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Career change – Joining ACT Policing

By jayson 18 October 2010 23

Hi,

I’ve been considering joining the police force for a little while now but really wanted to get some opinions from current or ex ACT police officers.

I’m currently working in the I.T. industry and have been doing so for over ten years now.

The job’s not too bad as far as jobs go but it’s not very fulfilling. The money is not too bad ( 90 – 100k) and the hours are alright but it’s just not rewarding. I’ve spoken with someone who was in a similar position, they worked in I.T. and joined the force and they absolutely love it. This person has been in for a few years now so I believe they have a pretty good idea of what the jobs really like.

My main concerns are;

    – Impact on my family life. I have two young children (7 & 10) and am happily married.
    – Financial impact. I would expect that as a new officer the money may not be great but after a few years could I expect to earn a similar amount to what I’m currently earning?
    – You don’t know what you don’t know. I’m sure there are many other things both good and bad about being a cop that you just can’t know until you’ve experienced it yourself so I’d really appreciate any comments.

Thanks.


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23 Responses to
Career change – Joining ACT Policing
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Mystery2Me 2:47 am 23 Nov 10

ConanOfCooma said :

I wanted to become a cop once. But then I thought “Nah, best to finish high school instead”…

I wanna meet you……….. lol

WalkTheTalk 1:40 pm 19 Oct 10

Jayson, all that matters is that you and your wife can support each other and your children if you make the change.

I don’t think anyone would become a cop for the money.

Generally anything rewarding is going to be challenging. BTW, what sounds better at a party; “I defragged a mainframe and then re-configured it to stream content to my workplace wirelessly” or “I chased a $h!tbag through three backyards, caught him, gave the lady her purse back and then dragged his sorry ass off to jail”?

I’m sure like any job it has it’s highs and lows. But nothing could be worse than being in a job/ career that you loathe.

Volunteering is a good alternative too. If you’re interested in emergency services, give the SES a look. That might give your family a taste of you being away on jobs and exercises and give you a taste of responsibility outside your work/family life. Surely the AFP would look on that favourably at interview?

banjo 10:26 am 19 Oct 10

Perhaps for a similar experience and sense of community service you could join the Army reserves? that way you can keep your job and your income.

motleychick 9:35 am 19 Oct 10

If you’re happy with your life, maybe you should look at volunteering on weekends in an area that you’re passionate about? I am planning on becoming a police officer and it’s something I have wanted for about 5 years – but I’m just waiting to finish my qualifications and gained some life experience before applying. The ACT Police recruitment round is coming around at the perfect time. But at the moment I work full time in the APS but volunteer every Saturday at a place that relates to my studies and that I’m extremely passionate about. It’s fulfilling – and people are grateful that you give up your spare time to help them out.

ConanOfCooma 8:39 am 19 Oct 10

I wanted to become a cop once. But then I thought “Nah, best to finish high school instead”…

djk 8:27 am 19 Oct 10

Given you have the obvious family and other committments and your current job is “not too bad”, is it not possible to keep working in the job and find some fulfilment outside of work? I would have thought working decent hours (not possible in AFP) and being able to provide for and spend time with your family would be pretty fulfilling.

Punter 8:41 pm 18 Oct 10
MJay 6:39 pm 18 Oct 10

jadie360 said :

‘scuse my ignorance,but what exactly is the difference between AFP and ACT Police? I thought ACT police did the on street type work in Canberra and the feds the national/international stuff?

The ACT is policed by the AFP under an agreement between the federal and territory government.

DJ 4:53 pm 18 Oct 10

Same organisation – different streams. No reason why you can’t go from one to the other.

exfed2 4:47 pm 18 Oct 10

My main concerns are;

– Impact on my family life. I have two young children (7 & 10) and am happily married.

Keep your 9-5, enjoy your family (which is the most important thing IMO) and stay happily married.

– Financial impact. I would expect that as a new officer the money may not be great but after a few years could I expect to earn a similar amount to what I’m currently earning?

Huge impact. You may be in that region after 7-8 years depending on the area worked/OT etc. But don’t expect it anytime soon.

– You don’t know what you don’t know. I’m sure there are many other things both good and bad about being a cop that you just can’t know until you’ve experienced it yourself so I’d really appreciate any comments.

Yes very true. Honest breakdown however…. yes you get the fun moments, sense of pride that you are helping the community. But that doesn’t last very long. The ‘fun’ jobs usually end in a large amount of paperwork and your sense of pride goes stright out the window the fourth time in as many weeks you see the dope you have locked up same amount of times back on the street yet again………… and the fact that you will be placing yourself in situations that may be harmful to your health/life. Six week wait to see if you have contracted Hep C from a face full of blood spat at you…….. wouldn’t help the marriage……

May be for you may not? The grass is rarely greener on the other side 🙂 and you sound content for the most part with your life, have two kids who are obviously in a caring family and enjoy life with your family. Why risk that?

jadie360 4:12 pm 18 Oct 10

‘scuse my ignorance,but what exactly is the difference between AFP and ACT Police? I thought ACT police did the on street type work in Canberra and the feds the national/international stuff?

BenMac 2:50 pm 18 Oct 10

is it six months training?

It’s 22 weeks. All police forces in Australia require you to live on campus for the duration of training. If you’re on 90-100K salary, you are going to find joining any police force will be a huge pay cut for youself.

Training wage is in the region of 45-50K. Then as a probationary constable somewhere between 50-55K – not including penalities and composite.

Compare this to NSW Police where you have to stay at Goulburn for around the same time of training, but do not get paid a training wage, and you pay for the training yourself. It’s the only police force in Australia that is basically a Uni (Charles Sturt) meaning you will be paying off a HECS debt (around 15K or so) well and truely after you have left the college.

TAD 2:41 pm 18 Oct 10

I can confirm the living at the College requirement which is for about 4 months whilst only receiving a measly training wage. (about $700 per fortnight). You aren’t locked in but would have enough work and study to make leaving during the week not feasible.

When you get out you earn about $50k which goes up steadily each year with unlimited prospects for overtime etc to bolster that up. To earn $90-100k you would have to be in for at least 5 years and working metric sh1tloads of OT. There are also good opportunities for International Deployments (eg Solomons) for 6 month stints on good pay.

The average recruit is in their mid to late 20s which is ideal career and family wise.

Le Rouge et le Noir 2:31 pm 18 Oct 10

While on college you can go home on the weekends and probably some nights but it is never certain you’ll be able to get away and even then there are assignments and study to do. Being on college is tough (being away from home, college food, study and PT) but it is only 6 months in your whole career.

You probably won’t make the same amount of money as in IT unless you do a lot of overtime or deploy overseas, both of which obviously equate to being away from home more than usual. But due to the roster you’d get blocks of days off, usually 3 or 4 a week depending on whether you would work day or night shifts. Pay on college is probably equivalent to an ASO5.

You should also ask yourself how comfortable you would be going to someones house to tell them their child is dead, dealing with brutal domestic violence and scraping dead bodies off the road.
There is that, but also consider whether you’re prepared to get into physical altercations. Being tough emotionally is one thing but you have to be confident enough to put your body on the line and be sure that you’re going to come out on top.

Good luck, now if the time to apply if you’re ever going to. And the recruitment process can take AGES so don’t wait.

Sammy 2:26 pm 18 Oct 10

Probably not the right type of person to provide the dedication necessary for a career as a police officer

My understanding was that the AFP were looking to recruit people with more community ties, to reduce the current staff turnover whereby young officers want to bugger off elsewhere after just a few years of service. Therefore, attempt to lure family-types who are stable and planning on maintaining a long-term residency in Canberra, and who want to give back to their local community.

You can’t have your cake, and eat it too.

The impact on family life is severe – I have not seen the stats in a couple of years but last time I saw them the Polic had the highest levels of marriage breakdown.

You should also ask yourself how comfortable you would be going to someones house to tell them their child is dead, dealing with brutal domestic violence and scraping dead bodies off the road.

enrique 1:45 pm 18 Oct 10

Sammy said :

What family-type wants to, or has the capacity to, live away from their family for half a year or so?

Probably not the right type of person to provide the dedication necessary for a career as a police officer…? (again, I’m purely guessing here)

enrique 1:42 pm 18 Oct 10

You’d assume that the living-on-campus requirement was a fairly important contributor to building up the comradery necessary for the police force. It’s not your usual 9-5 job and I guess it is necessary for members of a unit to have stronger ties with each other than your usual office worker crowd.

You’d want to have a pretty good idea about what type of people your co-workers are in order to trust them with your life in a dangerous situation. Living with them for 6 months would probably give you some of that insight.

astrojax 1:29 pm 18 Oct 10

is it six months training?

years back when i were a lad, i knew (from knowing people that know) nsw police had a 12 week training period with a further six at the end of the first 12mth stint. it wasn’t live in, either (though this was in the old redfern academy, where they keep horses now, i think. dunno if goulburn is a new pardigm to that end..?)

so yes, it strikes me as a way of deterring the excellent life-experienced people the force requires, this live on campus bit. no wonder there are still thuggy louts with no idea who barely shave yet manning the thin blue line…

can any [current or recent] serving bods confirm this state of affairs or otherwise?

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