Defence, Security & Emergency Services

Defence, Security & Emergency Services

Factors to consider when thinking about a career in Defence, Security and the Emergency Services:

  • there is a lot more to this sector than meets the eye…and not simply the roles that you would immediately think of.
  • opportunities for work in the armed forces and emergency services filter down into three key spheres:
    • Local public sector – the police force, the fire service and the ambulance service. These services operate locally but comply with central government guidelines.
    • National public sector – the army, the Royal Air Force (RAF), the Royal Navy and the intelligence services. The UK armed forces employ more than 165,000 trained personnel.
    • Private sector – companies support the forces and emergency services with catering, medical equipment and the production of vehicles and weaponry. This industry employs over 300,000 people and generates more than £35billion per year for the UK economy.

Each section below gives you links to information on specific career areas – work activities, related professional bodies, employers/job search and other relevant information.

Armed Forces

UK armed forces consist of: Army – employs a diverse range of graduates in many different areas of the force from logistics, support, administrative functions, to technical and operations through to training and education officers. Royal Navy – recruits graduates from many disciplines and backgrounds. Key branches are warfare, engineering, logistics, medical, chaplaincy and aviation – each are split into small specialist sections. Royal Air Force – over 50 careers to choose from. To succeed in their missions it takes more than planes and pilots – there’s a whole team of people behind every aircraft that takes to the skies. The RAF need people to keep the planes in good condition, people to keep their bases secure, people to publicise what they do, people to transport equipment and supplies, people to train, people to look after everyone’s health… the range of jobs you’ll find in the RAF is almost as wide as you’d find in civilian life.

Emergency Services

Emergency services and rescue services are organisations which ensure public safety and health, by addressing different emergencies. Some of these agencies exist solely for addressing certain types of emergencies whilst others deal with ad hoc emergencies as part of their normal responsibilities. Many of these agencies engage in community awareness and prevention programs to help the public avoid, detect, and report emergencies effectively. The emergency services include:

  • Police (Police Officer) – The role covers the prevention and detection of crime. This includes investigating crimes and incidents, interviewing suspects, preparing prosecution files, checking premises, controlling traffic, and maintaining good relations with the public. Employers are all UK Home Office police forces, British Transport Police, and Armed Forces (Military Police).
  • Fire Service (Operational Fire Officer) – involves operational duties (fire fighting, road accidents, chemical spillages etc); maintaining equipment; responsibilities to watch training, discipline and fitness; analytical work related with brigade projects; enforcing fire safety regulations and promoting fire safety.
  • Ambulance Service (Paramedic) - Provides medical assistance at accidents and emergencies, responds to emergency calls, diagnoses injuries and gives treatment, drives patients to hospital, reports details of patients to hospital staff. Employers: NHS Trusts, private ambulance services and the armed forces.
  • The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCGA) - implements the government’s maritime safety policy in the UK and works to prevent the loss of life on the coast and at sea. They provide a 24-hour maritime search and rescue service around the UK coast and in the international search and rescue region through HM Coastguard, and inspect and survey ships to ensure they are meeting UK and international safety rules. They also provide certification to seafarers, register vessels and respond to pollution from shipping and offshore installations.

Security Services

Bear in mind that it’s not James Bond, or even Spooks, but it does offer a variety of opportunities for graduates, as generalists (for which any degree subject is acceptable), linguists or technical specialists. The Security Services (or Intelligence Services) assess and investigate threats to national security, collects, analyses and disseminates intelligence, works with others to counter threats, advises Government and others on protection and provides effective support for those tasks. The key employer is The Security Service (MI5) – MI6 and GCHQ offer similar roles.

Related links

Getting started

Professional bodies

Employers and vacancy sources