The New Zealand Police

More than a job and the chance to help. Joining the police force is more than starting a job – it is the start of a life based around helping people and genuinely helping make a difference in the community we live in. 

If you are reading this, the idea of helping in your community already resonates with you. Building a career around helping and serving the community can be rewarding in many more ways than financial, although the pay as a police officer is very competitive. 

To become a police officer you will need to be fit and healthy, but more importantly, you need good communication skills, be community minded and display a positive attitude. In the police, no two days are the same and no two jobs are the same.  

Are you eligible to join the New Zealand Police? You must:  

  • be at least 18 when you enter the Police College for your initial training 
  • be a New Zealand citizen, or eligible NZ resident  
  • be physicaly fit and in good health, and able to swim 
  • be able to communicate well in English (and speaking a second language is a major plus) 
  • have good eyesight 
  • hold a restricted driver licence (and get a full one withing 12 months of applying) 
  • not have any serious convictions relating to dishonesty, drugs, violence or anyting of a sexual nature. Also, a drink driving conviction will rule you out from joining the police force. 

Your gender, ethnicity and even height are not relevant to your application – the police force welcomes and needs diversity to fully serve the needs of New Zealand’s modern population. Good NCEA grades help in your selection process, particularly in English and Maths.  

The New Cops website 

More about entry requirements here 

Occupation Outlook’s take on joining the Police  

The recruitment process 

It can take up to a year to join the police force after you have made your initial application. In this time, you will need to complete a range of interviews/assessments as well as a part-time distance learning course.  The assessments look at your suitability to be a police officer, including your fitness levels, reasoning abilities and your character. 

Your application will be managed by specialist recruitment staff at one of two hubs or locations, one covering the waikato north with a second covering the lower Nort Island and the South Island. 

The distance learning (you do it at home) course takes 12 weeks and is offered by Unitec. It means you have to study part time for 12-15 hours per week and the aim is to give you a base level of knowledge and understanding of policing in New Zealand. 

Once you have successfully completed the course, you enter the ‘candidate pool’, and from there you are invited to undertake the 16-week traing course at the Police College in Porirua near Wellington. This is a live-in course and you get paid while you are doing it. There are 5-7 intakes per year with 40-80 trainees in each. 

The training course at the RNZPC is a reasonably meaty tertiary level course, which ranges in difficulty from NCEA level 3 to level 6. You need to be up for it and to work solidly through the training .When you graduate you become a  probationary constable for two years, undertaking a variety of assessments and earning close to $60,000.  

Here’s a big downloadable pdf on preparing for police selection 

More information about your training at Police College  

After Police College 

For the two years after graduation from Police College, you work as a probationary constable, attending incidents like street disorder, road crashes, stolen cars and property, domestic violence, missing persons and keeping order at major sporting and cultural events. After these 2 years, you become a full constable.  

From this point you can stay in the role of a constable, or you can start to specialise in up to 30 different roles from forensics to child protection, dog handling, iwi liaison, financial crime and criminal investigation. There are even helicopter and police boat and diving specialities, and you can even aim to be posted to other poilce units overseas. 

Check out the range of possible police careers 

In your fourth year you could be earning around $65,000 as wel as being trained for or doing the speciality you wish. Over a 39-day period, it averages around 26 days of work (often in shifts) with 13 days off. 

Read more about police pay and benefits