Job description

Police officers work in partnership with their local communities to maintain law and order and investigate criminal activity. They instigate regular public awareness and education campaigns alongside schools, local businesses and various community groups, and on a larger scale also tackle broader criminal threats, such as terrorism and organised crime.


    • Liaise with key stakeholders in order to tackle specific community concerns and issues
    • Regularly patrol communities in order to deter crime and provide a visible presence
    • Respond to emergency calls from the public as and when required
    • Conduct initial investigations within strict legal guidelines
    • Gather evidence and interview perpetrators, victims and witnesses as necessary
    • Perform arrests in a safe, legal and responsible manner
    • Prepare crime reports and present case files to senior officers and prosecutors
    • Attend and give evidence in court and at other legal proceedings
    • Attend road-related incidents, including collisions, vehicle checkpoints and traffic offences

Skills and qualities

Cultural awareness
Personal responsibility
Physical fitness

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2016 to 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 7%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2016 and 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk


Career progression

Once qualified, police officers undergo a probationary period of around two years, under the supervision of a senior partner. With experience, there is the opportunity to rise through the ranks and lead teams and/or operations; it is even possible with good conduct and performance to become a senior officer, responsible for creating policy.

During their career, many officers also specialise in one or more specific areas of policing, such as homicide, narcotics or armed response (although many of these roles require entrance exams and additional training).

Working conditions

Average hours

40h/ week

Typical schedule

Shift Work

Days, evenings, weekends and holidays

Police officers are expected to be out on the streets in all weather, responding to calls and providing a physical presence. You will be required to respond quickly to emergency calls, with no two days the same.

Police work can be very dangerous as you will be dealing with hostile individuals on a regular basis; therefore, self-safety is paramount. All police officers carry firearms, so you will need to be responsible and prepared to use lethal force if necessary.

As well as physically dangerous, policing can also be emotionally demanding, too.


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level

High school

Police academy training

Study time

6 months

Acceptance into a police academy is dependent upon your performance during the assessment process, where you will be tested on your physical fitness, decision making, temperament and overall suitability for police work. You will also need to be a US citizen and have no serious criminal record.

It’s worth noting that while most forces accept a high school diploma, some police forces may require an associate degree in a relevant field.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

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