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Armed Forces, Emergency and Security Services

The Job Market



  • The Army employs over 100,000 people but is currently making cuts. The first step should be to speak to an adviser at an armed forces careers office. Contact details for local offices and further information about a career in the army is available at

Royal Air Force

  • The number of people in the RAF has fallen in recent years
  • There is strong competition for some roles. The RAF careers website highlights which trades are receiving high numbers of applications
  • All officer roles are open to men and women, with the exception of RAF Regiment officer, which is open to men only

The Royal Navy

  • Armed forces careers offices have details of vacancies

The Ambulance Service

  • Most ambulance staff are employed by the local NHS ambulance trusts in England. A few ambulance service staff work for private ambulance services and in the armed forces
  • Competition for posts can be strong
  • NHS ambulance jobs are advertised on the NHS jobs vacancy website (, on ambulance trusts' websites and in local newspapers

The Fire and Rescue Service

  • The main employers of firefighters in England are the 45 fire and rescue authorities
  • Other organisations employ firefighters, including the British Airports Authority, the Defence Fire and Rescue Service, and the RAF
  • There a lot of competition for vacancies

The Police

  • Excluding the British Transport Police, there are around 137,000 police officers working in England and Wales (Home Office figures 2011)
  • They are employed by the 43 regional police forces, as well as non-geographic forces, such as the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP)
  • Currently many forces are not recruiting due to financial difficulties

Prison Service

  • Figures from December 2011, showed around 47400 prison officers. Most work in adult prisons while others are at young offenders' institutions
  • Most prisons in England and Wales are run by Her Majesty's Prison Service (HMPS)
  • Eleven others are run by private companies under contract to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).
  • Prisons are located in urban and rural areas, some in very remote areas

Private Security Services

  • There are estimated to be around 500,000 people employed in the UK security industry
  • They work in a variety of places, such as shopping centres, airports, sports and concert venues, building sites and hospitals
  • Large organisations may employ their own security staff, but many officers work as contract staff for private security companies
  • There are around 2,500 security firms in the UK, many of them small, local firms
  • Close protection officers (bodyguards) is a small and specialised area of work
  • Close Protection Officers employed by the state are usually specially trained police officers or military personnel, often from the Royal Military Police or Special Forces