected to spend the duration of their day carrying a significant amount of equipment and may have to give chase or restrain suspects while doing so. Tests for fitness include upper body strength tests that require an average push strength of at least 34kg and pull of 35kg. This is followed by an endurance test, requiring you to keep up with a bleep test on a 15 metre track.
As well as the physical necessities, a community focus is essential. The entire goal of police officers is to make the wider community as safe as possible. As such, you will be required to prove that you have a genuine passion for your locality and a sincere desire to help it. Other skills will include retaining a calm and confident demeanour for emergencies, as well as being able to act assertively when events require it. This in turn however has to be balanced with sound judgement, obvious tolerance and a respect for diversity. Diplomacy may not seem like an obvious requirement for the average officer, but the reality is that disputes need more than just physicality to resolve them.

How to become a police officer

Again, this will depend upon where in the U.K. you live. The official governmental police recruitment website provides a multitude of documents which outlines the steps to becoming an officer. Your best bet though is to visit your local force’s website and check whether they’re currently recruiting. Before you do that though, just make sure in those documents that you fit the extensive criteria, regarding age, health, nationality, political history and so on.
Apart from that – good luck and happy protecting and serving!

Ethan Loughrey

Looking for a job, but not too sure what career path to follow? Check out TheEmployable “How to Become” career directory



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