How to become a police officer


It takes a wide range of skills and abilities to become a police officer, otherwise known as police constable. This step-by-step guide will take you through how to become a police officer in the UK.

What is a career as a police officer like?

Early in your career, you are likely to start out as a police constable. Your responsibilities could include:

  • Maintaining public safety - for example, responding to emergencies.
  • Protecting and reassuring communities - this could mean patrolling areas and speaking with members of the community.
  • Preventing and investigating crimes - this includes gathering evidence.
  • Upholding the law - by making arrests, issuing fines and warnings and attending court.

You will also be required to keep records and do some administration work.

What skills do I need to become a police officer?

What are the training routes available?

There are several routes you can take to get a job as a police officer.

A Professional Policing degree will equip you with the skills you’ll need. Our BSc (Hons) Professional Policing degree course is designed to prepare you for a career as a police officer.

We have created our course with the College of Policing and teaching is delivered by a mix of academics, serving and former police officers. That means you can learn from people with real-world experience.

It will put you in a perfect position to apply for probationary constable roles in the police force of your choice. Or you could apply for one of the other roles mentioned below.

What is the application process?

Once you have decided your route and are ready to apply with your chosen police force, here are the steps that you'll take to apply:

  • Eligibility check
  • Application form
  • Assessment
  • Online assessment
  • Medical and fitness tests
  • Pre-employment and vetting checks
  • Decision

What type of roles can I progress on to?

You can progress into different roles and careers from here. For example, with experience and training, you could become a detective or sergeant. Or you could move into a specialised area such as firearms, cybercrime, drug squads or traffic units.

If you have a degree in policing, there are lots of other exciting areas where you could find employment. These include, but are not limited to:

  • British Transport Police
  • UK Border Agency
  • Civil Nuclear Constabulary
  • HM Prison Service

For a full list, see our policing page.

Whichever route you take, being a police officer can be challenging and demanding. However, for those with a passion for public service and a desire to make a difference, a career in the police force can be highly fulfilling.