I want to work in Emergency Services (Police, Fire, Ambulance, Coastguard)

Find out how you can start a career in Emergency Services. Here we list potential job roles and some of the leading companies in that sector.

Job roles


Job roles in the Police Job roles in the Police As well as Police Officers, police forces employ civilian staff in a wide range of roles, including:

  • Police Community Support Officer
  • Scenes of Crime Investigators
  • Fingerprint Officer
  • Civilian Investigation Officers (CIOs)
  • Police Intelligence
  • Crime Analysts
  • Computer Forensics Investigator
  • Communications Officers
  • Command and Dispatch Roles
  • Detention Officer
  • Human Resources

Police Officer

As a police officer your job will be to reduce crime and the fear of crime, and promote confidence among local people that the police understand and are prepared to deal with the issues that matter most to them. Police officers work on the frontline and everyone who wants to become a police officer has to complete a two-year probationary period as a constable working on the beat. Once you have completed your initial training you may choose to move into a specialist area such as CID, counter-terrorism, drugs, fraud or dog handling.

Civilian roles

Getting in/getting experience

Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) PCSOs work with police officers and share some, but not all of their powers (for example, they cannot make an arrest themselves). They provide a visible and reassuring presence on the streets and help to tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour. This is a paid, usually full-time position that can lead to a long career with the police. Joining the police on the College of Policing website.

Scene of Crime Officer (SOCO)

SOCOs work with police in the investigation of serious crime. They are among the first to arrive at a crime scene and their job is to retrieve, examine and investigate physical evidence that may help to trace and convict criminals. They determine from the crime scene whether assistance from specialists, such as a forensic scientist, is needed. For further information, see our I Want to Work in Forensic Science page.

Criminal Intelligence Analyst

Criminal intelligence analysts collect and evaluate information which they use to analyse patterns of crime, build up a picture of criminal suspects and their activities to help solve crimes and prevent future crimes being committed.

Getting in/getting experience

Typically, when recruiting police officers, forces look for life experience that has involved communication, team working and working with people from a broad range of backgrounds. If you have experience of dealing with people in difficult situations, addressing anti-social behaviour and similar issues, this will strengthen your application. Increasingly, forces will require a Certificate in Knowledge of Policing and/or experience in a relevant policing or policing related role, such as Special Constable or PCSO. Check with individual forces to find out their specific requirements. Some forces (including the Metropolitan Police) prefer people who are resident in their area, as they can relate well to the local community and their local knowledge is also likely to be helpful. 

Volunteering with police forces

Police forces have used Special Constables for many years to support the work of full-time police officers. Special Constables are volunteers but have the same powers as police officers. This experience will be particularly helpful when applying for a police officer role and, with some forces, may even be compulsory.

Other volunteer roles

See volunteer opportunities on the Kent Police website.

Fire and Rescue Service

As well as fighting fires, fire and rescue service workers keep the public safe from many other threats, including floods and road traffic incidents, and play a major role during serious incidents such as terrorist attacks. Equally importantly, they help to prevent fire and loss of life through public information and engagement campaigns.

Ambulance Service

Ambulance paramedics deal with a range of situations from medical emergencies and major incidents to non-emergency patient transport to and from hospital.

Getting in

Historically, entry into the paramedic profession was achieved by on-the-job work and training within an ambulance service. Today, there are a number of University courses leading to paramedic qualifications and this is now the recommended route to becoming a paramedic. Your course will need to be one approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the regulatory body for paramedics: search the register at HCPC. Funding may not be easy if you've already had funding for a first degree: talk to approved course providers about funding opportunities. Coastguard Service and RNLI The role of the coastguard service is to coordinate search and rescue at sea, check that ships meet UK and international safety rules, and to prevent coastal pollution. Watch Assistants (CWA) and Watch Officers (CWO) operate a 24-hour emergency service, responding to emergencies and requests for assistance. Other jobs in the service include administration and customer service roles, such as registration officers, who deal with registering vessels on the UK Ships Register, as well as specialised roles such as marine surveying. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution

(RNLI) is a purely voluntary organisation providing a 24-hour service around the coast of the UK and Republic of Ireland. Click here for information about volunteering as part of a lifeboat crew. The RNLI also provides summer lifeguards.


Police forces

  • Kent Police
  • Metropolitan Police - As well as holding the Certificate in Knowledge of Policing, applicants also need to have lived in London for at least three of the last six years to be eligible to apply for Police Officer roles. A second language (in addition to English) is desirable but not essential.
  • Police - Links to individual police forces web pages including the Ministry of Defence, British Transport Police and Port of Dover Police.

Other sites carrying police vacancies

Fire and Rescue Service

Ambulance Service

Search and Rescue Mountain Rescue (MR) is a charity providing a 24 hour emergency service MR teams are made up of unpaid volunteers who normally have a hill walking or mountaineering background. There are 48 mountain rescue teams in England and Wales and 27 in Scotland.

Find out more

Useful links:

Certificate in Knowledge of Policing

The Certificate in Knowledge of Policing (CKP) is a national qualification introduced by the College of Policing in 2012. Many forces, including the Metropolitan Police, now require applicants to have achieved a CKP within the last three years prior to application and it may give an advantage when applying to other forces.

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