Are you attracted to the idea of being part of a team and doing an important job? Or what about working abroad and challenging yourself mentally and physically? A career in the uniformed and security services can not only offer these opportunities, but you can receive quality training and, in some cases, learn a trade or new skill too.
This career sector contains services that are concerned with security across a broad spectrum, from the country’s defence to civil order and protection of private businesses and individuals, to dealing with emergencies at sea or on land.
What areas can I work in?
This career area consists of four sectors:
armed services, whose main purpose is to defend the United Kingdom, its Overseas Territories (like the Falklands), its people and interests
emergency services, which includes coastguard and firefighting services
police and security work, which includes the investigation of criminal services, public safety and surveillance, border security and customs and revenue services
prison work involving custodial work and the rehabilitation of prisoners.
What kind of companies can I work for?
Royal Air Force
Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), a UK government agency
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS)
Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Police and Security Work
private security firms
retail stores and supermarkets
Border Force (formerly part of the UK Border Agency)
UK Visas and Immigration (formerly part of the UK Border Agency)
Scottish Police Authority (SPA)
government departments such as Security Service (MI5), Secret Service Intelligence Service (MI6) or GCHG (Government Communications Headquarters).
Scottish Prison Service (SPS).
What’s the job market like?
Generally the job prospects are good, although entry can be very competitive. It can help if you are able to move around the country in many jobs.
The armed services are a major UK employer, with almost 149,000 UK Regular Forces personnel (compared to 151,000 the same time last year) (1 March 2017). The Army is looking for recruits at present, despite the recent budget cuts across the Armed Forces. As yet it is not clear what, if any, impact there might be on recruitment. However, it is planned to decrease Regular Forces by 12,000, by 2020.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Services employ around 9,000 staff in uniformed and non-uniformed roles, however entry is very competitive.
There are very few jobs for Coastguards. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency employs around 1,050 people who are supported by 3,500 volunteer Coastguard Rescue Officers based across the country.
As of 31 December 2016, there were 17,256 police officers in Scotland (lowest level since the end of 2010). Police Scotland have recruitment intakes at various times throughout the year.
The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has 13 publicly managed prisons and 2 privately managed prisons in Scotland and employs around 4,651 staff in a variety of roles (1,328 of those employed are female).
There is a growing private security industry in Scotland, providing CCTV surveillance, security patrols and other guarding services as well as private investigation and intelligence services. This sector includes door supervisors and stewards.
Facts and figures
The RAF offers more than 50 different careers for both men and women. There are jobs in aircrew, air operations and support, logistics and equipment, communications and intelligence, technical and engineering, medical and medical support, catering and hospitality, personnel support as well as security and defence.
For the first time in the 110 year history of the Royal Navy’s Submarine Service, women are now able to serve at sea. The first three female Lieutenants took up their posts in May 2014.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has 15 operation centres around the coast of Britain, from Aberdeen in the North to Falmouth in the south. Three are in Scotland: Aberdeen, Shetland (Lerwick) and Stornoway.
In the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, 7.5% of uniformed staff are female.
Want to find out more?
For detailed information about the Army, phone 0345 600 8080 or visit the Army website.
You can also find information on careers in the armed services at the Ministry of Defence website.