How to Become a Police Officer in Australia
There are two main branches of the Australian police force; State and territory police and the Australian Federal Police. State Police hold responsibility for community protection and safety, they uphold local law, preserve the peace and prevent crime. Among other things, State police provide assistance in emergencies, enforce traffic and road rules and investigate crimes and missing person reports.
Australian Federal Police, on the other hand, are Australia’s national policing agency. They are tasked with upholding and enforcing Commonwealth law both at home and overseas. Some of the specific areas that the AFP cover are counter-terrorism, security in major airports and protection for political figures such as the Australian Prime Minister and foreign dignitaries. The Australian Federal Police also handle many international and border operations, combating illicit drug trades, people smuggling and sex tourism.
So, you want to serve your community, protect your fellow man and uphold peace, law and order? Here are some of the steps you’ll need to take to become a Police Officer in Australia.
Step 1: Complete your basic education.
To become an Australian police Officer you will need to have completed either your Senior Secondary Certificate of Education (HSC, VCE, QCE etc) or Year 10 and a trade certificate. You will also need to hold a driver’s licence and successfully complete the University Certificate in Workforce Essentials (UCWE) in order to be eligible for recruitment.
Step 2: Upskill.
Tertiary education adds to your competitiveness in the recruitment process; the State and Federal Police seek to recruit graduates from a variety of disciplines, not just law, justice and criminology. Arts degrees like public administration or emergency management can help you be a better supervisor, while degrees such as those in philosophy or the social sciences can enhance students’ critical thinking abilities and enable you to see problems from a different perspective.
Other degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) can also be very valuable to the police force, particularly in areas such as forensic work and crash investigation. Additionally, computer technology skills such as IT or programming are beneficial because technology (such as body cameras and substance detectors) is constantly being updated.
If you want to start a career as a Police Officer, don’t be afraid to study something that interests you. A police force that is diverse like the population it serves will be better equipped to solve problems and view situations from multiple angles.
Step 3: Get Fit.
You will be required to undertake a physical assessment as part of your recruitment, as well as regular fitness tests during your employment, so it is important to establish an ongoing exercise schedule and maintain your health and fitness throughout the application process and beyond.
Step 4: Apply.
As part of your application process, you will be required to complete the Police Entrance Exam. You can take the exam before or after you lodge your application and the results will form part of your suitability ranking. Once you have completed your application and all minimum requirements have been met, you will enter the testing phase and undergo a number of mental and physical examinations.
Step 5: Complete Recruitment.
After the examinations and tests, you will enter the selection phase where you will be informed if you have been successful. The final stage of the recruitment process is a formal face to face interview, conducted by a panel. This will provide an opportunity for the interviewers to assess you against a number of core qualities.
Successful candidates then complete 24 weeks of training at the AFP College in Barton, ACT, and recruits will complete a further 12 months of training on-the-job.
What does a Police Officer do?
Police Officers uphold the law, protect the community, help people and maintain order in society. They have a wide variety of responsibilities, ranging from investigating and prosecuting offences relating to cybercrime, drug trafficking and terrorism to securing crime scenes, protecting witnesses and maintaining road safety. It is a high-intensity profession with an extremely rigorous application process but, if you are the kind of person who is passionate about society, order and helping others, it can be one of the most rewarding and fulfilling roles in existence.
- Investigating and prosecuting offences.
- Securing and examining accident sites and crime scenes.
- Maintaining order and public safety.
- Pursuing and arresting suspects and offenders.
- Enforcing road rules and regulations.
- Protecting witnesses and political figures.
Skills for Success.
A good Police Officer needs a wide array of skills and attributes. Because you will often deal directly with the public, you need good communication skills and a high level of empathy, as well as a strong moral compass. You will need to be physically fit and have an excellent work ethic. In addition to these attributes, a Police Officer needs the constitution and mental strength to deal with confronting and often dangerous situations in a calm and rational manner.
- High level of physical fitness.
- Attention to detail.
- Problem solving and critical thinking skills.
- Compassion and empathy.
- Good verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
- Ethical and professional responsibility.
How much does a Police Officer make in Australia?
The average salary for an Australian Police Officer is $76,949. There is a broad range in salary for Police Officers depending on their qualifications and abilities, this is an indicator only according to Payscale 02/18