Joining the Armed Forces
You can join the armed forces as a regular (full-time) or as a reservist (alongside another job).
Check the following points on the relevant careers website for the Army/Navy/RAF first:
- That you meet the age requirements and meet the medical conditions and other restrictions for what you want to do
- That you’ve have spoken with the Careers Centre for the Armed Forces at 35 St Giles to explore your options.
Once you’re feeling ready, you can apply – often in your last year of university or the year afterwards. The regular officer application process takes around 3-5 months for the Army, and can vary for other roles. There is clear support online for each stage, and the local Careers Centre to support you too.
Joining the Police
You can join the police as a police officer in the standard way, through the Direct Entry at Inspector programme which opens in December or through schemes operating within individual police forces, such as Police Now (a graduate leadership programme which for 2022 entry has opportunities in 30 police forces). Police Now also operates a National Detective Programme. You could also first join the police as a community support officer, a special constable (a volunteer role), or as a police support volunteer (office based volunteering). You can only join through one police force at a time – start by going to the regional police force website.
Joining the Prison and Probation Service
There is direct entry into training as a Prison Officer but the Unlocked Graduates programme has enabled many graduates to gain direct leadership development experience in the UK prison service whilst also working towards a Masters and developing skills in policy.
The Probation Service requires applicants to have NVQ Level 5 or a Degree. Recruitment is generally twice a year and will depend on the location that you wish to work in. Training for the Professional Qualification in Probation (PQiP) will take between 15 and 21months depending on whether you have studied relevant modules at University, such as:
- The Criminal Justice System
- Understanding Crime and Criminal Behaviour
- Penal Policy and the Punishment of Offenders
- Rehabilitation of Offenders.
If you have not studied these, the training will take 21 months.
Joining the Fire Service
Each fire service in England sets its own criteria, so check the entry process with the local service you intend to work for. Most services have both ‘wholetime’ (full time) and ‘on-call’ (part time) roles.
Joining the Ambulance Services
To practice as a paramedic you need to complete a programme approved by the Health Care Professions Council in paramedic science. The course finder tool from NHS Careers can help you find a suitable course. You can often find a student paramedic position you can do during your course. Courses tend to be reasonably flexible, but last from 2 to 5 years depending on whether you study full or part time.