I Want to Work In … the Emergency Services



PROFILE: Police Officer

INVOLVES: Prevention & detection of crime. Investigating, crimes & incidents. Interviewing suspects. Preparation of prosecution files. Checking premises. Controlling traffic. Maintaining good relations with the public.
EMPLOYERS: All UK Home Office police forces, British Transport Police, Armed Forces (Military Police)
RELATED JOBS: fire officer, Armed Forces, prison officer, customs officer, immigration officer, probation officer.
SATISFACTIONS: Helping the public via detecting crime. Helping in other ways e.g. helping to save life at accident scenes. ‘In the last six months I've stopped one person from jumping off a bridge over the M4 motorway, & another person from throwing herself in front of a train. As a Police Officer you often make a big impact on people's lives.'
NEGATIVES: Unsocial hours. Danger. It is not only criminals who don't like the police: the physical & verbal violence/abuse that groups of drunks, football fans, protestors etc give you as an officer can take some getting used to.
SKILLS: spoken communication, persuading, co-operating, investigating, listening, physical and mental fitness.
ADVANCEMENT: Promotion on merit. Promotion to Sergeant after minimum 2 years as a PC & passing a two stage exam. Promotion from Sergeant to Inspector after minimum 2 years as Sgt. & having passed two part exam. Thereafter, promotion offered when posts become available & you fulfil selection criteria. Promotion prospects for graduates are good, but must be prepared to start at the bottom.
DEGREE: Any degree.
POSTGRADUATE STUDY: Not required for entry, but forces may sponsor Masters study in areas such as criminology or law.
VACANCY SOURCES: See police forces' websites for recruitment information.
TIPS: There are now usually many applications per place for posts as trainee police officers. Potential applicants should contact serving officers & speak with them. Apply early in your final year for any vacancies advertised at that time, as recruitment can be a long process due to security checks etc.
See also the Prospects Occupational Profile www.prospects.ac.uk/links/polofficer


Police recruits 'should work for free' Chief constables try to build support for plans to make police recruits to work without pay, saving up to £50m www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/jul/04/police-spending-training-work-free

How well are police officers paid?

Pay in 2011

Job Entry level salary After 5 years (expected)

Sources: NUT, FBU, RCN, AFPRB, Winsor Review




Police officer












Taken from the BBC article www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12678661

For more information see:

General information

Certificate in Knowledge of Policing

This Certificate was introduced in April 2012 so that police forces could recruit people who have an external accreditation.  The Metropolitan Police already requires applicants for police officer posts to have achieved this qualification before applying and other forces may follow suit. See www.college.police.uk/en/20024.htm for details of this qualification

Police forces

Other sites carrying police vacancies

Other sites related to crime and policing


As a female shopper exited a New York convenience store, a man grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately, and the woman was able to give them a detailed description of the snatcher.

Within minutes, the police apprehended the snatcher. They put him in the car and drove back to the store.

The thief was then taken out of the car and told to stand there for a positive ID. To which he replied, "Yes, officer, that's her. That's the lady I stole the purse from.




PROFILE: Operational Fire Officer


  • Operational duties: fire fighting, road accidents, chemical spillages, etc
  • Maintaining equipment.
  • Responsibilities for watch training, discipline, fitness.
  • Responsibilities for equipment maintenance.
  • Analytical work related with brigade projects.
  • Enforcing fire safety regulations.
  • Promoting fire safety.

EMPLOYERS: local authority fire authorities, airports, army, RAF, large manufacturing companies.
RELATED JOBS: police, armed forces, paramedic.
SATISFACTIONS: Achievement of operational command, helping others, not office bound.
NEGATIVES: Periods of relative inactivity, shift work, sometimes dangerous.
SKILLS: cooperating, practical skills. decision making. Must be physically fit.
ADVANCEMENT: All entrants join the service as recruit firefighters before being employed as operational firefighters. Opportunities for promotion are good, and you can become involved in more specialist duties such as fire safety, fire investigation and research and development
DEGREE: Degree not necessary.
TIPS: Very competitive to enter. Arrange a visit to your local fire station.

See also the Prospects Occupational Profile www.prospects.ac.uk/links/firefighter




PROFILE: Paramedic

Provides medical assistance at accidents and emergencies. Responds to emergency calls. Diagnoses injuries and gives treatment. Drives patients to hospital. Reports details of patients to hospital staff.
EMPLOYERS: NHS trusts, private ambulance services, armed forces.
SATISFACTIONS: Helping people. Lots of variety.
NEGATIVES: unsocial hours, pay not high, work can be highly stressful. Can sometimes get ungrateful or aggressive patients.
SKILLS: driving, teamwork, caring personality, good under pressure, physical fitness.
TIPS: Lots of competition for jobs. Experience of life saving techniques or with St. John Ambulance or Red Cross helpful.

Getting in

To work as a paramedic you need to either get a student paramedic post with an ambulance trust, or do an approved full-time course in paramedic science. A list of approved courses is available on the Health Professions Council (HPC) site

Student paramedic posts with NHS trusts seem to be rare nowadays, so the more likely route would be an approved course in paramedic science at university.

The minimum qualification required is a diploma in higher education in paramedical science, but many paramedic courses are now at foundation or BSc degree level. Some courses can be taken part-time. All courses contain a lot of work experience with ambulance trusts and in hospitals.

Funding may not be easy if you've already had funding for a first degree: talk to approved course providers about funding opportunities.



Maritime & Coastguard Agency www.mcga.gov.uk

Last fully updated 2012