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Armed Forces, Emergency and Security Services

Ways in


Armed Forces

There are age, nationality/citizenship requirements, medical and - depending on the position applied for, academic requirements. Aptitude and other tests will be given. For full information, visit the relevant armed forces' website.

The Ambulance Service

Entry requirements vary between ambulance trusts and many ask for at least 3 or 5 GCSEs (A*-C) or equivalent qualifications – 5 or more GCSEs or equivalent may be required for paramedic training. HE qualifications are available for intending paramedics. Ambulance crew drivers will also need a full manual driving licence.  Relevant experience before applying for entry may be gained in various ways. They include:

The Fire and Rescue Service

There are no set academic qualifications for entry, although many applicants have GCSEs or higher. As well as physical tests, applicants must pass tests in:

  • maths
  • understanding and interpreting written information
  • situational awareness and problem solving

Some services require a full driving licence.

The Police

No set academic qualifications are required, though written tests are part of the assessment and many applicants have strong qualifications. Applicants must be:

  • at least 17½ years old (18 for MDP)
  • a British, EU or Commonwealth citizen, or a foreign national with indefinite leave to remain in the UK
  • in good physical and mental health – a fitness test, eyesight test and medical examination are carried out.

Experience of public service or working with people is an advantage. Some candidates volunteer as special constables or work as police community support officers before applying to join the regular service.

Prison Officers

There are citizenship requirements and you must also:

  • be between 18 and 62 years old
  • pass an entrance test – although no specific qualifications are not required the test may be easier if you have qualifications
  • pass a sight test, wearing lenses or glasses if required
  • have good health and physical fitness
  • have at least three years' UK residency
  • not be an undischarged bankrupt, or having links to any groups or organisations the Prison Service regards as racist
  • pass a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check.

Applicants who meet the entry requirements are invited to attend an assessment day. They undertake language and numeracy tests, role play simulations, a health assessment and a fitness test.

Close Protection Officers

All Close Protection Officers working in England and Wales are required by law to have a Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence. To apply for a frontline close protection licence, applicants must be aged 18 years or over and have passed an SIA-approved qualification. Other requirements for a licence include having an SIA-recognised first aid certificate and undergoing checks through the Criminal Records Bureau.

Security Officers/Managers

Security officers usually need an SIA security guard licence and those working on premises with an alcohol licence, which can include shopping centres, need an SIA door supervisor licence. If the role involves monitoring CCTV, an SIA public space surveillance licence may be required too. Other security roles, such as close protection, cash and valuables in transit and vehicle immobilisation, require a separate licence. Some security organisations offer Apprenticeships.

For courses in higher education, see UCAS

For courses in schools and colleges, see UCAS Progress

For Apprenticeship information, including vacancies, see the National Apprenticeship Service