Police officers often make career transitions, whether within the policing field or a completely different industry. While challenging, it can be rewarding. Reasons for transitioning can include desire for sociable hours, burnout, low job satisfaction, family commitments, or seeking new challenges.
Ex-police officers have many opportunities outside the police force, such as teaching or fire safety inspection. The IT industry has a growing demand for skilled technology professionals and offers excellent career progression, earning potential, and job security
Let’s explore the key considerations of making the transition from a job in the police force to a technology career in more detail to help make the change as seamless as possible!
What’s in this guide?
- Questions to ask yourself before transitioning from the police to technology
- What transferable skills do police officers have?
- 10 transferable skills police officers can use in the technology industry
- What is it really like to transition from the police force to a career in technology?
- Why make the change from the police to the technology industry?
- 6 Steps to transitioning from a job in the police to a career in technology
- What’s next for your career?
There are multiple reasons why police officers might want to change course at some point in their careers. These can vary from greatly from the need for a better work-life balance, a feeling of burnout to wanting to explore new directions.
However, before making a decision recommend you take the time to assess your interests and the goals you want to achieve in your career. It is also a good idea to pinpoint your strengths and weaknesses to identify where your skills would be most useful, and where any skills gaps lie. This way, you can get a better picture of whether you’re ready to make the transition from a career in the police force to technology, and what you need to do to take the next step.
Read our article on: The Best Jobs for Police Officers
Questions to ask yourself before transitioning from the police to technology
Before transitioning from the police to technology, here are a few questions you should ask yourself…
- Do you want to continue in law enforcement or switch to a new industry entirely?
- Do you have any transferable skills from the police to bring into the technology industry?
- Do you require upskilling to make the transition to your new career?
- What do you need to do to close your skills gap?
- What types of tech jobs are you interested in?
Your answers to these questions should help you decide the route to take in your professional life.
What transferable skills do police officers have?
Working in the police force, you go through rigorous training and pick up many skills on-the-job. This leaves you with a plethora of transferable skills you can take from your police career and leverage to land a successful career in technology.
10 Transferable skills police officers can use in the technology industry
- Attention to detail
- Critical thinking
- Risk assessment
- Time management
- Technical skills
Police officers are required to communicate clearly and effectively, sometimes in high-pressure situations. This can be in the form of written communication, such as when speaking with witnesses and offenders, as well as in written form, when filing reports for example. Communication is also an important skill to have in the technology industry, where you are required to communicate with team members, stakeholders, and customers - especially working in agile environments!
Working as a police officer, you are required to think on your feet and come up with creative solutions to challenging and unexpected situations, such as responding to incidents on the beat. In a technology career, problem-solving is crucial for resolving technical issues and troubleshooting problems.
In police work, officers often work in teams to achieve common goals, working together on a daily basis. Teamwork is also a key part of working in the technology industry and you will be required to work collaboratively, such as on software development projects where developers work closely with testers.
4. Attention to detail
Paying close attention to detail can be the difference between solving a case or missing a crucial piece of evidence, which is why it is a key skill to have when working in the police. Attention to detail is also important in tech and accuracy plays an important role in many different technology jobs, such as when writing code or conducting data analysis.
There are several leadership positions within the police force, such as Chief Constable or Chief Inspector, where excellent leadership skills are required. However, such skills are not limited to senior positions, and police officers are often expected to take charge of situations in their everyday roles. In the technology world, this type of leadership can be useful when managing projects, leading teams, or mentoring junior staff members.
6. Critical thinking
Police officers must be able to analyse and evaluate situations quickly and effectively. This skill is valuable in a technology career, where critical thinking is necessary for analysing data, making decisions, and solving complex problems.
7. Risk assessment
Police officers are trained to assess risks and make decisions accordingly. This skill can be useful in a technology career, where risk assessment is important for identifying potential issues and implementing appropriate controls.
8. Time management
Police officers must be able to manage their time effectively, prioritising tasks and meeting deadlines. This skill is important in technology careers, where managing multiple projects and deadlines is common.
Being adaptable and able to respond to changing circumstances is important for police officers. Equally, technology professionals must be adaptable in order to keep up with ever-changing technological trends and processes.
10. Technical skills
Most police work is focused on law enforcement and public safety, however, there are some technical skills you master while working in the police. This includes computer skills for writing reports and managing databases, radio comms, and forensic analysis. These technical skills can be easily translated into a technical environment and help you succeed in a technology career.
Check out our Ex-Forces Programme to find out more about how to get started in these technology roles.
What is it really like to transition from the police force to a career in technology?
Jo Morris had spent 16 years as a frontline worker on the police force when she decided it was time for a change. She took advantage of joining the FDM Ex-Forces and Ex-Blue Light programme and is currently working as an IT Project Manager for an international bank.
She spoke to us about her experience and some of the common challenges police officers face when looking to change careers.
She really enjoyed the FDM training and is grateful for her current placement that both excites and challenges her. For anybody looking for a second career after leaving the forces, her advice is, ‘you can get another career that can be just as rewarding and where you feel valued.’ Read her full story.
Why make the change from the police to the technology industry?
The technology industry is booming, and the demand for technology professionals is rapidly growing. This means that there are ample opportunities for ex-police officers who are looking to transition into a new career. In 2022, the UK tech sector retained its spot in first place and number three in the world for growth, reaching a combined market value of $1 trillion.
Working in tech can provide numerous benefits, such as flexible working, high paying jobs, a positive learning culture, high job security and good working hours. When you take into account work-life balance and job satisfaction, these are the most in-demand technology roles available:
- Java Developer
- Enterprise Architect
- Product Manager
- Full Stack Engineer
- Data Scientist
Find out more about how a move into a tech career can pay off and why these roles are so desirable!
6 Steps to transitioning from a job in the police to a career in technology
So, you’re ready to make the jump into a tech role? Here’s our advice for you…
- Upskill yourself
- Identify your transferable skills
- Update your CV and brush up on your interviewing skills
- Build your professional network
- Start applying for jobs
- Adapt to your new work environment
1. Upskill yourself
You can succeed in a tech career, even without specific technical skills or experience. Upskilling is an excellent way to fill any gaps in your existing knowledge. Enrolling in a career programme or online learning resources can be great places to start. At FDM, we offer ex-police officers the opportunity to benefit from expert technical training and support programmes, before getting stuck into exciting projects on our client’s sites.
And remember, you are never ‘too old’ to change careers or learn new skills. AT FDM we believe diverse teams are the most successful teams. Finally, career transition timelines vary, so don’t get discouraged. Starting in a complex field may mean taking a lower position but think of this as an opportunity to build skills and progress in your new career.
2. Identify your transferable skills
We recommend you take the time to understand your strengths to help you identify what jobs you will be good at, as well as any gaps in knowledge. This way, you can gain a better understanding of what you need to improve on before you start applying for jobs. Soft skills are equally important, so make sure you sharpen up on these, as well!
3. Update your CV and brush up on your interviewing skills
Next, you will need to update or write a CV to attract potential employers and showcase your transferable skills, like those listed above. It’s a good idea to mention where you have used these skills in real-life situations and explain how they would be useful to the role you’re applying for.
Brushing up on your interviewing skills to prepare for technology roles will also be helpful, as they could be quite different to what you’re used to!
To help you along the way, check out our advice on strength-based interview tips!
4. Build your professional network
Building your professional network is important for connecting with like-minded professionals outside of the policing world. It can also give you the opportunity to make connections with people who may be able to refer you or point you to job opportunities in the technical field. Using social media and attending in-person events are both great ways to grow your network.
With 49 million people using LinkedIn to look for jobs each week, it should be the first port of call for any job seeker. Not only is it a great platform for professional networking, it’s also a useful way to stay on top of relevant industry news and trends.
5. Start applying for jobs
After upskilling yourself, refreshing your CV and growing your professional network, you’re ready to start applying for jobs! You can try regular job sites, reaching out to your professional network for recommendations, or talking to recruiters. When making such a big career change, it can be extremely beneficial to talk to recruiters as they can help you identify the roles that are best suited for your skill sets and put you in touch with the right people who can help you.
Why not attend one of FDM’s Insight Events where you’ll have the chance to talk to our teams about a range of rewarding career opportunities in technology?
6. Adapt to your new work environment
Adapting to a new work environment can be difficult, but even more so when transitioning from the police. Working in the police force is unlike any other job, with officers working in a variety of environments and changing work schedules. This means transitioning to a new role can take some getting used to!
You’ll need to embrace the idea of continuous learning and be prepared to put yourself out there, which means keeping up to date with industry trends, building relationships with colleagues, and getting into a good work routine. This will all set you up for success in your new career!
What’s next for your career?
Making the switch from a career in the police to technology can be a big decision but can certainly pay off in the end. If you’re passionate about pursuing a career in technology, then we encourage you to go after your goals and make the most of what the growing technology industry has to offer. Even if you lack experience and are in need of some training, there are many different options available to you, including world-class career programmes tailored to your unique professional background.
The FDM Ex-Forces Programmes is designed to help professionals just like you find a second career in the technology industry, providing you with the right skills and training support to succeed in your chosen role. You’ll also gain hands-on experience with our industry-leading clients to set you up for future career success.