All of the careers available in the police, fire and rescue services and armed forces are in the public sector, which is huge. The wider ‘public sector’ also includes the justice services, local authorities, the education sector and national government.
Each part of the armed forces has its own procedure for how you join. Many jobs don’t require any qualifications. Some technical trades may need qualifications. Look at the relevant websites to see what qualifications you will need. To be an officer you will need at least five GCSEs (A*-C) including English, Maths, science and a foreign language. You’ll also need Level 3 qualifications like A-Levels or a National Diploma.
Some jobs require a degree.
The police, fire and rescue services encourage you to contact their local headquarters if you want to join them, even if you don’t have qualifications. They provide their own basic training at a training school.
Routes into this sector
There are various types of qualifications available:
- At 14 GCSEs in English, maths will help get you into this sector. Your school might also offer vocational qualifications such as BTECs, OCR Nationals, etc. related to this specific job sector.
- At 16 you have more options, you could do A Levels, which are general academic subjects or develop your knowledge and skills for this sector through an apprenticeship/traineeship or vocational qualifications.
- At 18 or 19 your options open further - you may wish to do a higher education/university course, with 8 out of 10 A Level students choosing this pathway and half of all BTEC National students. However there are other routes into your chosen career - through apprenticeships and vocational qualifications
You can find more information about the qualifications needed in this sector by visiting the following websites:
Police, fire and rescue services:
HM Prison Service:
- Justice for vacancies in prisons.
Some local links to rescue services:
There are so many career prospects in the armed forces that they have their own careers services! We suggest you visit them at the following websites for more information:
Locally you could also try the Armed Forces Careers Office (AFCO) based at 3rd Floor, 4 Colston Avenue, Bristol BS1 4TY. Tel 0117 926 2638.
Or see the sector skills council website Skills for Justice.
Spotlight on Police Community Support Officers
Police Community Support Officers work as part of a police force's neighbourhood policing team, alongside police officers and community teams. The role differs between forces, but they usually patrol a beat and interact with the public, while also offering assistance to police officers at crime scenes and major events.
They generally deal with minor offences, support frontline policing with activity such as providing crime prevention advice and house-to-house enquiries. PCSOs can work with schools and young people as well as supporting crime and disorder reduction partnerships. Support Officers will often work with Neighbourhood Watch, Community Watch and other schemes. They also work with local business and religious leaders.
Whilst PCSOs do not have the powers of regular police officers, they provide a critical service and have a lot of responsibility. There are no specific qualifications required but any candidate must be proficient in English and will have to pass a fitness test.
Community officers may be of any nationality, between the ages of 18-65, but must a UK resident.
Your local college(s) may have suitable public services courses or look for jobs via you local police force's website or public sector websites (above and below).
Visit the National Careers Service for more information on becoming a Police Community Support Officer
The role of a PCSO
Websites that adveritise other public sector vacancies
Why not try a free, online course (MOOC) in this job area?
Future Learn have lots of free, online courses that will improve your knowledge of this job sector and improve your chances of landing your dream job. e.g. UNSW Canberra (an Australian university) has developed a 7 week course on Military Ethics: an Introduction. Click on the following link for more information