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Police Officer

What does a police officer do?

Police officers work in partnership with the communities they serve to prevent crime and ensure the successful prosecution of those who break the law. Uniformed officers work alongside other police officers and staff such as police community support officers, and investigators for crime scenes and road traffic accidents. They also work closely with members of the criminal justice system, social workers, schools, local businesses, health trusts, housing authorities and community groups.

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Each day the working environment is variable; they may be in a patrol car, patrolling a public area, at the police station or attending court. Therefore, the environment can be both physically and emotionally demanding. Work conditions may be influenced by regional factors such as local terrain, culture and size of the local force.

You will need to complete two years as a student officer before becoming a police constable and then you can decide whether to specialise in a particular area of policing. As of 2020, the College of Policing has said that all new police officers in England and Wales will need to be educated to degree level.

How to become a police officer?

Here are the minimum eligibility requirements that you need to become a police officer:

  • Be aged 18 or over
  • Be a British Citizen or a foreign national with indefinite leave to remain in the UK without any restrictions
  • Have lived in the UK for at least three years
  • Completed a qualification equivalent to A-levels, have served as a police community support officer (PSCO) for 18 months or have been a special constable for 24 months
  • Not have any criminal convictions, debt issues or any offensive tattoos
  • Have a driving licence and pass medical, eyesight and fitness tests.

What qualification do you need to become a police officer?

  • The PEQF (Policing Education Qualifications Framework) is a new national framework for the professional training and qualifications of police officers.
  • Since 1st of January 2020 there are three ways to enter a police force as a constable: The police constable degree apprenticeship (PCDA), the Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP) and the Pre-Join Degree (PJD).
  • All three PEQF entry routes lead to the same outcome, an officer who is educated to degree level.
  • ULaw are licensed by the College of Policing to deliver the Pre-Join Degree (PJD), the BSc in Professional Policing, which is recognised by the police as part of one of the entry routes for the role of police constable.
  • Within five years of their graduation date students can apply to a police force, that is recruiting via the PJD route, should they wish to join. Application and recruitment to a police force are separate and independent from the study on the degree and students need to make sure that they meet all the recruitment criteria for the police service if they want to use their degree to join.

At The University of Law, we offer a variety of degrees that would help you become a police officer. Please see our selection of undergraduate degrees below.

Recommended Policing courses

BSc Professional Policing
BA Criminology
Law with Criminology

What skills does a police officer need?

  • Effective communication skills, including tact and diplomacy for dealing with sensitive situations
  • Community focus
  • A sense of personal responsibility, integrity and resilience
  • Problem-solving skills
  • A confident and calm manner
  • Good literacy skills in order to accurately record details and write reports
  • Respect for diversity
  • Teamwork skills and the ability to work independently
  • Professionalism, honesty and trustworthiness
  • Sound judgement and respect for confidentiality
  • The ability to act with resolve, tolerance and restraint.

What else can I do with a policing degree?

A degree in policing can also be a first step for those wanting to work in the
following areas:

  • Specialist police support roles
  • Border Force
  • National Crime Agency
  • Intelligence & security sector
  • NGO & charity sector
  • UK Visas & Immigration
  • Prison Service
  • Probation Service
  • Working with young offender
  • The Civil Service
  • Victim Support
  • HMRC Investigations
  • Offender rehabilitation

Do you need a degree to become a police officer?

You don’t initially need a degree to become a police officer. You can join the police via the Degree Apprenticeship Programme, part of the Policing Education Qualifications Framework (PEQF). However, during this programme, you will have to gain a degree.

How much does a police officer get paid?

An entry-level police officer with less than a year of experience can earn around £20-23k. According to, a junior police officer with 1-4 years of experience can earn around £24-25k. With more experience, police officers can earn up to £39k.

Useful links

For more information on jobs and what to expect from this career, please visit some of the most widely used sites for careers support.


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