FAQ: Entry level (sworn) recruit roles

Requirements for joining the AFP

Recruitment process

Training at the AFP College

FAQs about Protective Service Officer and Policing Officers

General enquiries

Requirements for joining the AFP

Do I have to be an Australian citizen to join the AFP?

Yes, it is a minimum requirement at the time of application that you are an Australian citizen.

Can I register my interest if I am 18 years of age?

Yes! You can still register if you are not yet 18 but we will be unable to progress you through the recruitment process until your 18th birthday.

However, please note that to undertake the duties of a Protective Service Officer or Police Officer you must be over the age of 18. There is no upper age limit providing you are fit and able to perform policing duties.

What is the minimum education requirements needed for the entry level recruit process?

You need to hold at a minimum, a Year 10 certificate with a trade certificate or a Cert IV/Diploma level qualification. University level qualifications are also welcomed.

Do I have to have a driver's licence?

Yes. You need to hold a valid driver's licence when you apply.

A minimum of provisional drivers licence is required at the time of application and can be either a Manual or Automatic transmission – both will be accepted.

Do I need to meet a particular medical standard to be an entry level recruit?

Yes.  You must meet the AFP inherent requirements to be considered for Protective Service Officer and Policing roles.

We have medical and psychological standards which you will need to meet and maintain before you can be considered for entry level recruit programs.

If I have diabetes, will this exclude me from applying?

Applicants with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes will have to provide appropriate evidence that their diabetes is well controlled. Applicants with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes must demonstrate the following:

  • that they have not had a hypoglycaemic event in the last 12 months;
  • there is no evidence of organ damage; and
  • a HbA1c of eight or less over the last 12 months, tested on a case by case basis; four occasions at three months intervals.

Please note: Acceptance of applicants with Type 1 Diabetes is currently under review.

If I have asthma, will this exclude me from applying?

Asthma will be assessed on a case by case basis. Further tests and specialist reports may be required.

I'm on prescribed psychotropic medication (includes, but not limited to, anti-psychotic, anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication), will this preclude me from applying?

Yes, it will in the short to medium term, depending on the length of time you have been taking that medication. You will need to demonstrate full psychological resilience without the aid of psychotropic medication.

For more information on the use of psychotropic medication and AFP requirements for sworn recruiting, please see Medical and Psychological Assessment Gateway.

How fit do I need to be?

For entry level recruits, there are minimum fitness standards that must be met as part of the recruitment process. It is expected that all applicants are physically fit and in excellent health when agreeing to participate through recruitment gateways.

The Entry Fitness Assessment is the minimum fitness standard you need to meet upon registering your interest.  This assessment will determine your base level of physical fitness and these results will form part of the application process and medical material about your general level of health and fitness.

It is expected that you will be able to maintain this level of fitness as a lifestyle choice however, recruit training can be physically demanding and it is important to note that the Entry Fitness Assessment (EPCA) is not an indication of the intensity of the fitness training recruits undergo whilst training.

While the EPCA is the minimum fitness standard, the AFP will be expecting your level of fitness to be at a higher standard upon entering the College to ensure all participants are ready for the type of physical activities and training undertaken.

What can I do to prepare for the fitness test?

You can download the 6 week AFP Pre-course Fitness Program (PDF, 590KB) which is based on the fitness tests required and has been developed to help you prepare for the Pre-entry (EPCA), Physical Competency Assessment (PCA) and demands of the physical training during the College.

It is recommended this program is to be completed as prescribed under the guidance of a qualified trainer.

Do I need to have experience in state policing, paramilitary or military services to join the AFP?

No, you do not need prior policing, paramilitary or military services experience to register your interest. The AFP equally values people with varied life experiences, including a range of tertiary related qualifications.

The AFP may recognise current and/or prior experience in other state police services, and applicants with such experience may be eligible for entry under the lateral transfer recruit program.

I'm still at school and considering a future in the AFP. Are there any subjects/curriculum favored that would enhance my chances for employment?

We do not have a preference for particular subjects or hold particular qualifications at a higher standard over others.  Ultimately, we are interested in good results and your capacity to think critically.

Selections for entry level recruit roles with the AFP is highly competitive. We are looking for candidates with sound academic performance and encourage you to pursue subjects you are interested in which develop your thinking skills. Good results in these areas will indicate how well you are likely to do with recruit training requirements.

The AFP looks for a variety of traits when selecting employees. These include high levels of motivation, integrity, cultural awareness, commitment to working with the community, and a clean or minimal criminal and traffic history. The AFP also takes life experience and past ventures into account. We are looking for people who are physically fit and who value health and fitness as a lifestyle choice.

Don't forget, you can still register your interest on the ROI if you are under the age of 18, however we cannot progress you through the process until your 18th birthday.

Will my sexual orientation prohibit me from joining the AFP?

The AFP believes that sexual orientation does not affect an individual's ability to do the job. The Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer (GLLO) Network provides support to its members and also advises management on strategies and initiatives for managing relationships with the gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual and intersexual communities.

Does the AFP employ people from non-English speaking backgrounds or from different ethnic groups?

Yes. The AFP aims to mirror the Australian community by employing people from a wide range of backgrounds. Currently, AFP staff can speak 94 different languages including sign language. Many internal networks exist to support employees from diverse backgrounds, including the Malunggang Indigenous Officers' Network.

Recruitment process

What has changed?

Instead of applying through an annual recruitment process, you now register your interest at any time, for either Policing (ACT Community Policing) or Protective Service Officer (PSO) roles.

We only request minimal information at the ROI stage and once you have submitted your ROI, you will receive updates from the Recruitment Team.

What is the Register of Interest?

The Register of Interest (ROI) will be used to fill confirmed, anticipated and future entry level recruit programs.

How does the Register of Interest work?

The Register of Interest (ROI) will be used to progress applicants through the first entry level gateways; fitness assessment and ACER Entrance Exam prior to submitting an application.  Applicants will be selected to progress for confirmed and anticipated recruit training programs upon successful completion of both these mandatory gateways.

The ROI also enables Recruitment an opportunity to touch base and provide you with updates/general information throughout your time in the ROI!

What information do I have to provide in the ROI?

The ROI requests minimum information such as your name, location, preference.  However, you will have to provide information to help us determine if you meet the AFPs minimum eligibility requirements for entry level positions.  More information on the minimum eligibility requirements can be found online.

Can I register for both PSO and Policing at the same time?

No, you can only register your interest for one position at a time. The preference you select upon registering your interest will determine when you will be progressed through the recruitment gateways. 

I've registered my interest, what's the process to become recruit?

Our recruitment process is designed to ensure applicants meet entry level requirements (minimum requirements) and have the values and skills to meet the challenges and demands of policing.

To be considered you:

Step One – Register you Interest

  • Successfully complete the AFP Entrance Exam and the Fitness Assessment.  AFP Recruitment will advise on how to register for these.

Step Two – You are invited to apply

What is the AFP Entrance Exam?

This assessment is administered by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) on behalf of AFP.  The exam consists of and assesses you against 5 separate assessments; cognitive ability, numeracy, written comprehension, literacy and emotional intelligence.

The AFP Entrance Exam is conducted four times per year at different locations across Australia.  Typically in March, May, August and October.

You will be invited to register through the ACER website on set dates and locations across Australia.

Where can I find information about the AFP Entrance Exam?

Candidate Information Booklets are available from the AFP Entrance Exam.  Free sample questions and preparation materials are also available.

What does it mean if I don't progress in my application as a result of the AFP Entrance Exam?

You must successfully complete all test components in the AFP Entrance Exam and meet the minimum score for each assessment in order to be deemed suitable to progress in the recruitment process.  Upon receiving your outcome, a statement of attainment will be accessible to you outlining your entrance exam results.

There is one opportunity for you to re-sit some of the tests components if you do not pass after your first sitting.  Unfortunately this is not the case for the Emotional Intelligence test and if you do not attain the minimum score on your first sitting, you will have to wait 12 months before you can sit the test again.

What is the Video Interview and what does it involve?

An AFP video interview is similar to any other professional job interview situation, however this one is completed in your own time – can be completed in the comfort of your own home and using your own mobile or desktop device.   With that in mind, you should still be prepared and dressed for a job interview!

The video interview is designed to assist us to understand more about you and your motivation and interest in applying for a Police or Protective Service Officer role.  More information can be found on our website here.

What is involved in the security clearance process?

Applicants for the AFP should be aware that the security clearance process can be intrusive in nature and includes (but is not limited to) detailed background, character, employment, police and financial checks for both you and your partner (if applicable).

I have a security clearance from another department/organisation. Will this assist me with my application?

The AFP will still conduct its own security checks, however if you are able to provide the relevant details/documentation, we may be able to transfer your security clearance, so please advise the Recruitment Team of this at the time you are requested to complete the security gateway.

I have been asked to provide a copy of my traffic history.  Where do I get this from?

As part of the recruitment process, the AFP Recruitment team will ask for a copy of your current and full driving history. The traffic history must cover 10 years or the period you have held your driver's licence (if under 10 years) and be from all state and territories you have held a drivers licence in this period.

Traffic history documents can be obtained from your local motor registry office in your state (and states you have held a licence). The AFP is unable to access any of this information on your behalf.

Can I request feedback on my application if I am not successful?

Due to the volume of applications and the competitive nature of this bulk recruitment process, the feedback we are able to provide is limited. Further, we cannot disclose any information pertaining to our selection process.

Training at the AFP College

How long does recruit training take?

The length of the training program will vary depending on what recruit program you are placed on.  All recruit programs are live in at the AFP College Barton, Canberra.

  • The Federal Police Development Program (FPDP) runs for approximately 24 weeks and includes local procedures.  
  • The Protective Service Officer Program (PSOP) runs for approximately 16 weeks and combines theory, practical application of knowledge, officer safety training, simulations and physical fitness training.
  • The Federal Police Lateral Program (FPLP) is aimed at current serving police officers from State and Territory police jurisdictions and is approximately 16 weeks, however training depends on experience.

Is the AFP College affiliated with a university?

The AFP College is a Registered Training Organisation; however it is not affiliated with any university.

If I live in Canberra, do I have to live at the AFP College during training?

Yes. It is a standard requirement for recruits to live at the AFP College during training.

Can my family stay with me while I'm at the AFP College?

Unfortunately not.  Due to the single accommodation arrangements at the AFP College family cannot accompany you. You may choose to organise other nearby accommodation for your family at your own expense.

What do I get paid as a recruit?

Entry level police recruits are paid the salary of a Band 2.3 while training at the AFP College. Entry level sworn PSO recruits are paid the salary of a Band 2.1 while training at the college.

Further details about pay, the AFP's generous leave entitlements and other conditions can be found at pay and conditions.

FAQs about Protective Service Officer and Policing Officers

What's the difference between a Protective Service Officers ACT Community Police Officer and a Federal Agent?

Protective Service Offices (PSOs) provide a dedicated armed, uniformed protective security layer to detect, deter and respond to criminal and national security incidents at Australian government critical infrastructure and sites and interests in Australia and overseas.

ACT Policing members begin their career as a community police officer (Constable of Police) and are stationed to one of five police stations in Canberra to undertake General Duties. In ACT Policing there are options to specialise in areas such as community safety, family violence, drugs and organised crime, traffic operations, rural patrol and intelligence.

ACT Policing is the community policing arm of the AFP and enforces the law within the Australian Capital Territory under territory (and where relevant Commonwealth) legislation. This means when a crime is committed in the ACT you are the first point of contact.

Federal agents/National Investigators prevent and detect crimes against Commonwealth law, many of which extend beyond state/territory and national borders. Examples include terrorism, organised crime and people smuggling.

What is the difference between the AFP and State Police?

The AFP investigates and prevents crimes against the Commonwealth — work that often extends beyond state and national borders and protects Commonwealth interests in Australia and overseas. The AFP also provides community policing services (ACT Community Policing) to the ACT community under contract with the ACT Government.

State Police enforce laws within their state and are covered under their individual state legislation.

The AFP work closely with State Police jurisdictions regularly.

Where are PSOs and Police Officers deployed?

The AFP recruits nationally and deploys staff around Australia in response to operational requirements. Policing roles are both in Canberra and in Capital Cities across Australia. PSO's could be deployed to any region in Australia, including regionally in Exmouth and Geraldton (WA) and Pine Gap, Alice Spings (NT).

While all candidates have an opportunity to specify where they would like to be located, deployment locations are determined based on operational requirements and the needs of the organisation at that time therefore while we endeavour to deploy you to your preferred location this cannot be guaranteed.

You are generally notified of your intended deployment location at the time of an offer for engagement being verbally presented. The AFP Commissioner has the power to assign police members at any time to any place considered appropriate for the AFP to perform its functions.

If you are not interested in deployment at this time, you may want to reconsider registering your interest at this time.

Is ACT Policing an independent police service in its own right?

ACT Policing is the community policing arm of the AFP. We deliver policing services to the Australian Capital Territory through a policing arrangement between the ACT and Commonwealth Governments.

This arrangement is of great benefit to the ACT and the AFP, as we can multi-skill our members and provide them with greater career opportunities, training and exposure to local, national and international law enforcement.

What kind of people are the AFP looking for in Protective Service Officer and Police Officer roles?

We recognise that diversity creates a stronger and more effective organisation. All employees bring a range of experience, knowledge and insight, which is why we focus on maintaining a diverse workforce which reflects the community we serve.

We are looking for a diverse group of men and women over the age of 18, from all kinds of backgrounds and cultures, and all walks of life that have a genuine interest in community policing.

What is a Protective Service Officer?

Protective Service Officers (PSOs) are employees of the AFP. They provide high visibility protective security services for Australian Commonwealth interests nationally and internationally.

PSOs are sworn federal officers with limited powers under the Australian Federal Police Act 1979 (the AFP Act) to provide law enforcement responses to protective service offences, as listed in the AFP Act, in the course of their shift.

Do Protective Service Officers carry guns?

Yes, Protective Service Officers along with Federal Agents and ACT Policing members are all required to carry firearms and other accoutrements while on duty.

Do Protective Service Officers perform shift work?

Yes, as a Protective Service Officer you will be required to work rotating shifts. The shift pattern may vary between each station but will involve nightshifts and weekends.

If I join the AFP am I likely to be seriously injured?

Recent statistics show that policing in Australia has a lower incidence of workplace injuries than occupations such as farming and nursing.

Policing is of course a more dangerous career than some other options, however we ensure you are trained appropriately to deal with such situations.

Do all AFP members wear police uniforms?

The AFP's sworn responsibilities fall into three areas, Federal Policing, ACT Policing and PSOs.

Most members who work in ACT Policing and PSO's wear a uniform, while many federal agents are plain clothes investigators.

General enquiries

What makes the AFP special?

The AFP's role is to enforce Commonwealth criminal law, contribute to combating complex, transnational, serious and organised crime impacting Australia's national security and to protect Commonwealth interests from criminal activity in Australia and overseas. The AFP also has responsibility for providing policing services to the Australian Capital Territory and Australia's territories, including Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Norfolk Island and Jervis Bay.

The AFP is the only police service in Australia which offers work in community policing, as national investigators, in protective services and capacity building missions overseas. The AFP not only offers roles within a sworn capacity, it also offers a range of roles in a non-policing, professional capacity.

  • The AFP has many non-policing roles which support policing operations. These range from forensics, legal, intelligence and marketing to IT and business support. Whatever role interests you, you will be assisting the AFP to combat crime.
  • Protective service officers (PSOs) protect Commonwealth interests in Australia and overseas, including counter-terrorism first response at Australia's major airports. The International Deployment Group is a new approach to deploying personnel overseas for capacity building and capacity building missions. You will gain exposure to policing issues and situations not normally encountered in Australia.
  • The ACT Community Police protect the national capital, which involves an exciting mix of issues and challenges. They are the first point of contact when a local crime is committed.
  • Federal agents operate in state and territory capital cities and as liaison officers in countries around the world. They focus on national and international crime. Federal agents also serve as peacekeepers for the United Nations.
  • Federal agents provide protection within Australia and overseas to designated Australian and foreign dignitaries, internationally protected persons and visiting foreign dignitaries.
  • There are often opportunities for sworn police to move from community policing roles to federal agent roles and vice-versa.

What's the difference between sworn and professional roles?

Sworn members have certain police powers under the Australian Federal Police Act and have the ability to enforce the law.

Professional appointees of the AFP include those employees in non-policing and support roles. You can however be a sworn member working in a professional role.

Does the AFP have graduate or trainee programs?

Yes, however these are professional (non-policing) roles within the organisation. Further information can be found at Professional roles.

Does the AFP allow for flexible working arrangements?

We are committed to providing a flexible work environment to meet the genuine operational requirements of the organisation and to accommodate, wherever possible, employee preferences to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

While some roles within the AFP require employees to work an operational pattern (shift work requirements) – including professional, PSO and Police Officers roles -  there are a range of flexible work practice options available which may suit both the needs of the employee and the requirements of the workplace.

These work practices include flexible working hours, compressed working hours and part time work.

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