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Police officer

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Summary of occupation

A police officer maintains public order, and enforces laws by investigating crimes, patrolling public areas, and arresting suspected offenders.

They assist people in emergency situations and coordinate emergency management procedures. Police officers also play an important role educating the community about crime prevention and creating safer communities. Police officers must also write reports and maintain information databases on a daily basis.

ANZSCO description: Maintains public order, and enforces laws by  investigating crimes, patrolling public areas and arresting suspected  offenders.
Alternative names: Australian Federal Police Officer, Detective, Police Officer - State
Specialisations: Bomb Squad Officer, Dog Handler, Intelligence Officer, Mounted Police Officer, Patrol Inquiry Officer, Search and Rescue Officer, Tactical Response Group Officer, Water Police Officer
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A police officer needs:

  • the ability to listen to people from all walks of life
  • good team working and communication skills
  • to be honest, reliable and responsible
  • to enjoy helping people and be sensitive to situations where understanding of trauma and loss has occurred, and recognising where assertiveness and confidence are required in times of conflict
  • the ability to stay calm in difficult situations
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Working conditions

Most police officers begin their careers in Frontline or Operational Policing. An operational police officer is often the first on the scene in response to calls for help or public disorder incidents. Operational police officers are seen as the 'human face' of the WA Police Service and their work involves constant liaison with the community. Police officers must also write reports and maintain information databases on a daily basis.

There is also an expectation that police officers be prepared to work anywhere in Western Australia, and they can be expected to work shifts of up to 12 hours at a time. Police officers in country towns are expected to handle almost all aspects of policing and can gain a great deal of experience in a variety of roles.

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Salary details

Trainee police officers can expect to earn approximately $1 019 per week ($53 004 per year), while probationary police officers can expect to earn $1 356 per week ($70 521 per year). Once their probationary period ends, a police officer can expect to earn between $1 404 and  $1 482 per week ($73 011 and $77 076 per year), depending on their duties and level of experience.

As a police officer gains experience and progresses through the ranks their pay rate increases.

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Tools and technologies

Police officers, particularly those working as frontline police officers, need to have good driving skills, to pursue another vehicle or to get to the scene of an incident quickly and safely. Police officers can choose to carry and use a firearm, a taser, oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray (pepper spray), an expandable baton, and handcuffs, and they must know how to use a hand held radio.

Police officers also need basic computing and typing skills.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

Applicants must be Australian or New Zealand citizens or a Permanent Resident and are required to pass a Traffic and Criminal Check. They also need to hold a current Provide First Aid Certificate and a ‘C’ Class driver’s licence, with no more than eight demerit points.

Applicants who meet these pre-requirements will be invited to commence the selection process, involving a series of written, physical, psychological and medical checks.

Successful applicants are required to attend a 28 week training course at the Western Australian Police Academy in Joondalup. This is followed by an 18 month probationary period.

If you are between the ages of 16 and 18 years you can apply for a cadet traineeship through the Western Australia Police Department. You will need to have Australian or New Zealand citizenship or permanent residency in Australia.

Contact the Western Australia Police, Step Forward Recruitment for more information.

You can also complete the two year Associate Degree in Criminology and Justice at Edith Cowan University. However, if you wish to apply for a position as a police officer, you will need to apply at the start of your third semester of university study. Confirm your eligibility to become a police officer in Western Australia prior to enrolling in the course. Contact the university for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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Police Officer  Video Police Officer Occupation

A police officer maintains public order, and enforces laws by investigating crimes, patrolling public areas, and arresting suspected offenders.

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