Ministry of Business and Innovation - Occupation Outlook

Occupation Outlook | Main MBIE Site


Job Prospects

Job Prospects... At a glance

The prospects of becoming a police officer are average. This is because the selection process for NZ Police is competitive and opportunities are limited for school leavers.

There are several intakes every year at the Royal NZ Police College, with about 40 to 80 recruits per intake.

The new recruits will replace serving police officers who are expected to leave the force. The best chances of getting a job as a police officer are in Auckland, where there has been a rise in police numbers due to strong population growth.

How to become a police officer

What they do

Police officers maintain law and order in the community. They work to prevent and solve crime, keep the peace, and respond to criminal activities and emergencies.

Police officers may do some or all of the following, depending on their area of specialisation:

  • patrol selected areas on foot or by car
  • help people in a wide range of emergencies
  • investigate crimes, domestic disturbances, serious vehicle crashes and sudden deaths
  • interview people and take statements
  • search for and arrest suspected criminals
  • write reports
  • give evidence in court
  • direct traffic and help drivers
  • give talks at schools

Qualifications needed

To become a police officer a recruit needs to complete the police training course, which involves:

  • 18 weeks of training at the Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua, Wellington
  • two years of supervised frontline police work, during which a trainee officer undertakes a series of workplace assessments
  • a compulsory university distance-learning course.

To enter police training a recruit must:

  • be a New Zealand citizen or have permanent residency status, and be living in New Zealand permanently
  • pass psychological, numeracy, spoken English and abstract reasoning assessments
  • pass physical fitness and eyesight tests
  • be at least 17 years old and hold a full driver’s licence when the recruit graduates from the Royal New Zealand Police College
  • attend an interview
  • notify police of any convictions – some convictions, such as for drunk driving, violence, drugs or dishonesty offences, will result in an application being automatically rejected.

Although it is not a requirement, a demonstrated understanding of a different language or culture is likely to be an advantage for an applicant. Demographic trends show that New Zealand’s communities are increasingly diverse. Police are looking to build on their cultural capability to maintain responsiveness to all New Zealanders.

Police officers are also required to maintain skills and qualifications, including first aid and firearms training, and pass a physical competency fitness test every two years.

Cost of study

During the 18 weeks of training at the Royal New Zealand Police College, candidates are paid a salary of $1,442 per fortnight (gross). NZ Police will also pay for the cost of getting candidates to the college at the start of the 18 weeks and getting them home at the end. For details, see

Where to study

Police training is only available at the Royal New Zealand Police College in Porirua, Wellington.

Income and employment prospects


The salary for police officers depends on their skills, experience and rank.

During training, a candidate's gross salary is $38,358 per annum (and the total remuneration package is $42,472. After graduating, police officers start on about $56,106, with total remuneration of about $62,791 a year. Remuneration includes salary, superannuation, a two-yearly physical competency test allowance, and a life insurance premium.   

Estimated Average Income (With five years’ experience)

 Source: New Zealand Police

Subsequent remuneration increases will depend on the role, shift patterns and promotion. The total remuneration for a constable in their fifth year of service is $67,100. Additional income can be earned for shift work and additional responsibilities such as promotion or appointment to specialist groups such as CIB or Dog Section. Overtime is compensated by time off in lieu (as opposed to paid overtime).

Employment and skill shortages

Police employment

Police employees in constabulary positions
2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
8,818 8,923 8,899 8,834 9,017

Source: New Zealand Police Annual Reports

For the foreseeable future, police will be looking to maintain numbers of frontline staff.

Employment chart

Source: New Zealand Police Annual Reports

Where to look for job vacancies

Police vacancies are advertised on the NZ Police and New Cops websites.

NZ Police:
New Cops:

Career path

There are over 30 different career pathways within police, ranging from general duties through to youth education, criminal investigations, and search and rescue.

After an initial two years of frontline work, police officers can choose to apply for other specialist roles. Specialist roles include:

  • Armed Offenders Squad officer
  • criminal investigation officer
  • detective
  • dog handler
  • e-crime
  • family violence team member
  • forensic services officer
  • road policing officer
  • air observation support
  • iwi liaison officer
  • financial crime unit member
  • search and rescue officer
  • youth education officer.

As officers specialise and get promoted through the organisation, they can expect a significant amount of professional development and training relevant to their role.

Related occupations

The following occupations are related roles or alternative titles. Some of the roles may require a higher level of skill than entry-level police officers.

  • Corrections Officer
  • Customs Officer
  • Detective
  • Intelligence Officer
  • Police Constable
  • Police Sergeant

Other information


More information on police officers is available on the Careers New Zealand website and on New Zealand Police’s own recruiting website.

Careers New Zealand:
New Zealand Police:


The Australian New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO) is the official classification of occupations in New Zealand.

The occupation of police officer has been coded to the following ANZSCO code for the purpose of this report:

4413 – Police