Careers Service Occupations

Armed Forces, Law Enforcement & Public Protection

Armed Forces, Law Enforcement and Public Protection

Armed Forces

The armed forces of the United Kingdom are made up of the Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. Their prime task is defending Britain, its interests and dependencies.

Most armed forces jobs are open to graduates of all disciplines, but some have medical, age and nationality requirements. All British Armed Forces roles are now open to women. 

Bursaries are available to undergraduates who plan to join the army after university. A bursary of between £6,000 and £24,000 is available to undergraduates who plan to become an officer after university, and a technical bursary of £25,000 is available for undergraduates studying an engineering or science degree who plan to join one of the technical corps. Bursaries of up to £75,000 are available for undergraduates who are studying medicine, dentistry, nursing or veterinary studies. See the Army careers website for more information. 

Research the sector

Making contacts

Representatives from all the armed forces visit the Careers Service on a regular basis. They give advice to anyone thinking of a career in the forces or seeking information on sponsorship. Contact the Careers Service for more information.

Gaining insight into roles and work experience can be through networking and speculative applications. You could start with:


The armed forces attend recruitment fairs and deliver presentations on campus throughout the year. Look out for these in Events.


There are a wide range of positions available in the armed forces – from engineering and IT to healthcare and logistics. The armed forces websites contain comprehensive careers information on these roles.

The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties, entry requirements and case studies.

Armed forces logistics/support officer

Armed forces operational officer

Armed forces technical officer

Armed forces training and education officer

Defence Medical Services

The Defence Medical Services are made up of uniformed medical and dental personnel from all three services.

Gaining experience



Royal Navy

DESG Sponsorship Scheme

The DESG Sponsorship scheme provides a bursary and paid summer employment. This is for engineering and science students considering employment within the Ministry of Defence.

Finding jobs

Find your local armed forces careers offices (AFCO):

Customs & Immigration

Careers in customs and immigration are open to graduates from any degree discipline. Degree subjects in languages, legal studies, business or finance may be helpful.

Useful websites:

It is sometimes possible for graduates to enter through the Civil Service Fast Stream route. This involves placements in several departments, but an immigration posting is not guaranteed. 

Making contacts

Making contacts is useful for success in this sector. Gain insight into roles and arrange work experience through networking and speculative applications. You could start with:

  • social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, which is useful for making contacts and finding opportunities
  • connecting  with Newcastle alumni on LinkedIn. Find out what they did after graduation and how they got there, and contact them for advice

Related sectors

You may also be interested in


The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties, entry requirements and case studies.

Border force officer

Customs officer

Immigration officer

Gaining experience

You can apply for work experience in most government department or agencies. If you have an interest in a particular department/location you can contact them. 

See more information about Working for the Civil Service. There is a list of government departments for contact details.

If you can’t get experience in a particular department, try to get experience in similar roles. Try for customer-focused or administrative experience in local or central government.

Finding jobs

Emergency Services and Prison Service

The emergency services include the ambulance service, fire service, police, prison service, and the coastguard. There is also the growing profession of emergency planning, which encompasses crisis and disaster management.

Careers advice

Ambulance service

If you’re interested in working for the ambulance service as a paramedic, please see our Healthcare pages. Look under Allied Healthcare Professional.

Fire service

UK Fire Service Resources is the unofficial fire service-related website, written by firefighters. It includes a recruitment section. 


There are other areas of policing, including:

Prison service


Emergency planning 

Making contacts

Making contacts is useful for success in this sector. Gain insight into roles and arrange work experience through networking and speculative applications. You could start with:


The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties, entry requirements and case studies. 


Community support officer 

Emergency planning/management officer

Fingerprint Officer


Police officer

Prison officer

Prison governor

Gaining experience

Fire service 

Getting into firefighting is extremely competitive. Although pre-entry experience is not essential, work in other uniformed services or as a part-time firefighter can be helpful. Work experience within the community and an interest and commitment to diversity is also useful. 

Contact your local fire brigade to arrange a visit or find out about opportunities for work experience.

Police service 

Volunteer in public service, work in community or sign up as a special constable to gain experience for joining the police.

Customer service experience is useful as the final assessment for police recruitment is focused on customer service scenarios. Look for part-time, temporary, voluntary or vacation customer service jobs.

The College of Policing outlines a range of voluntary opportunities available with the police. Contact your local police force to find out what is available in your area. 

Opportunities are also available to volunteer with the British Transport Police

Try to meet officers at campus presentations and careers fairs. Find out about familiarisation events run by most police services.

Prison service

Volunteer in a prison, or work with ex-offenders, disadvantaged people and deprived communities. This can help you decide if the work is right for you.

There are many opportunities to volunteer in this sector, including:

Contact local prisons to arrange a visit and enquire about voluntary work. You can search for volunteering opportunities with offenders and ex-offenders on the Do-it website.


There are opportunities to volunteer as a coastguard with the Coastguard Rescue Service.

Finding jobs

Fire service

UK Fire and Rescue Services outline the process for joining the UK Fire and Rescue Service. Recruitment is undertaken by each local fire and rescue service. See Chief Fire Officers Association for a list of UK Fire and Rescue Services.

You can sometimes sign up to recruitment mailing lists for individual services, eg Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.


Police Now is an intensive two-year national graduate leadership development programme. Participants will be warranted police officers working as the named, accountable officer with responsibility for a specific area. 

College of Policing outlines the recruitment process for joining the police. Recruitment is undertaken by each local police force. See Police.UK for a list of forces.

The following links provide vacancy information for specific branches of policing:

For information about joining the military police, see Armed Forces.

Prison service


Emergency Planning

See Environment for details of roles and jobs in the Environment Agency and see Development for roles in international work.