Always had an interest in right and wrong? See yourself as someone that can protect others, and potentially their country, from illegal activity? Fancy giving something back to your community? This page provides information about careers in the police force, armed services and other professions within this sector.

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You may also want to take a look at our career sector summary of the Legal profession.

Jobs and salaries

Look at the range of employment opportunities available in this sector.

Career information for the armed services:

And for:

There are also links here to MI5 and MI6. MI5 is responsible for protecting the United Kingdom against threats to national security, whilst MI6 is Britain’s ‘secret service’ providing the British Government with a global covert capability to promote and defend national security.

In addition, we provide links to other law enforcement and protection services in the private sector, (e.g. bodyguardsdoor-supervisors and store detectives, and look at the work of other public sector organisations operating in this area including environmental health. Private sector organisations are also involved in prison management as well as prisoner escort and transfer duties.

It is also possible to work as a civilian in jobs with the Ministry of Defence. Find out more here.

  • Pay rates for the Forces can be found here (Army) and here for RAF.
  • Find information about working as a police officer and rates of pay here.
  • A job in the Fire Brigade?

Routes and qualifications

The route into almost of these jobs is direct, in other words no particular professional qualification is needed before you start work; training and, in some cases, qualification arise from doing the job.
However, for many of the roles in this sector you will have to meet certain ‘eligibility criteria’. For an example, see the eligibility criteria to join the Metropolitan Police (London) here.

In the police service every police cadet goes through the same basic training and a two-year probationary period working on the beat as a patrol constable.

See what’s required to join the UK Border Agency responsible for securing the UK borders and controlling migration in the UK.

If you’re interested in working in security in the private sector you might want to visit this Home Office/Security Industry Authority site.

See the routes into the prison service and into becoming a store detective.

Funding and support

The Army offers various bursaries and grants to people looking to join. The Navy has similar arrangements in place. The RAF offers support to potential officers and runs an apprenticeship scheme.

Go to your local police force's website and find out more about the support they give for training to be a police officer, or for other roles in the police force.

What's it really like working in this sector?

Take a break from reading and browse through our career videos from people working in the law enforcement and protection sector.

How many jobs are there in this sector?

Over 300,000 people work in the law enforcement and protection sector, mostly within the police service, and there is always a need for more.

Britain spends around £38bn on defence. See other facts about the size and composition of Britain’s Armed Services.

The Prison Service looks after around 84,000 prisoners - find out more here.

Location, location, location

Police work all over the country, although of course there are more opportunities in towns and cities.

MI5 and MI6 are headquartered in London.

Members of the Armed Services are deployed in many other parts of the world as well as in the UK.

There are 140 prisons across the UK – see the locations here.

Border Agency staff work at all ports and airports in the UK

Will a career in this sector suit me?

Many of these jobs – but no means all of them – are, of course, physically demanding.

Other skills may include:

  • ICT proficiency, potentially with a variety of mobile devices.
  • Management and team leading.
  • Communication and dispute resolution.
  • An awareness and appreciation of diversity.