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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

$75K-$83K per year

Source: NewCops website, 2023.

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 earn $56,000 a year. 
  • Graduate police officers  start on $75000.
  • Police officers in their fifth year earn $83,000.

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

Source: NZ Police,, accessed October 2023.

(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 on foot or by car
  • help people in emergencies
  • investigate crimes, domestic disturbances, 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, and rural areas
  • may be at risk of verbal or physical abuse
  • may travel around the country and overseas to help investigate crimes or attend conferences.

What's the job really like?

Police officer video

Police officers talk about their job – 1.00 mins

Various speakers

After 22 years I still love coming to
work just you don't know what's around
the corner really.

You see people at
their best in their worst but being able
to walk alongside the family it's
incredibly rewarding.

I love my job we're able to talk to people we're able to go
and visit them in their own environment
we get to see all of it.

You see the
change and the people that you deal with
and that's exciting

We could actually
make a difference and that's what really
drives us yeah just that real sense of
helping someone who's in a desperate

If we can play a small part in
relieving some of that anxiety it's

I joined to genuinely make New
Zealand a better place to live in.

We help people that's our job
we've got the most amazing organization
and we work about our welfare and do
cool jobs and I wouldn't change anything
from the world,
Yeah it's awesome

Entry requirements

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

  • a three-day online course before starting at Police College
  • 16 weeks 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 all 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

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 27 October 2023