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Law

Security Service personnel

Security Service personnel protect the UK against threats to national security.

Annual Salary

£22,000 to £40,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

37 to 39 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; on shifts

2.4%
Future employment

There will be 2.4% more Security Service personnel jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

Your day-to-day duties will vary according to your role. You could:

  • collect information on threats to national security
  • watch and report on suspects' movements and actions
  • use specialist IT or electronics equipment to record and observe activities
  • make decisions about potential threats
  • support and troubleshoot IT systems
  • develop software systems
  • provide administrative support in departments like finance or HR

Working environment

You may need to wear a uniform.

You could work at a police station, in an office or in a control room.

Your working environment may be emotionally demanding, outdoors some of the time and you may spend nights away from home.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly

Different roles in the security services have different entry routes.

University

To enter the Security Service with a degree, you'll need a pass at upper second class or higher. Relevant degree subjects include:

  • history
  • languages
  • politics
  • economics
  • maths
  • law

With a degree you can apply for job roles, like:intelligence analyst; internet and computer technology specialist; security exploitation officer; foreign language analyst

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
For more information
Apprenticeship

You could apply for one of the MI5 technical apprenticeships like:

  • infrastructure engineering apprenticeship
  • software engineer degree apprenticeship

You will need to apply directly to the Security Service MI5 to gain a place on one of these apprenticeships.

For more information
Direct application

For some roles within the Security Service, like foreign language analyst or security guard, you would not need any specific qualifications. Entry would be based on the experience and skills you could bring to the role, for instance fluency in a language like Russian or Mandarin.

There could also be opportunities for you if you have technical, vocational or professional qualifications in subjects like electronics or accountancy.

For support jobs such as business officer or administration assistant, you may need five GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent including English and maths, or have relevant office-based experience.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

  • Due to the sensitive nature of the work, you have to undergo background checks, which could include detailed questions about your life. You also have to provide work and character references. You can get more information about the vetting process and eligibility from the Security Service MI5.
  • be a British citizen
  • be over 18 years of age

More information

Further information

You can find out more about careers and training in this field from the Security Service MI5.

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With experience and a good performance record, you could move into management. You could also move to another station in the UK or apply for opportunities with SIS (Secret Intelligence Service MI6) and GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters).

MI5 and Careers In British Intelligence have more information on working in the security service

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • complex problem-solving skills
  • customer service skills
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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