A policing degree is the perfect starting point for a career in the police service. If you long to protect the public, serve your community, and maintain law and order, then a policing degree could be the course for you. Read on and discover the wide range of career options you could consider, should you choose to study policing.
By Grant Longstaff. Published 6 June 2023.
Police officers are the public face of the police service. They work to maintain public safety, aim to prevent crime and support victims. They’ll work with individuals from various departments within the police service, the justice system, and prison service, and regularly deal with offenders and the wider public. The work can be challenging. If you want to become a police officer you’ll need patience, strong communication and problem solving skills, and a great deal of integrity. There is also a lengthy application process, which includes a fitness test, background checks and an interview.
It's worth noting you don’t need a policing degree to apply for the police force. That said, a professional policing degree is intended as a first step towards working as a police officer. Our BSc (Hons) Professional Policing degree is approved by the College of Policing (the professional body for everyone working across policing) as a pre-join policing degree. This means you can undergo a shorter training programme, should your application to the service be successful.
Once you’ve completed your probation (usually two to three years) as a police constable, the opportunity for progression within the police service becomes a valid option. There are many areas and roles to consider, and most will require further applications and training. Below, we touch on just some of the options.
A career in investigation is one of the most popular career pathways. Working within serious and complex crime investigation will cover a broad range of offences, including but not limited to, homicide, domestic violence, sexual assault, drugs, and terrorism. An investigative mindset is a must, and investigators will likely end up specialising in a particular area as they progress through the ranks.
Authorised firearms officer
Authorised firearms officers (AFO) are qualified to handle firearms and undergo tactical training. It is the chief officer who authorises AFOs to carry a firearm, and there is a strict command structure and protocol which must be followed when they are deployed. As well as training, you’ll have to meet strict fitness for duty standards to become an AFO.
Mounted police officer
You’ll have no doubt seen a police officer on horseback at some point, whether it’s simply patrolling the city centre or supporting with crowd control outside of a stadium. If this seems like the job for you then you can apply once you’ve completed your probation period. You don’t need to have any previous riding training either, this will all be provided on the job.
Intelligence officers are an essential part of any police force, and there are a number of areas within intelligence you could move into, from undercover work to counter-terrorism. You’ll need diligence, a keen eye for detail, and decisive decision making skills.
As a dog handler, you and your canine colleague will support officers in a variety of operations. Whether you’re assisting in the search for a suspect or a missing person, you’ll need to foster a good relationship with your dog. This is a serious undertaking, as you’ll not only work with the dog but live with and care for them too.
Family liaison officer
Family liaison officers (FLO) are responsible for providing much needed support to the victims of crime. You’ll connect with both the investigation team and the victim or the victim’s family, and relay information between the two, so you’ll need good communication skills, empathy, and compassion in order to develop a strong bond with those affected.
The long arm of the law
This is just a small selection of the career options within the police service. If you want to know more about joining the police, find career advice, or information on training and progression, you can explore the College of Policing and Joining the Police websites. Joining the Police has information on the forces currently recruiting and the College of Policing has interviews with a variety of different officers about their roles.
Wherever you hope to end up within the police service, the professional policing degree will open the first door to this challenging, but ultimately rewarding, line of work.
If you’re ready to make a difference in your community, explore our range of policing degrees and enrol today.