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Police Officer


Alternative titles for this job

Police officers work to prevent and solve crime, keep the peace, and respond to criminal activities and emergencies.


Police officers with one to four years’ experience usually earn

$69K-$76K per year

Source: NZ Police, 2022.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a police officer are average due to high competition for vacancies.


Pay for police officers varies depending on skills, experience, and the type of work they do. 

  • Police officers in initial training can expect to earn $50,000 a year. 
  • Graduate police officers usually start on $69,000.
  • Police officers with one to four years' experience usually earn $69,000 to $76,000.
  • Police officers with more than four years' experience can earn more than $76,000.

Police officers may receive allowances for items such as travel, food and clothing, extra duties, overtime and insurances.

Source: NZ Police,, accessed 15 February 2022.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Police officers may do some or all of the following:

  • patrol selected areas on foot or by car
  • help people in a wide range of emergencies
  • investigate crimes, domestic disturbances, serious crashes and sudden deaths
  • interview people and take statements
  • search for and arrest suspected criminals
  • write reports
  • give evidence in court
  • direct traffic 
  • work with schools to provide safety and crime prevention education. 

Skills and knowledge

Police officers need to have:

  • knowledge of police policy and procedures, the legal system and community support services
  • skills in observation
  • skills in interviewing, problem solving and negotiation.

Working conditions

Police officers:

  • usually work shifts, including nights and weekends 
  • work in a variety of locations, including offices, courts, urban streets and rural areas
  • may be at risk of verbal or physical abuse
  • may travel to different sites around the country and overseas to help investigate crimes and attend conferences.

Entry requirements

To become a police officer you need to complete the police training course, which involves:

  • a three-day online course before starting at Police College
  • 16 weeks of training at the Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua
  • two years of supervised police work, which is regularly assessed.

To enter police training you must:

  • be at least 17 when you apply, and 18 years old when you start at Police College
  • hold a full New Zealand driver licence
  • be a New Zealand or Australian citizen or a New Zealand permanent resident
  • be able to speak, read, write and listen in English
  • pass academic tests
  • pass physical fitness tests and receive a medical clearance
  • have good eyesight 
  • attend an interview and job preview sessions
  • notify police of any previous traffic or criminal offences 
  • provide a police clearance for any country you've worked or lived in for longer than three months.

The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 means that if you have certain serious convictions, you can’t be employed in a role where you are responsible for, or work alone with, children.

Secondary education

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but maths, English, physical education and social studies to at least NCEA Level 2 are useful.

Personal requirements

Police officers need to be:

  • excellent communicators
  • able to relate to and have empathy for people from a range of cultures and backgrounds
  • mature and responsible, and able to keep information private
  • good at solving problems and making decisions
  • patient and helpful with a sense of humour
  • honest and committed to people's safety
  • disciplined and able to remain calm in emergencies
  • good at written and verbal reporting
  • able to work as part of a team.

Useful experience

Useful experience for police officers includes:

  • work with a community group
  • being part of a community patrol
  • sports coaching
  • being a mentor for young people
  • volunteering or fundraising.

Physical requirements

Police officers need to have:

  • excellent fitness and health 
  • good hearing
  • normal colour vision
  • good eyesight (with or without corrective lenses). 

Find out more about training

NZ Police recruitment
0800 639 2677 -
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

High competition for police officer vacancies

Chances of getting a job as a police officer are average as there is high competition for limited vacancies.

According to the Census, 9831 police officers worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Demand for police officers varies between regions

You can increase your chances of getting a job by applying in regions where New Zealand Police are recruiting.

Diversity valued in police force   

New Zealand Police encourages applications from people of all cultures, genders, sexualities and backgrounds so they can better serve the needs of New Zealand's diverse communities. 

One employer of police officers

All police officers are employed by New Zealand Police. 


  • New Cops website, accessed 15 February, 2022, (
  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, 'Occupation Outlook - Police', accessed March 2021, (
  • Maher, J, talent resourcing advisor, New Zealand Police, interview, 15 February 2022.
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Police officers may progress to leadership positions such as detective or sergeant.

Police officers may join a specialised police unit such as:

  • armed offenders squad
  • child protection team
  • dog handling
  • forensics
  • road policing
  • search and rescue
  • youth aid.
Two police officers talking and walking down a street

Being visible in the community helps police officers to prevent crime (Photo: NZ Police)

Last updated 24 February 2022