Law enforcement and security jobs

Author
Daniel Higginbotham, Editor
Posted
March, 2021

By choosing a law enforcement career - whether that's working for the armed forces or emergency services - your main focus will be on protecting and serving others in your local community and across the nation

Armed forces

Firstly, you'll need to decide 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 specialists to those working in intelligence, logistics and education. Once you've started your career and passed all your training, you'll find opportunities to progress through the armed forces ranking structures.

Explore our armed forces job profiles:

Consider armed forces careers.

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, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and UK Visas and Immigration.

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 move into other departments within the Home Office (HO).

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.

For entry 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.

Detective

It's your job to manage criminal investigations, 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 and detective chief inspector - 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 be central to 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. It's likely you'll work closely with relevant council departments and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

Responsibilities 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.

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 be varied, as the work may include anything from attending incidents such as fires, road accidents, floods and terrorist attacks, to rescuing trapped people and animals, providing first aid, undertaking drills and training, and maintaining a high level of physical fitness.

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

Explore what attributes you'll need to be a firefighter.

Health and safety inspector

Working primarily for the 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 (Government Communications Headquarters), MI6 and MI5, or alternatively the armed forces. Your job will be to help protect national security and its economic wellbeing, as well as detecting serious organised crime.

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 plenty of responsibility and regular post rotation is encouraged to maintain intellectual stimulation and introduce new challenges.

Explore working as an intelligence analyst and get information on other intelligence services careers for graduates.

Paramedic

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, monitor the patient's condition on the way to hospital, 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 move on to management positions in the control room.

Learn about the role of a paramedic in more detail and read 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 your training and passed the probationary period, there's a clearly defined ranking structure for career progression - from police constable all the way up to chief constable.

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, maintaining 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, 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 consider other 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 responding 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.

Other law enforcement roles

Find out more

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