Law enforcement and security jobs

Dan Mason, Editorial manager
November, 2019

A career dedicated to protecting others from harm could see you working in fields including the emergency services, environmental health or the armed forces - learn more about the range of careers you could pursue

Armed Forces

If you decide you want to join the Armed Forces, there are lots of routes you can take that require a variety of skills. Firstly, though, you need to choose whether you'd prefer to join the Army, Royal Air Force or Royal Navy.

Within each of the armed forces there are many roles available, from frontline combat, engineering and medical to intelligence, logistics and education. Once you've started your career and passed all your training, there are plenty of opportunities to progress through the armed forces ranking structures.

Explore armed forces job profiles:

Find out more about Armed Forces careers.

Border Force officer

As a Border Force officer it's your job to ensure the UK's borders are secure 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

You'll do this by patrolling the coastline, rail services and airports, monitoring people and items and detecting risks. Should they arise, you'll report concerns to organisations such as the police and the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Border Force officers need to be diligent, have strong observational skills and the ability to remain calm under pressure, as the job involves interacting with aggressive or dangerous individuals. This is a physically demanding role, and you'll be required to work long, irregular shifts all year round.

More Border Force jobs become available as your career progresses. You could become a senior officer, a trainer preparing new Border Force officers for the role, or into other departments within the Home Office.

Learn more about becoming a Border Force officer.

Bomb disposal technician

Otherwise known as explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), bomb disposal involves identifying, making safe and disposing of different kinds of explosive devices.

You'll work with the police to evacuate dangerous areas, using metal detectors and remote control robots to ensure disposal is carried out safely. Bomb disposal technicians work in a range of outdoor environments, including warzones, underwater or in civilian areas.

There are a number of entry requirements into this role. You'll need to demonstrate a good level of physical fitness, pass a medical check and hold the appropriate citizenship. A degree isn't essential, as working your way into this role is common - the majority of bomb disposal technicians move into this work through the armed forces. However, you'll typically need good GCSE and A-level (or equivalent) qualifications.

You could move up the ranks in the armed forces from this position, and once you leave you'll have a range of career options - you could work for an environmental company or non-governmental agency.


It's your job to manage investigations into areas of crimes from robbery and domestic violence through to fraud, cybercrime and homicide. Detective is not a rank, but a description of your role, as you work alongside uniformed colleagues on an equal basis.

You'll gather, verify and assess information to gain an understanding of a case, analyse and interpret data, use cutting edge technology, prepare accurate case papers, deal with forensic material, participate in searches and arrests, and liaise with internal and external agencies.

With experience and success you can move up the defined promotion structure from detective constable to detective sergeant, detective inspector, detective chief inspector, etc - all the way through to chief constable. Get more information on how to become a detective.

Environmental health practitioner

Developing, implementing and enforcing health policies will form the centrepiece of your role. You could work across a range of fields or specialise in areas such as environmental protection, food safety, noise control, public health or waste management.

Your responsibilities may include carrying out site visits to ensure compliance, taking photos, producing drawings and removing samples following inspections, investigating complaints from the public and giving talks at public enquiries and meetings.

As your career progresses you can remain a generalist or specialise in a particular area, while gaining chartered status will enable progression to senior posts. Discover what being an environmental health practitioner involves.


As a firefighter you'll need to remain calm under extreme pressure as you respond to emergency situations and help to protect life and property. You'll also be involved in advising the local community on fire and accident prevention and promoting safe practices.

Your role will include attending incidents such as fires, road accidents, floods and terrorist attacks, rescuing trapped people and animals, giving first aid, undertaking drills and training, and maintaining physical fitness.

There's a well-structured career path, so as you progress you can become a crew manager, watch manager, station manager and so on - all the way up to chief fire officer. Explore the firefighter job profile.

Health and safety inspector

Working primarily for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or local authorities, you'll ensure that employers are complying with health and safety laws so that workplaces don't cause ill health, injury or death.

Visiting business premises to carry out inspections, investigating accidents to find out whether health and safety laws have been breached, keeping up to date with relevant legislation, and appearing in court or at an employment tribunal as a witness will all be among your responsibilities.

At the HSE you'll join as a trainee inspector of health and safety and undergo a two-year training programme before a potential promotion to principal inspector or above. Discover more about becoming a health and safety inspector.

Intelligence analyst

As an intelligence analyst (or intelligence officer) your most likely employer will be one of the UK's secret services - GCHQ, MI6 and MI5, or alternatively the armed forces. Your job will be to help protect national security and economic wellbeing, and detect serious organised crime.

Typical activities include identifying potential agents and targets, collating and validating intelligence information, evaluating the reliability of sources, delivering formal reports and presentations, and liaising with colleagues in other departments.

Following your first posting, which will last between 18 months and three years, you'll have lots of responsibility and regular post rotation is encouraged to maintain intellectual stimulation and introduce new challenges. Explore the intelligence analyst job profile.

Occupational hygienist

You'll be an expert in identifying, assessing and controlling health hazards in the workplace. Working in factories, offices and on building sites, you'll assess and resolve practical problems in a cost-effective way.

To achieve this you'll undertake surveys, compile data, liaise with employers and employees, provide training, and be persuasive to ensure managers put in place appropriate safety measures.

As your career progresses you may specialise in a particular area, such as asbestos or legionella, or move into management and consultancy roles - such as government departments. Find out more about the role of an occupational hygienist.


Responding to emergency medical 999 and 111 calls, you'll be the first healthcare professional on the scene and you'll deal with everything from life-threatening injuries to minor illnesses.

It will be up to you to provide immediate treatment at the scene and en route to hospital, monitor the patient's condition, brief doctors and nurses on the situation, produce thorough case notes and supervise new staff.

With experience you can become a senior paramedic or emergency services team leader, and later to management positions in the control room. Explore the paramedic job profile and a day in the life of a paramedic.

Police officer

It's your job to maintain law and order, protect the public and their property, and prevent crime and anti-social behaviour. You'll also work with a variety of community organisations and groups to provide advice and assistance to those who want to reduce crime or have been affected by it.

Your day-to-day job will include conducting patrols, responding to emergency calls, taking statements, preparing crime reports, giving evidence in court and much more.

Once you've completed all of your training and probationary period, there is a clearly-defined ranking structure for career progression - from police constable to sergeant, inspector, chief inspector and so on. Explore the police officer job profile and find out more about joining the police.

Prison officer

You'll be responsible for the security, supervision, training and rehabilitation of prisoners. This involves building positive working relationships with them and showing compassion, while maintaining authority.

Typical daily tasks include performing security checks, keeping order, escorting prisoners, being aware of prisoners' rights, promoting anti-bullying and suicide prevention policies, and preparing reports and documentation for managers.

As your career develops, you'll take on more responsibility and staff management, and there will also be opportunities to specialise - for example, in rehabilitative work with specific groups of prisoners. Eventually you could go on to become a prison governor. Read more on becoming a prison officer and discover jobs in the prison and probation service.

Trading standards officer

Most trading standards officers (TSOs) work for local councils to enforce rules on the buying, selling and hiring of goods and services. This includes being involved in the prevention, detection and prosecution of offences, as well as offering advice on consumer law.

Your responsibilities may include visiting trade premises to carry out checks or respond to complaints, identifying potential hazards, investigating suspected offences, presenting evidence in court and giving legal advice to the public about consumer rights.

The most common career progression is to senior TSO, then section head, divisional officer and finally chief or principal TSO. See what else is involved in being a trading standards officer.

Find out more

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